The SportsGrape European Football Review: Barcelona dismantle Real as Lopetegui stares into the abyss

victory

The first El Clásico to not feature either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo since 2007 was an enthralling, if one-sided, affair.

Barcelona formidably dispatched Real Madrid in a 5-1 humiliation. This has left Julen Lopetegui clinging onto his job for dear life. It looks a matter of when not if the Spaniard is sacked. Indeed, many expect him to be replaced by former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte this week.

A Luis Suarez hattrick, and goals from Phillipe Coutinho and Arturo Vidal, ensured Barcelona remain top of the table. It also deepened the crisis at Madrid, who now slip to 9th place. A goal from Marcelo after the break dragged the score back to 2-1. They failed to get another, however, as Barcelona ran riot late on.

The defeat to Barcelona means Los Blancos have not recorded a victory in the league since 22nd September. This forms a run of five games, and they now have just one win in seven matches in all competitions – an insipid 2-1 win over Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League. The defeat to Barcelona looks to be the final nail in the coffin for the former Spain and Porto manager.

Lopetegui

Elsewhere in La Liga, Deportivo Alaves maintained their phenomenal start to the campaign with a 2-1 victory over Villareal. This victory keeps them in an almost unbelievable second-place. Sevilla kept the pressure up at the top with a 2-1 win against bottom-side Huesca. Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, won 2-0 at home to Real Sociedad.

Juventus maintain unbeaten start

The Bianconeri survived a first half scare to overcome a stubborn Empoli side. As a result, they remain unbeaten in their opening ten games this season. A Ronaldo brace – the second of which was a superb strike from outside the penalty area – put Juventus ahead after Francesco Caputo had given the home side a surprise first half lead.

The result means they extend their lead at the top of the table, as Napoli drew with Roma on Sunday night. Stephan El Shaarawy gave the away side the lead at the San Paolo, but a 90th minute Dries Mertens equaliser snatched the victory away from the Giallorossi.

AC Milan managed to secure a 3-2 win at home to Sampdoria in an engrossing contest which alleviates the pressure on Gennaro Gattuso slightly. A second-half Suso strike bagged the points for the Rossoneri after a first half in which both sides exchanged the lead in an erratic 45 minutes.

Henry still looking for win as PSG march on

Thierry Henry is still looking for his first win as a manager. His Monaco side could only muster a 2-2 draw against Dijon this weekend. The result keeps them in the relegation zone and shows that the problems at the principality side run deeper than just the head coach.

In Le Classique on Sunday evening, Paris Saint-Germain secured a 2-0 victory over their bitter rivals Marseille. Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to put the Parisians ahead, before Julian Draxler sealed the points for the away side at the death. This now makes it 11 straight wins in the league for Thomas Tuchel’s men.

Dortmund stutter as Bayern close gap

Borussia Dortmund were held to a 2-2 draw by Hertha Berlin on Saturday. This opened the door for Bayern Munich to reduce the gap at the top to two points. A Jadon Sancho brace was not enough to ensure victory as two goals from former Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou pegged the home side back.

Goals from Leon Goretzka and Thiago were enough for Bayern to defeat Mainz and continue there return to form. The Bavarian side have now sneaked up to second in the table.

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