Barça and Milan lay imposing early markers

Published: Monday 30 August 2010
The title races are up and running in Spain and Italy and it was FC Barcelona and AC Milan who made the strongest first impressions, with José Mourinho's Real Madrid CF held to a 0-0 draw.
Barça and Milan lay imposing early markers
Lionel Messi put Barcelona on the road to victory after just three minutes ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 30 August 2010

Barça and Milan lay imposing early markers

The title races are up and running in Spain and Italy and it was FC Barcelona and AC Milan who made the strongest first impressions, with José Mourinho's Real Madrid CF held to a 0-0 draw.

FC Barcelona and AC Milan left the most searing impressions as the new seasons kicked off in Spain and Italy, while José Mourinho's Real Madrid CF could only manage a 0-0 draw and Juventus slipped to defeat. casts a glance back over the best of the recent action.

Barcelona will not relinquish their Liga crown without an almighty tussle if the opening-day signs are anything to go by. Indeed, not only did they post a healthy 3-0 success at Real Racing Club on Sunday, coach Josep Guardiola could afford to find faults. "We lacked a little spark," he said, after Lionel Messi had given the visitors a third-minute lead and goals from Andrés Iniesta and summer signing David Villa completed the victory.

With Barça free to celebrate their winning start, the spotlight then shifted to Mourinho's Madrid, who failed to follow suit and were held at bay away against RCD Mallorca. Ambitious duo Sevilla FC and Valencia CF proved more effective, meanwhile, Abdoulay Konko striking twice for the former in a 4-1 triumph at Levante UD and Joaquín doing likewise as Los Che won 3-1 at Málaga CF.

With FC Internazionale Milano not beginning their title defence until Monday's trip to face Bologna FC – who dismissed coach Franco Colomba on Sunday – the titleholders' sternest rivals were given the chance to make an early statement. The message communicated by Juventus nonetheless missed the mark, with Massimo Donati consigning them to a 1-0 loss at AS Bari. "We're only at the beginning," explained Juve coach Luigi Delneri. "The team tried to do all it could to unblock the game and we lacked a bit of courage in attack."

AS Roma fared only marginally better as they were held to a goalless home draw by promoted AC Cesena, so that left Milan to make a positive impression, Pato scoring twice as the Rossoneri defeated US Lecce 4-0. UC Sampdoria likewise impressed in their 2-0 win over S.S. Lazio.

Sunday's action supplied the most goals in a single game as VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach won 6-3 at Bayer 04 Leverkusen, but for entertainment value it was difficult to beat the performance of 1. FSV Mainz 05, who recovered from 3-0 down to triumph 4-3 at 2008/09 champions VfL Wolfsburg. "It's hard to explain," said defeated coach Steve McClaren. "We had everything under control and then the team just stopped playing football.''

Plenty of eyebrows were also raised at 1. FC Kaiserslautern on Friday, with the new boys seeing off titleholders FC Bayern München 2-0. The victors are one of five teams with maximum points, including Hannover 96 who ran out 2-1 winners at FC Schalke 04, while VfB Stuttgart are among five yet to get off the mark after they lost 3-1 at home to BV Borussia Dortmund.

The Premier League summit has a familiar feel, with Chelsea FC, Arsenal FC and Manchester United FC in the top three spots. The Blues beat Stoke City FC 2-0, Arsenal edged past Blackburn Rovers FC 2-1 and United saw off West Ham United FC 3-0. "We didn't play our best football but we were focused and concentrated – it's important to win," said Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti.

The top four is completed by Aston Villa FC, 1-0 winners against Everton on Sunday. Fernando Torres scored the only goal as Liverpool FC beat West Bromwich Albion FC, while Manchester City FC were defeated by Sunderland AFC striker Darren Bent's added-time penalty. The biggest upset, though, came on Saturday, Wigan Athletic FC prevailing 1-0 against Tottenham Hotspur FC.

The high-profile meeting between FC Girondins de Bordeaux and Olympique de Marseille did not disappoint as Anthony Modeste's 88th-minute leveller denied the titleholders what would have been a noteworthy result. Lucho González had put OM ahead after just 12 minutes and they looked to be coping with the 33rd-minute dismissal of Édouard Cissé until hosts Bordeaux displayed their stubborn side.

The team on top are Toulouse FC, however, after they extended Ligue 1's only 100% record by prevailing 2-0 at AS Nancy-Lorraine. "I have a quality squad of players who want to make up for last season," said TFC coach Alain Casanova. Elsewhere, Olympique Lyonnais suffered their second reverse of the season, 2-0 at FC Lorient, and fellow UEFA Champions League hopefuls AJ Auxerre succumbed by the same scoreline at AS Monaco FC.

Rest of Europe
AFC Ajax, Feyenoord and Dutch titleholders FC Twente scored 13 goals without reply in their weekend victories, sweeping aside De Graafschap, Vitesse and FC Utrecht respectively. Those results kept Ajax top, with PSV Eindhoven second despite a 2-2 draw with ADO Den Haag. Over in Greece, Olympiacos FC – defeated 2-1 by Iraklis FC – failed to win their Super League opener, as did Panathinaikos FC, who drew 1-1 with Xanthi FC. As for Turkish heavyweights Fenerbahçe SK and Galatasaray AŞ, they both recovered from midweek UEFA Europa League exits with wins.

Check's MatchCentre for a full run down of all the weekend's domestic scores.

Last updated: 30/08/10 7.59CET

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