Paris (AFP) – The fans returned in England, the top-of-the-table clash in Germany ended in a draw, La Liga has an unfamiliar look and AC Milan are five points clear in Serie A.
AFP looks at five talking points from around the continent this weekend.
– The sound of a few fans clapping –
Fans were allowed back into games in the Britain for the first time since March, but only in those regions where the latest coronavirus wave is deemed less serious.
That meant 2,000 fans at the three Premier League games in London and at Liverpool.
“When we came out we all had goosebumps,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea all responded with comfortable victories to remain in that order at the top of the table.
The fans did their best to make a noise. “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, poignant in the circumstances, rang out at Anfield as Liverpool beat Wolves.
“It was very emotional, after 10 months without that it is a wonderful, wonderful sign,” said Klopp. “I never knew it could feel that good.”
But there was also a reminder of English football’s troubled history with its fan base as masked supporters at second-tier Millwall booed as players took a knee before kick-off.
– Atletico profit –
In recent years, Atletico Madrid have been the third contender in a two-team league. Their La Liga title in 2014 marks the only interruption in the Real Madrid-Barcelona duopoly since 2005.
But Atletico moved to the top this weekend after beating Valladolid 2-0 on Saturday and helped by the failings of others.
The immediate victims were Real Sociedad, who started the weekend in first but deprived of injured striker Mikel Oyarzabal could only draw 0-0 at Alaves.
But Atletico are profiting from the inconsistency of Real Madrid, who reversed a series of bad results by eking out a 1-0 win at Sevilla to stay fourth and the Liga meltdown at Barcelona who lost 2-1 at Cadiz and are ninth.
Atletico meanwhile are settling into a menacing groove. They have won seven straight in La Liga and conceded just two goals in 10 league games.
However, coach Diego Simeone is not prepared to talk about titles. “In football we live for what is going to happen in the next week,” he said.
– Rivals keep heat on PSG –
Five points separate the top six in France, where defending champions Paris Saint-Germain find themselves under increasing pressure from in-form Lyon and Marseille, as well as Lille.
Late goals from Moise Kean and Kylian Mbappe, his 100th for the club, secured a 3-1 win at Montpellier to keep PSG top after they were in danger of going three Ligue 1 games without a victory for the first time since April 2019.
Lyon and Lille will both have the chance to test PSG’s mettle later this month while Marseille, despite their woeful Champions League campaign, could supplant their bitter rivals in first place by winning their two games in hand.
– Do AC Milan dare to dream? –
AC Milan are doggedly holding onto their five-point lead at the top of Serie A after beating Sampdoria 2-1 on Sunday and their success-starved supporters might finally be starting to dream.
Franck Kessie’s penalty just before half-time and Samu Castillejo’s goal in the 77th minute were enough for the seven-time European champions to keep local rivals Inter Milan firmly in second place. They didn’t even need the absent Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Milan dominated Italian and European football in the 1990s, winning five Serie A titles in eight years with a sparkling team including Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit under the ownership of Silvio Berlusconi.
But their last Italian title dates back to 2011.
– Leverkusen going under the radar –
Peter Bosz’s Bayer Leverkusen have quietly emerged as the closest challengers to Bayern Munich in Germany, despite the sale of Kai Havertz and Kevin Volland.
Leverkusen are one of two unbeaten teams in the Bundesliga, along with Wolfsburg, and made it six wins in seven with Sunday’s 3-0 defeat of hapless Schalke, leaving them a point adrift of Bayern.
They have largely relied on the goals of Argentine striker Lucas Alario, although had to make do without their top scorer this weekend due to injury.
Instead, Patrik Schick, the club’s headline summer signing, scored his first goal since returning from a spell of his own on the sidelines.
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