Johnny Gillespie ’20
In an intense weekend for domestic league competitions across Europe, some tides began to shift while other clubs consolidated their superiority. The Premier League has found a way to excite once again, with a race toward Champions League qualification far from settled, while the La Liga title hangs in the balance and Serie A just might prove to be the same old story for the Old Lady.
Manchester United deservedly beat Manchester City 2-0 at Old Trafford with a first home victory over their crosstown rivals since 2015. Ederson proved disastrous on the night, responsible arguably for both goals but undoubtedly for United’s second. United’s victory, which included a clever connection between Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Martial that looked fresh from the training ground, brought them to their first league double over City since the 2009-10 season, likely one of few milestones a United Manager has accomplished for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure. United now sits fifth in the Premier League, a spot that will grant Champions League qualification if City’s 2-year ban holds up, and only 3 points off of Chelsea in fourth. Ole Gunnar Solskjær has inspired the club to a run of ten games without defeat, and is proving his case for occupying the technical area for the Red Devils for the immediate future.
Real Madrid dropped three crucial points in the La Liga title race away at Real Betis, a club whose inconsistency since their managerial shift was not reflected against a complacent Madrid side. This complacency was evident in Casemiro’s failure to play on after a non-call against Betis in the box which resulted in the Seville-based club’s second goal, and with Barcelona victors at the weekend, Real have given up their slim advantage to their bitter rivals by a margin of two points. Both clubs are anticipating matches against opponents currently sitting in the relegation zone, and will hope to take advantage of a proper opportunity to boost their trophy credentials with 11 matches remaining.
Juventus defeated Inter Milan 2-0 behind closed doors in Turin due to efforts toward containing the spread of the coronavirus, an issue that has floated uncertainty around the country as to whether or not the domestic league will finish with all teams having played 38 matches this season. Paulo Dybala came on as a substitute to finish the match with a silky move and finish in the 67th minute. Victory over Inter leaves Juventus 9 points above Inter, but with Lazio only one point behind, Juve cannot comfortably expect an eighth straight Scudetto just yet. All eyes will remain on Italy’s coronavirus containment efforts and how the virus will affect the remainder of the season for the nation’s top-flight competition.
In other matches around Europe, Chelsea defeated Everton 4-0 at Stamford Bridge and could have beaten them by many more, all beginning with a remarkable goal from young attacker Mason Mount. Liverpool returned to winning ways with a 2-1 win over Bournemouth that bodes well for the upcoming Champions second leg against Atlético Madrid in the midweek. Borussia Dortmund defeated Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1 with an amazing goal from Thorgan Hazard to leapfrog RB Leipzig, who drew Wolfsburg 0-0, into second place in the Bundesliga.
As mentioned, the Champions League returns this week with crucial second legs for all clubs involved, matches which we look forward to covering next week.