THE DRAMA IN OVERDRIVE AS SUNDAY'S FESTIVAL OF FOOTBALL LIVES UP TO ITS BILLING- WHAT WERE THE LESSONS LEARNED?
It’s finally in the books. After the excitement reached a fever pitch, the anticipation rose to unimaginable levels, Sunday’s “Festival of Football” delivered and then some. There was drama, controversy, sadness and exuberance in equal measure as top sides across the major leagues locked horns in a memorable day of football. After FootTheBall brought you comprehensive match reports of all the action, here is all the fallout from an unforgettable day of football. So strap in as we take you through the lessons learned from a memorable day-
NO WAY BACK FOR OLE
People saw this coming, but still didn’t. A 0-5 loss to Liverpool. In the last few years, a loss against Liverpool has generally been the nadir of the reigns of most United managers. Jose Mourinho was dismissed after a limp 3-0 defeat to the Reds. Old Trafford was memorably defiant as Moyes’ United lost to Liverpool 0-3 at home. For Ole, who is yet to taste a victory against Klopp’s team so far, this game seemed like make or break. Although United fans went into the game with trepidation due to the team’s questionable showing, there was a layer of belief too.
The loss was probably expected such was the standard of United’s performances leading up to the game. Still, the manner of the loss, the sheer humbling of this English giant in front of its own fans, gave it the feel of a funeral of Ole’s career as Man Utd manager.
❌ 4-0 down at half-time.
📕 Pogba sent off 15 minutes after coming on.
🤯 1 clean sheet in 21 games.
— SPORF (@Sporf) October 24, 2021
Liverpool looked like men against boys of United. Clinical up front, assertive in midfield and defence, pressing with intensity and a plan, all the ingredients were there that make a successful team. Manchester United, on the other hand, looked like the antithesis of all these values and principles. Down by four goals by half-time, United looked dead and buried. “Ole’s juju”, as in, the ability of United to always get a result when their backs are against the wall, has been a common meme among the United fans. However, individual performances can mask the systemic problems for only so long. Mohammed Salah, Naby Keita and Diogo Jota, the scorers on the day, had a field day with all the space provided by a United defence all at sea.
United looked clueless on the pitch, and timid off of it. A red card for Paul Pogba after a wild lunge compounded the misery, and it was only because Liverpool took mercy that the game ended 0-5. If the pressure was on Ole before the game, the dam is threatening to burst now. City await in two weeks.
SERIE A IS MUST-WATCH THIS SEASON
Red cards for both managers in one game, a late penalty to equalise in the other, top two teams level on points. This year’s Serie A is guaranteed entertainment.
If you thought a goalless draw could be boring, then yesterday’s game between AS Roma and Napoli will prove you wrong. As is tradition for Mourinho in big games, his Roma side made their game against Napoli a battle of attrition. High-flying Napoli, who had won all their games in the league before this one, were held to a 0-0 draw at Roma’s stadium. Again, as is tradition for Mourinho, the spotlight after the game was on him. The Roma manager was sent to the stands for his antics on the sideline, with his opposition counterpart following him afterwards, as Spalletti got carded too for sarcastically congratulating the referee. The most entertaining 0-0 draw one could have hoped for. Still, Serie A was not done.
Mourinho has been sent off during Roma's 0 – 0 draw against Napoli after a sarcastic thumbs up to the referee.
Spalleti was also red carded after he Congratulated the ref after the final whistle.
— Carol Radull (@CarolRadull) October 24, 2021
Defending champions Inter took on fallen giants seeking resurgence in Juventus. After Dzeko put Inter on their way with a goal in the 17th minute, it looked like Juventus would get “Allegri’d”, in that they would lose by a single goal. However, the theme of late drama was to continue. An intervention from VAR handed Juventus a penalty in the 89th minute. Paulo Dybala tucked it away to share the spoils in a hotly contested game.
FUNCTIONAL REAL MADRID ARE TITLE FAVOURITES
Gone are the days of both Real Madrid and Barcelona finishing with more than 90 points in a tight title race. Atletico Madrid led the way last season with a functional, rather than dominating season and Real Madrid look set to do the same this season.
Going to Camp Nou to face a Barcelona side slowly gaining confidence, this was a match of equals, but in a rather unflattering way. Both the giants look like a shadow of their former selves. Still, while Barcelona are a young side getting into their stride, Real Madrid are full of experienced professionals who know how to get the job done.
This was on full display, as David Alaba slotted home the opener for Madrid, before their experience allowed them to sail through the game, with minimal threat from Barcelona. Last minutes saw two goals, with Vazquez doubling the lead before Aguero pulled one as a consolation.
Real Madrid are now just one point off the top, with a game in hand, while being two ahead of city rivals Atletico. Barcelona’s title ambitions are probably dead in the water and they would hope to confirm a UCL place by being more consistent. Over the course of season, it would be hard to bet against Real Madrid’s experience, which makes them title favourites at this point.
PSG IS A COLLECTION OF TALENTED INDIVIDUALS, NOT A TEAM
A collection of talented individuals might be enough for PSG to win the domestic league, but on current performances, they are nowhere near coherent enough as a team. This is still early into the season but on current form, not many would back them to lift the holy grail, the Champions League trophy.
PSG were involved in a lively affair in Le’Classique, against Marseille, which ultimately ended goalless. Although PSG edged Marseille in xG, their attack still looks disjointed, their defence isolated, and their midfield dependent on Verratti. Messi still searches for his first goal contribution for his new club domestically. The defence gets put under a lot of pressure due to the reluctance of their front three to engage in defensive phases. Achraf Hakimi saw red in yesterday’s game and PSG had to settle for a draw.
⏱️ 90+4' FULL-TIME | The Olympiens get a point from this Clasico.
— Olympique de Marseille 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 (@OM_English) October 24, 2021
While manager Mauricio Pochettino no doubt has an embarrassment of riches to choose his side from, the struggle to find balance has been a constant theme this season. PSG are already running away with the Ligue 1 title after 28 points from 11 games, but they will need to perform as a team by finding the right balance if they are to contend for the UCL title.