Two posts in a day! Guess who had the day off!
After this interesting couple of days in England, I thought I’d have a catch up with what is going on in Europe’s other major leagues, and was not disappointed.
In Italy, following their disappointment of losing the Champion’s League playoff to Arsenal, Udinese sit top of Serie A, undefeated after seven games, with the irrepressible Di Natale banging them in at 34 chasing his 3rd Italian golden boot in a row (6 in 7). A fine example of a player that has continued to improve throughout his career, and he looks a better player now than ever before. Google tells me that Di Natale is also the name of a detective agency in the United States town of Brighton. Inter continue to stutter back into life following their second appalling season start in a row, but most pleasing for me was the Hat-trick for Milan (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfj7zJDZeQQ) by second half substitute Kevin –Prince Boateng (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin-Prince_Boateng), following his screamer in the Champions League (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05mXBl4J_l0&feature=related) in the week. Funny to think 16 months ago he was getting relegated with Portsmouth and missing a penalty in the cup final, following rejection by Spurs. Apart from recovering from that and having an excellent name, Milan’s KP also managed to accidentally end Michael Ballack’s international career just after switched his allegiance to Ghana for the upcoming world cup. The upshot was that Germany played a much more exciting brand of Ballack-less football and he got to get kicked by his younger brother while they played for different countries. He also did a very passable Michael Jackson tribute dance on National TV to celebrate Milan’s title win last year…. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5i8OyC2GTg) .
In Germany, Bayern lost for the second time this year, with Kevin-Prince’s younger brother sent off in the first half. This allowed Dortmund to close the gap to 3 points after a 5-0 home win, no doubt helping their confidence following their Greek defeat. Three points separate the next seven places, reinforcing the view that despite Bayern Munich’s dominance in recent years, the German league has re-found a parity of competition.
Big Spenders and oil bunnies PSG are top in France, three points ahead of surprise team Montpellier, and Joe Cole goal helped bring Lille back into contention with a win against stuttering Lyon.
Az Alkmaar have an unexpected four point cushion at the top in Holland after ten games, with Ajaz eight points behind in sixth place. Feyenoord are keeping pace in fourth, despite having lost a significant number of first teamers over the summer.
La Liga is congested at the top with the top five only five points apart. A year after beating Sevilla 5-0 at the Nou Camp, Barcelona somehow played out a goalless draw with their fourth place visitors, in a one-sided game that included an injury time penalty miss by Messi of all people, and six bookings and two injury time reds for Sevilla. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbuZmOXrhqA&feature=related) . The little flea still has 16 goals and 10 assists in 14 games, so his demise is someway off! Cristiano Ronaldo, lagging behind with a disappointing 12 goals in 13 games, got a his 11th Real Madrid hat-trick away at middle-east funded upstarts Malaga, meaning he now has 76 goals in 71 games for Madrid. Happily though the domination of the TV rich, forever propped up by their unfair system, is currently being usurped by little Levante, top and undefeated after eight games. For Valencia’s second team with a stadium of 25,000 to be doing so well is pretty much like seeing Wigan topping the table, as they are comparable in size and not miles apart in history (Though in truth Levante are like some warmer, sunnier Wigan/West Brom hybrid). This might explain by the young Brazillian Wellington Silva, on loan from Arsenal, is struggling to get game.
Closer to home, Southampton have continued their good start, topping the Championship with a perfect home record after 13 games, closely followed by a clutch of teams led by Middlesborough and surprisingly Crystal Palace. A great start for the newly promoted south coasters, particularly after selling their young prodigy Oxlade-Chamberlain in the summer. Good luck to them, as they seem a pretty well run club at present, and always seem to produce good young footballers.