Another weekend of European football in the books, and once again drama is everywhere. Minnose Wrexham and Stevenage worked their way past Premier League opponents to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup, while Barcelona took a huge step forward from Real Madrid in the La Liga title race.
Sportzshala correspondents Julien Lawrence, James Tyler, Rob Dawson, Alex Kirkland and Sam Marsden share what you need to know about the weekend.
Topics for discussion
The magic of the Cup is alive and well
The first weekend in January is traditionally set aside for the third round of the FA Cup, and part of that tradition is the “cubeset” when a minor league or non-league team surprises a more well-resourced club and steals a memorable victory. It’s a fairy tale as old as time, and this weekend produced some wonderful results that you’ll tell your grandchildren about years from now.
– Broadcasts on Sportzshala+: La Liga, Bundesliga and more (USA)
First of all, Wrexham. Yes, this is a real team, not just a docu-series, and this weekend the Welsh team thrashed Coventry City 4-3 away in front of a rowdy crowd. After taking a 4–1 lead midway through the second half from Paul Mullin’s penalty, they capitalized on their good fortune as Coventry scored twice in seven minutes, causing nervousness in the final 15 minutes.
Sheffield Wednesday (Third Tier) stunned Newcastle United (Premier League) 2-1, League Two Stevenage scored twice in the fading embers of their match to send Aston Villa in collection, Boreham Wood not in into the league, forced a replay with League One’s Accrington Stanley after a 1-1 draw, and West Bromwich Albion (high-flying in the league) needed a goal in the 90th minute to achieve a 3-3 draw (and a replay) against ” Chesterfield, which is not in the league. Even though not many of the biggest teams lost in the third round, the results were still a mix of joy and surprise. This is a weekend like no other. — Tyler
City’s roster is gaining momentum this season
Pep Guardiola has usually preferred to work with a relatively small group of players (albeit very good ones) during his time at Manchester City, but this season he is benefiting from a larger squad. In Sunday’s match against Chelsea, he was able to keep Ederson, Erling Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne on the bench and still comfortably win 4-0, a good sign ahead of a busy second half of the season.
– Ogden: Chelsea fans are fed up that Potter’s team can’t compete
In the past, a couple of injuries have derailed City’s attempts to win an unprecedented quad, but now there’s more power in the depths and that makes it a real opportunity to win four trophies. Guardiola won’t talk about it this early, but having finished second in the Premier League and progressing in the League Cup, FA Cup and Champions League, he’s never been in the best position to achieve something that wasn’t there before in England. football.
In the 2019-20 season, due to injuries, Guardiola fielded field midfielder Fernandinho as a central defender for most of the campaign. Since the World Cup, Guardiola has been without Rubén Diaz, but it has hardly been noticed because he can call on John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, Manuel Akanji and Nathan Ake. There is a long road ahead, but City have the opportunity to do something special this season. — Dawson
The rebirth of Juventus is amazing
This is by far the most unexpected reversal in European football this season. Juventus have risen from the dead, and coach Max Allegri once again proves his tactical flair. With an eighth consecutive league win over Udinese on Saturday (1-0) and an eighth consecutive clean sheet, Juventus are changing their season like never before.
Due to harsh criticism and poor results domestically and in the Champions League Bianconeri once again become an unstoppable, winning machine, like in the good old days.
Even the injuries they have don’t slow them down. Even the mediocre play they sometimes show doesn’t hinder their winning streak. They are solid and do not concede, despite the fact that they give the opponent chances.
When will it stop? Visiting Naples on a Friday night? Potentially, but they could also do a great job defensively, and Enrico Chiesa, Filip Kostic and Adrien Rabiot hit the Serie A leaders in the transition phase. A week after they host Atalanta, which can also be difficult. But for now, no one will be too optimistic about Juventus in their current form. — Lawrence
— Liga Serie A (@SerieA_EN) January 8, 2023
Barcelona took advantage of Real Madrid’s mistake
The La Liga pendulum swung back to Barcelona as they beat Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid lost to Villarreal, leaving Javi Hernandez’s side three points clear at the top of the table after 16 games.
Carlo Ancelotti named a Madrid team without Spanish players for the first time in the club’s history, and then went on to watch his team being torn apart by former Barça manager Quique Setien of Villarreal.
