At some point this season, it looked certain that Ousmane Dembélé’s time at Barcelona would soon be over. He was dogged with accusations of unprofessionalism and was even dropped from the squad to face Real Betis after he reportedly failed to turn up for training earlier this month. The young French winger has however turned his season around, with some encouraging performances in recent weeks.
Against Villarreal on Sunday, the former Borussia Dortmund man stood out with his display as he set up the opener for Gerard Pique in a 2-0 win for the Catalans. All the talk of a potential transfer in January that had started to surface have suddenly died down.
Both Teams to Score (BTTS) market in Serie A
It was an action-packed weekend in Serie A, as all but three of the 18 participating teams found the back of the net. Two of those were up against each other, when Sassuolo held Udinese to a goalless draw at home. Fiorentina were hapless in their 0-3 defeat to Juventus on Saturday. Seven of the other nine matches featured BTTS, which hopefully translated into some happy returns for punters.
With every passing week, the potential of Borussia Dortmund usurping Bayern Munich as Bundesliga champions becomes more real. Lucien Favre’s boys beat Freiburg thanks to a first half penalty from Marco Reus and a 90th minute goal from the prolific Paco Alcácer. Bayern also won their match, but they are not even Dortmund’s closest challengers at the moment. Second-placed Borussia Monchengladbach were beaten 2-0 by RB Leipzig, to hand BVB a healthy seven point lead at the top of the table.
Diego Simeone’s tactics
Diego Simeone has rightfully gained reputation as one of Europe’s most astute tacticians. For almost a decade now, his philosophy has led Atletico Madrid to some historic successes domestically and in Europe. The Rojiblancos have encountered a bit of a problem this season though, as they are now playing in a league that appears to be more competitive than at any other point in recent history. After a respectable 1-1 draw against Barça last week, a similar score line against Girona on Sunday has put Simeone’s tactics a little under the microscope.
Juventus’ chasing pack
Juventus are chasing their eighth consecutive Serie A title. Teams all around them have been doing everything in their power to try and stop that from happening. This was not a particularly successful weekend for the chasing pack in that regard. Juve coasted to a 3-0 win over Fiorentina. Inter Milan and AS Roma were deadlocked in a 2-2 draw, while Lazio were held to a 1-1 draw at bottom-of-the table Chievo. Napoli were due to face Atalanta on Monday night.
Monaco boss Thierry Henry has sadly become a fixture on this list, as he has only won one of his nine matches in charge of the Principality club. He saw his side slump to defeat once again, this time against Montpellier on Saturday despite having taken the lead in the first half. In his defence, he did inherit a team that was already largely incoherent, but he will no doubt be smarting from six defeats so far.