It has been a week with some thrilling football action and there were plenty of stand-out goals as well as drama (read VAR) to talk about. Here are the top talking points in world football from this weekend:
1. Barcelona go down, Real Madrid have an encouraging start
Barcelona, who won the last two La Liga titles, started their title defence this weekend with a loss in the absence of Lionel Messi. New signing Antoine Griezmann failed to make a difference against Athletic Bilbao as the Blaugrana lost their opening match for the first time in a decade on Friday night.
Aritz Aduriz scored from a spectacular overhead kick a minute after coming off the bench in the 88th minute, handing Barcelona the loss after 10 straight opening league wins.
Meanwhile, Zinedine Zidane’s revamped Real Madrid got the spark it needed to get off to a winning start in the Spanish league. In the absence of injured new signing Eden Hazard, it was Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale who made the difference as Los Blancos defeated Celta Vigo 3-1 in their opening match.
Bale, who many thought would be out of the squad, set up Benzema’s opening goal before Toni Kroos and Lucas Vazquez added to the lead in a match in which Madrid played most of the second half with 10 men following a red card to Luka Modric. After the match, Zidane declared that Bale would be staying in the club.
2. VAR steals the headlines again
The Video Assistant Referee and the title holders of the English Premier League aren’t getting along. A week after Manchester City’s goal was disallowed in their season-opening match against West Ham, Pep Guardiola’s side saw another controversial decision going against them when they took on Tottenham Hotspur in a game that ended in a 2-2 draw.
With the the new handball rule removing the need for intent to be considered and even accidental contact with the hand being enough to rule out a goal, Manchester City saw a winning goal being nullified.
A late goal from striker Gabriel Jesus was ruled out by VAR. While the English champions celebrated what they thought was the winning goal, VAR spotted a handball by City defender Aymeric Laporte before Jesus struck home.
3. Guardiola-Aguero touchline row
Manchester City’s top scorer of all-time Sergio Aguero was pipped to leave when Pep Guardiola was roped in as the squad’s new manager in 2016. While the forward stayed, their chemistry, something the Spanish manager enjoys with the rest of the players, isn’t quite there.
Aguero, who had restored City’s lead in the 35th minute, was not happy when he was replaced by Jesus. Making his frustration obvious, the two exchanged words at the touchline and it went on for quite some time.
Guardiola, however, said after the match, “Aguero believed I was upset with him for the goal we conceded. The goal we conceded was a corner. I wanted one on one movement. He thought I was upset with him. I am sometimes exaggerated on the touchline but few times am I upset with the players. I was a football player, I know what it is like to be in there. Emotion is part of our game. We talked after and during. He’s a guy I love a lot.”
4. Lampard’s winless run continues
Frank Lampard’s homecoming hasn’t been a dream for Chelsea, with the side not winning any of the three matches since the start of the season. A week into his tenure, the Blues lost their opening match to Manchester United 4-0, lost mid-week UEFA Super Cup title to Liverpool before drawing with Leicester City this weekend.
Lampard acknowledged he would be judged on results and admitted frustration over the performance. He said it was the mid-week fixture fatigue that resulted in 1-1 draw to Leicester. “I hate the tiredness excuse, but it has to be a factor in the second half of the game,” Lampard said.
5. Bayern, PSG get nothing to boast about
German and French giants Bayern Munich and Paris St Germain haven’t had anything to boast about since the start of the season.
The seven-time Bundesliga champions were held to a 2-2 draw by Hertha Berlin in the opening game on Friday. Robert Lewandowski scored twice but Bayern failed to make the most of their chances, which Hertha made the most of. Will Phillipe Coutinho’s transfer from Barcelona provide the Bayern squad the boost they’re seeking?
PSG, meanwhile, suffered a 2-1 loss to Rennes in the absence of Neymar. Skipper Thiago Silva, however, said that the ongoing saga around the Brazilian’s future played no part in his team’s poor performance. “For everyone it’s difficult, but it’s not an excuse,” he told Canal Plus television channel. “Neymar was not there. We must think of ourselves. I hope it’s the last (defeat of the season).”