European football talking points: Vintage Mourinho, Neymar rainbow and lethal Haaland
Five major talking points from the first weekend of European football after the end of January transfer window.
With the relatively boring January transfer window shut, the weekend (thankfully) was all about football on the pitch as the best in Europe resumed their battle for trophies and bragging rights. Barring the the unstoppable Liverpool, who won again in the weekend (this should no longer be news) none of the the top of football clubs in the Premier League did anything to cheer their fans up after a gloomy winter transfer period. That is unless you belong to the rare category of football enthusiasts who believe Tottenham Hotspur deserve to be considered a top team.
Banter aside, Spurs showed once again why they are amongst the best with a morale-boosting win against Manchester City in the weekend. With the insatiable Jose Mourinho at the helm, the North London club will be expected to challenge for trophies in a few months' time (years is a concept reserved for the Oles and the Franks).Judging by the doggedness on display, buoyed by a stellar debut by winter signing Steven Bergwijn, this Spurs team looks set to challenge for trophies in the near future.
With the Premier League ttitle race done and dusted, Serie A and La Liga have taken up the role of being the two-horse races for silverware. Inter Milan under Antonio Conte looks all set to challenge Maurizio Sarri's Juventus while Real Madrid have Barcelona chasing them with new-found energy. In a not-so-surprising turn of events Bayern Munch are back on top the Bundesliga table after a slip up from RB Leipzig.
Here are five talking points from an exciting weekend of European football
Nobody is at the wheel
Mikel Arteta can't get his Arsenal side to score. Ole Gunnar Solksjaer can't get his team to score either. Frank Lampard is struggling to make his team defend. Brendan Rodgers is married to a strange zonal marking. It seems there is Jurgen Klopp's flawless Liverpool and a lot of error-prone sides in the Premier League right now. The fact that no team, including the sides managed by Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho, have managed to string together a good run in this campaign is bewildering. Are Premier League teams being complacent with the money they are generating just by the virtue of just existing in the most-watched league?
Considering the money some of these football clubs have invested in the recent windows, it is mind boggling how poor some of the football has been, Yes, Liverpool have been stunning but they have also been facing teams who despite knowing Klopp's gameplan can't figure out a way to stop them. In some sense, Spurs have been the one showing some ambition by bringing in a top-class player and a manager. And that's strange because the London team would have been the last side you'd expect to show ambition. Strange times for the Premier League.
Oh, Jose! The Portuguese tactician is arguably the most polarizing figure in football right now. You either love him or hate him. There is certainly no in-between. His theatrics at the touchline once again grabbed the limelight as Spurs outfoxed Manchester City on Sunday. It was one of those typical displays by a Mourinho side - good in defence, maintaining the shape and effective on counters. But an incident following the penalty save by Hugo Lloris in the first half is what stood out the most.
A happy Mourinho walks back to his seat in the dugout after the VAR delcares an incident involving Raheem Sterling is not a penalty. But then his assistant reminds him that the City forward is on a yellow card and Jose's reaction to this information, in Millenial terms, was certainly 'meme-worthy'.
Watch the video here
This is bloody brilliant. Mourinho was celebrating Lloris’ penalty save on Gundogan but then when he remembered Sterling had a yellow card and Mike Dean didn’t book him for the second time for the dive, he was absolutely furious.— FutbolBible (@FutbolBible) February 2, 2020
Vintage Jose ???? pic.twitter.com/bcXW4ddClN
Manchester United fans' pain of seeing their side struggle for goals must be compounded by the fact that their ex-player Romelu Lukaku can't stop scoring for his new team Inter Milan. Antonio Conte desperately wanted to sign the Belgian while at Chelsea and you can see why. He knows how to extract the best out of the left-footed striker. Big Rom scored a brace in the weekend away to Udinese to keep pace with Juventus in the battle for the Serie A trophy. He has scored 20 goals (16 in Serie A) in 29 appearances for the Milan side and is only behind Ciro Immobile and Cristiano Ronaldo in the goal scoring charts. What a turnaround for the striker who United fans accused of having a nightmarish first touch.
Watch the match highlights here
Super kids of Europe
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will continue to dominate football for a few more years but there are new kids in the block who look serious contenders to displace the kings from their thrones. 17-year-old Ansu Fati was the star for Barcelona as they overcame a stiff challenge against Levante. The wide forward scored two and was Barca's most potent attacking threat in the match. In Germany, Jadon Sancho continued his records re-writing habit by scoring his 25th goal -- the first player under 20 to do so. The teenager might want to enjoy the moment though because Erling Haaland seems super eager to break that record. The 19-year-old has scored 7 goals in 136 minutes for the team in Yellow (including another brace in the weekend). Who is putting money on another 19 in the remaining matches this season?
You got to feel sorry for Neymar. Who else gets a yellow card for showboating? PSG were once again the winners (surprise, surprise) in Ligue 1 but the referee wasn't really pleased with Neymar's apparent disdain for his opposition who were playing with 10 men. An attempted rainbow-flick, Neymar's signature move to beat his defender, did not please the referee who had a word with the former Barcelona star before booking him. The Brazilian does look like a frustrated figure in Paris and hopefully a big club will save him in the summer.