For all the top clubs that suffered shocking results over the weekend around Europe, there was, thankfully, the excuse of international football. Despite the fatigue involved in travelling across the globe to represent your country (not to mention the two midweek games), the teams you would put your money on to collect the three points – the Milan’s, Manchester United’s, Roma’s, Barcelona’s, Liverpool’s and Bayern’s – were all left red-faced with embarrassed. Moreover, the fact that it was very much business as usual for their primary competitors such as Inter Milan, Arsenal, Chelsea and Real Madrid would be a matter of worry for those teams. Here is a break-down of the great ‘shocks’ of the weekend.
An Herculean Effort
Any person in their right mind would have bet that Barcelona would easily conquered recently promoted Hercules. After, it was a team that started with Messi, Villa, Iniesta and Mascherano (just to name a few) and played in a fortress that is their own Camp Nou. However, their opposition played in such a way that the spirit of their more accomplished namesake would have been proud. Nelson Valdez netted twice for Hercules as went out to win a memorable and historic win.
Fabulous Four Fall Flat
They were labelled favourites after the events that transpired over the final few hours of the summer transfer window. Robinho and former nemesis, Zlatan Ibrahimovich were brought in to add to the already formidable Brazilian duo of Ronaldinho and Pato. Despite all that, AC Milan were another of the teams to fall to another one of those newly promoted giant killers. Their 2-0 loss to Cesena, yet again enforces the fact that despite the riches up front, Milan are not that adept at defence. Away games also seem to be an issue; this was their fourth loss on their travels.
Fall of Rome
When Roma, a team with title aspirations, visited Cagliari, a middle table team, one would never have expected the score line of 5-1 against Roma. Once they were a man down (after a horror tackle), and a goal down at 2-1, they were vulnerable to an waves of Cagliari pressure. The loss will be a shock to fans, and pile more pressure on Ranieri.
Roo’ing Another Missed Opportunity
Puns such as the above one dominated headlines throughout the week in the build up to Saturday’s fixture between Everton and Manchester United. The ‘will he or won’t he’ play Rooney questions were answered when Sir Alex Ferguson announced his team to face Everton; Rooney was completely left out of the team. On paper, again one would have picked Alex Ferguson to get the better of his countryman David Moyes, however, as it has been in recent fixtures, Everton at Goodison Park are a tough opponent for Manchester United. Failures to clear the ball in the air from Patrice Evra (who is looking really fragile at the moment after his world cup exploits) and Johnny Evans allowed Everton to score whenever they got forward. Gary Neville’s age showed as he failed to deal with Steven Peinaar.
This has been a very interesting week in regards to shock results. Liverpool succumbed to a 0-0 draw against Birmingham. Man City and Tottenham couldn’t manage a better result than 1-1 draws against Blackburn and WBA respectively. Bayern Munich, as well, failed to win. Teams such as Real Madrid and Inter won, although not convincingly. Add to that the humbling Spain suffered by the hands of Argentina.
This was indeed a strange week.