From Manchester City showing its potential to a missing link for Manchester United, here’s what we learned around Europe this weekend
1) The magic of Guardiola
When everything works in a Pep Guardiola team, it means that ‘everything’ works. Every single bit. To demolish Liverpool 5-0 without conceding, and playing that level of football with that consistency for the whole game is something very few teams will be able to do this year, and Manchester City managed it with such simplicity, that recalled the best Barcelona sides coached by the Catalan manager. Simply unique.
2) Dybala too good for Juve
The way Paulo Dybala changed the face of Juventus’ attack against Chievo is something you don’t see too often. The Argentinian has failed to deliver for his national team, and that’s the last step he will have to make to become a real full-time top-class player. But what he does in Serie A and what he has done in the Champions League last season in the Bianconeri shirt is absolutely top level. Nobody is like this in Serie A: a player who can win a game on his own.
3) Bonucci, the best defender in the world?
When Lazio’s Ciro Immobile dribbled past him so easily, scoring a hat-trick as well, the question immediately was asked: is Leonardo Bonucci really the best defender in the world?
Of course, with Juventus and Italy he has had amazing games, and he remains unique in combining leadership, playing skills and defending, but he’s at his best in a three-man defence, and this limits his utility. Against Lazio his marking was horrible, and someone like him, with the importance he has in the locker room, cannot afford to have another bad afternoon. Or else all of AC Milan’s ambition will be blown away.
4) Mbappe and Neymar will kill Ligue 1
The first game with Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe playing together ended in a 5-1 victory. All three scoring. We mentioned already how Neymar is like the first Ibrahimovic in Ligue 1: simply too good, like a man playing against kids. Mbappe is an added value to PSG, and the quality in that attack is immense. But confronting the average French club won’t be the most balanced thing. The Champions League is where the Parisians really must perform if they are actually at the level they promise to be.
5) Does Man Utd miss Perisic?
The magical volley that sinked SPAL and doubled Inter’s lead in the Nerazzurri’s win is a product of technique and power you rarely see. Ivan Perisic has reached a maturity and a consistency that he lacked previously, being already on three assists and one goal after three Serie A games, all of which won by Inter, who are joint top of the league. A winger of this level could have been very useful for Manchester United, who of course have amazing players anyway. But his ability to create and his quality in being concretely useful are extra weapons that could have helped Josè Mourinho in building an even better side.