Published on August 21st, 2017 | by Vieri Capretta0
Top 5 – Neymar’s bully pit and what else we learned this weekend
Chelsea reverted to title-winning form in Tottenham tussle, and Neymar has all his wishes come true – a big fish in a small French pond
5) Nothing less than the best for Chelsea
It was a difficult start to their Premier League campaign with an opening loss at home to Burnley, but Chelsea are back in business after the fine victory at Tottenham Hotspur’s temporary ground, Wembley Stadium.
The Blues were not dominant against Spurs, who are also a very good side, but were victorious in the end, building on Marcos Alonso’s fantastic free-kick and developing Antonio Conte’s game, with high pressing, fast passing and constant movement. Chelsea can do it again. They can win back-to-back Premier League titles. But to do so, the London side will always have to give their all, just like they had to against Spurs.
4) Neymar is another level for Ligue 1
The biggest transfer story of the summer and a record-breaking fee, Neymar is now what he wanted to be: a big fish in a small pond. Having escaped Lionel Messi’s shadow, at Paris Saint Germain, the Brazilian is the number 10, the absolute leader and the biggest star. But until Neymar shows his worth in the Champions League, in Ligue 1 he is way too dominant for it to even be fun. Another two goals and two assists in his second game at home to Toulouse: just way too easy for him. Neymar is like the first Zlatan Ibrahimovic to play for PSG: simply another level for this league.
3) Serie A could be best ever for balance
The last time Roma, Inter, AC Milan, Juventus and Napoli all won in the opening Serie A game was 18-years-ago. It happened again this time, with four out of five teams scoring three goals, and only Napoli conceding. Incredible figures that demonstrate two things: the difference between the top clubs and the small clubs in Serie A is still ridiculously huge. But at the top, the summer transfer window seems to have balanced out the teams, and this could finally be a season with a proper title race and maybe with another club lifting the trophy other than Juventus.
2) Work to be done on video refereeing
The Video Assistant Referee has made its debut in the Bundesliga and in Serie A and showed the same issues as the Confederations Cup: there is work to be done. Some of the decisions take way too long, and from the stands it isn’t very clear what is going on. Also, because the system can only be used in specific cases, on borderline affairs when it clearly should be used but isn’t, it causes the ire of players and managers. It is a very useful tool, no doubt about that, but clearer rules on how to use it must be in place.
1) La Liga back to two horse race
Over the past 15 years, La Liga has largely been a fight between Barcelona and Real Madrid, bar Atletico Madrid’s victory in 2014. And this season promises to be the same again, if there is a fight at all. Both teams won their first game, and very comfortably too, but if Real Madrid are as solid as ever and look like they could even win a third consecutive Champions League, Barcelona might struggle to keep up in the long term. So nothing new in La Liga: it’s a fight between the same two teams, with Real Madrid ready to end it early on.