– Marsden: Barcelona win key La Liga victory
Returning to El Madrigal after the renovations, Villarreal were greeted with loud support from the hosts and brought in good money for their 2–1 win when penalties from Yeremi Pino and Gerard Moreno shut out Karim Benzema’s.
This created an intriguing encounter in Madrid on Sunday. Barça had a chance to go three points away again with last weekend’s loss against Espanyol, while Atlético, with a win, could find hope in the title race, eight clear of Real Madrid and Barca points.
However, it was Barça who took advantage of Madrid’s defeat when Ousmane Dembele scored the only goal of the game in the absence of the suspended Robert Lewandowski. Atlético had good value for a draw but couldn’t take risks despite Barca having doubled their shots. José Maria Jiménez shaved off the post, while Antoine Griezmann was thwarted by Marc-André ter Stegen against his former team, and then, in stoppage time, Ronald Araujo cleared the ball from the goal line. — Marsden
Barcelona are three points ahead of Real Madrid after a big win over Atlético 📈 pic.twitter.com/zAU42ytbQm
— Sportzshala FC (@SportzshalaFC) January 8, 2023
A few words about Darwin Nunez
The internet has had a lot of fun with the new Liverpool striker this season, howling gleefully on Twitter about every egregious miss, incomprehensible ball decision or thunderous close-range shot. Yet the Uruguay international is showing no signs of losing confidence and with nine goals in 22 appearances (all competitions) this season, he is still doing what is expected of him.
However, Saturday’s goal was so unexpected given both its simplicity (Trent Alexander-Arnold’s long pass, Nunez’s volley, goal) and the level of difficulty. Not only was Alexander-Arnold’s serve absolutely perfect from this distance, but the casual manner in which Nunez’s outstretched leg simply sent the ball past Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Matija Sarkic was just as impossible. However, the 2-2 draw – and after the Wolves disallowed the winner due to offside – meant the shot lost some of its lustre. — Tyler
DARWIN NUNES ZALPET ON THE RUN 😱
What ball from Trent 🎯 pic.twitter.com/M2zJnGw863
— Sportzshala FC (@SportzshalaFC) January 7, 2023
Touching tribute from Enrique
Luis Enrique’s winning goal against Rayo Vallecano not only propelled Real Betis to a place in the La Liga Champions League, but was also an extremely emotional moment for the young Brazilian, whose father passed away at the end of December. It was also a brilliant individual work.
Enrique is in the center of the circle as he picks up the ball, showing great skill to get past his marker before hitting the box. Once there, he feints on his right foot and digs the ball into the bottom corner.
Having scored, the ex-Fluminense forward knelt down and pointed to the sky. That one was for dad. — Marsden
HIGHLIGHTS: #RayoRealBetis 1-2
— La Liga English (@LaLigaEN) January 8, 2023
This it’s ten witch
Anthony’s Manchester United goal against Everton on Friday was unimpressive, but it showed everything Erik ten Hag is trying to do at Old Trafford.
By moving the ball quickly forward, Marcus Rashford is in a form that scares the defenders, and simply finishing off the Brazilian winger. For too long, United looked like a team without a plan, but under Ten Hague, that became clear. — Dawson
ANTHONY DOESN’T WASTE TIME ON UNITED ⚡ pic.twitter.com/ypBPwt4wwb
— Sportzshala FC (@SportzshalaFC) January 6, 2023
Teams in Trouble
Nice season gets worse and worse after cup humiliation
The last thing Nice need in this very difficult and disappointing season is another bad moment. And guess what they got this weekend? An ignominious exit from the Coupe de France in their first round against a team third from bottom in the third division.
It was a real cup set that Le Puy arranged for Lucien Favre and his team: a 1-0 home win.
Nice should be the top team in Ligue 1, but at the moment this is not the case at all. These are the ruins of a team owned by one of the richest men in Europe.
They are ranked 12th in the league, far from their ambitions and goals at the start of the campaign. They don’t play very well and some players like striker Andy Delors are unhappy and want to leave. This is a catastrophic situation. — Lawrence
Espanyol in relegation battle
Espanyol fell to second place in La Liga after a disappointing 2-2 draw at home to Girona on Saturday. Diego Martinez’s team returned from the World Cup in good shape, drew against Barcelona and beat Celta Vigo to reach the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey.
They came from behind to lead Girona 2-1 at the RCDE Stadium, with a stellar second-half performance led by striker Joselu, who scored his 10th goal of…