European football is back and in full steam. Where so many things have stayed the same, there are new scripts being written. We take a trip across the various leagues in session looking for the novel and interesting things that happened last week.
Etebo scores his first Getafe goal
Nigeria international Oghenekaro Etebo played in the third match after the La Liga restart and registered his first goal for Getafe, the team he joined in the January transfer window from Championship side, Stoke City. The 24-year-old midfielder made his second start and swept home from close range to give his UEFA Champions League-chasing team the lead. But Eibar fought back to earn a point. Getafe have only taken two points from the three matches and have slipped to fifth in the league standings with eight matches left in the 2019/20 season.
Lionel Messi is more equal than other footballers
Lionel Messi has the freedom to do whatever he wants with the ball at his feet but when he puts his hands up to shove an opponent, football law demands action. Referee Jose Luis Gonzalez shirked that responsibility last Friday when Messi shoved Sevilla’s Diego Carlos at the very end of the first half in the damaging 0-0 result. It looks like a scene out of George Orwell’s Animal Farm where “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” In a poll conducted by Marca, 41 per cent of the respondents said Messi should have been shown a red card.
Leno injury and Arsenal constancy
Some say that change is the only constant, Arsenal FC can be added to that constancy. Where COVID-19 has changed the world, Arsenal continue to emphasise that it does not matter who manages the team, the showing and results remain the same. After David Luiz’s embarrassing performance against Manchester City, there was another shameful showing at the AMEX Stadium when the Gunners gave away a one-goal lead, scored by Nicolas Pepe in the 68th, and contrived a 2-1 loss to Brighton. The Gunners, especially Matteo Guendouzi, then showed their angst against Neal Maupay, who scored Brighton’s winner after injuring first choice goalkeeper, Bernd Leno, in the first half. Apparently, that was the reason they lost – we can say that is clutching at straws – not entirely inconsistent with the recent Arsenal vintage.
Lewandowski’s goal resolve is unmatched
Bayern Munich’s supreme poacher, Robert Lewandowski, should be another name for resolve. When does the Polish striker ever relent in scoring? Even after Bayern were crowned Bundesliga champions for the eighth consecutive season, Lewandowski is still going after goals and he showed that hunger by scoring a brace against Freiburg last Saturday. It was the Pole’s 32nd and 33rd league goals, a new personal mark for a foreigner in the Bundesliga. According to the Bundesliga website, “Only four times in Bundesliga history has someone scored more goals in a single campaign: Bayern icon Gerd Müller, who hit 40 (1971/72), 38 (1969/70) and 36 (1972/73), as well as Cologne’s Dieter Müller, who posted 34 in 1976/77.”
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Goal-line technology in EPL farce
The ball was so far over the line, it should have been given without the help of goal-line technology but since that part of the game handed that responsibility to technology, referees and assistant referees have become–let’s just say lazier. Sheffield United thought they had the go-ahead goal against Aston Villa when Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland was bumped by his own defender and subsequently carried the ball over the line, but referee Michael Oliver did not receive a signal on his wrist apparatus to give the goal. Afterward, Hawk-Eye apologised and said that was the first failure in almost 9000 tests. Technology can also fail!
Rostov goalkeeper is named MVP despite 10-1 loss
It is not every day that a goalkeeper concedes 10 goals and wins the man of the match award. That played out in the Russian Premier League last weekend. When six first team players of FC Rostov were diagnosed with Covid-19, the team’s manager, former Russian international, Valeri Karpin, had no other option than to draft in the youth team as the whole senior team had to be quarantined. Amazingly, Rostov lost 10-1 even though they scored the first goal of the match and their goalkeeper, 17-year-old Denis Popov who conceded 10 times, set a league record as he made 15 saves, which included a penalty from Anton Zabolotny and was thereafter named as the match’s most valuable player. Talk of mixed blessings!
Three Real Madrid captains against Sociedad
The big story for Real Madrid last weekend was their upstaging Barcelona to assume leadership of the La Liga table. But there were other asides. The captain, Sergio Ramos, by scoring a penalty against Real Sociedad upstaged former Barcelona defender, Ronald Koeman, to become the highest scoring defender in La Liga history with his 68th goal–his seventh in the current campaign. Ramos then got injured and passed the captain’s band to Marcelo, who was then taken off and the band ultimately passed to Raphael Varane – talk of passing the baton.