Seven of the top clubs in the world; seven top notch managers; seven new managers ; seven contrasting results. Here’s a look at each of them.
Best result: Manchester United’s 4-1 away win versus a tough Swansea unit. Most pundits predicted Michael Laudrup’s suave unit to take some points out of this game. David Moyes’s desperate search for a quality midfielder added more fuel to such predictions. But when you have Robin with you, all’s well that ends Well(beck)! Manchester United have the toughest draw running up to early October and title rivals (realistically, only two shades of blue!) are hoping they drop truck loads of points now, because post-Christmas, the Red Devils, traditionally, have an invincible aura around them.
Routine result: Manchester City won 4-0 at their fortress, the Etihad stadium versus Newcastle United, in a game which was destined to end this way. The sky blues have had the best squad in the English Premier League since 2011, but have hardly shown any conviction in the trophies they collected under Roberto Mancini. With Manuel Pellegrini at the helm, two classy Spaniards purchased, and some big money splashed on Fernandinho and Jovetic, Manchester City have to show some domination and bully over the league table. The toughest Premier League ever awaits them!
Refreshing result: Chelsea won 2-0 playing slick football for 45 mins versus Hull City Tigers. Jose Mourinho’s side understandably took their foot off the pedal in the second half due to a mid week game coming up. Here’s hoping the Blues continue to play this brand of soccer versus the top sides too, and not just while bullying newly promoted teams. With an array of attacking talent, the loyalists deserve more.
‘Ominous signs’ result: FC Barcelona romped to 7-0 win vs Levante with five different scorers. Tata Martino’s side were 6-0 up by half time, with each of the goals a lesson in one-touch football. While viewers watched almost PlayStation soccer on TV screens, Neymar, Iniesta and Jordi Alba and the rest of the Nou Camp watched from their respective seats! Yet, the new coach had one objective – keep a clean sheet versus a team which finish 11th last season. The only regret I as a viewer had, was that man of the match and utterly unselfish Cesc Fabregas couldn’t get on the score sheet.
Luckiest result : Real Madrid scraped to a 2-1 win, scoring in the 85th minute in a game where Real Betis led early, dominated, hit the woodwork twice & had a penalty denied. Carlo Ancelotti was saved the blues by probably the smartest signing in world football this summer – Isco. Along with new signing Illarramendi, Real Madrid have shown a praiseworthy vision, where young, local, world class talent will be the spine of their future teams. It was also a rare weekend when Cristiano didn’t score while Lionel Messi did… the reverse is the norm. The score now reads Messi 2 – Ronaldo 0.
Unluckiest result: Paris Saint Germain 1-1 at Ajaccio, after PSG hit the woodwork five times, had two penalty denied, and a shots on goal ratio of 34:1! Laurent Blanc’s PSG now has consecutive draws, both come from behind, and increasing pressure on the new manager. Never ever have I seen a game where 34 chances were converted to just one goal. Ajaccio goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa should have been given three man of the match awards, only for this one performance. And pray, pray, your favourite team doesn’t need to go through a night like this in any knock-out competition. If that happens, tears and ignominy will be your only friends. And yes, do not underestimate Ligue 1 – the world’s top three strikers play there – and do Youtube Edinson Cavani’s strike!
‘Deep sigh of relief’ result: Bayern Munich cantered to a 1-0 win, their second consecutive win in Bundesliga. It had all the pundits still dissecting any loopholes they could find in the German club. Combining the Munchen unit’s roaring success of last season, and Pep Guardiola’s appointment, the footballing world expects them to win all games from here. Pep has little to gain, but Bayern Munich have got the attention they craved for from this appointment – world media (newspaper, TV channels, talk shows) are now dedicating significantly more time and space to the happenings around the Allianz arena than they did ever before.