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European Round-up: Valencia’s Revival Continues

 • by Ryan Baldi
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Another weekend of European football action is in the books and, once again, several intriguing narratives have been thrown up.

In Spain, Valencia‘s remarkable start to the season continued as they thrashed Sevilla at the Mestalla; the Bundesliga title race took a new twist as points were unexpectedly dropped; and in Italy, champions Juventus were in rampant form to close the gap to Napoli.

We’ve rounded up all the action from Spain, Germany, Italy and France, picking out the most interesting stories that you might have missed.

LA LIGA

Valencia‘s incredible revival under new manager Marcelino continued against Sevilla on Saturday in a battle between two top-four contenders at the Mestalla. Los Che emphatically dispatched their visitors 4-0 to maintain their unbeaten start to the season and staying second only to Barcelona in the table.

On-loan Paris Saint-Germain winger Gonçalo Guedes got the ball rolling with a stunning 20-yard strike into the top corner after 43 minutes, and the Portuguese youngster rounded off proceedings with his second in stoppage time.

West Ham United flop Simone Zaza’s breath-taking form in front of goal shows no sign of stopping: the Italian striker bagged his eighth La Liga goal in nine appearances this term. Only Lionel Messi (11) has scored more than the former Juventus striker.

Valencia finished 12th last season, 26 points behind Sevilla in fourth. After just nine games this term they have already accumulated 21 points, and look a strong bet for a Champions League return. Hopes were high that the east coast club would improve under Marcelino, but few expected the former Villarreal boss to awaken the sleeping giant of a club so soon.

Results:

Levante 1-1 Getafe; Real Betis 2-0 Deportivo Alavés; Valencia 4-0 Sevilla; Barcelona 2-0 Málaga; Villarreal 4-0 Las Palmas; Celta Vigo 0-1 Atlético Madrid; Leganés 1-0 Athletic Bilbao; Real Madrid 3-0 Eibar

SERIE A

After Napoli played out a goalless draw with Inter Milan on Saturday night, Serie A champions Juventus were presented with the chance to narrow the gap to the Partenopei, but it looked as though Massimiliano Allegri’s men were about to squander the opportunity, falling behind against Udinese after just eight minutes.

The Bianconeri, however, despite Mario Mandžukić’s 26th-minute red card, romped to a 6-2 win in Udine, with combative German midfielder Sami Khedira the most unlikely of hat-trick heroes.

The former Real Madrid man completed his treble with three minutes to play, rounding off a rampant attacking display and pulling Juve within one point of second-placed Inter and three behind leaders Napoli.

Lazio are level on points with the champions, as Simone Inzaghi’s side continue to look like real contenders for a top-four spot. The Biancoceleste saw off Cagliari 3-0 on Sunday, with in-form striker Ciro Immobile bagging a brace.

The former Torino man has well and truly put disappointing spells with Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla behind him since moving to the Stadio Olimpico last season. His double this weekend took his tally for the Serie A campaign to a staggering 13 goals from nine games; only Monaco‘s Radamel Falcao can match his return in Europe’s top five league.

Results:

Sampdoria 5-0 Crotone; Napoli 0-0 Inter Milan; Chievo 3-2 Verona; AC Milan 0-0 Genoa; Atalanta 1-0 Bologna; Benevento 0-3 Fiorentina; Spal 0-1 Sassuolo; Torino 0-1 Roma; Udinese 2-6 Juventus; Lazio 3-0 Cagliari

BUNDESLIGA

Dortmund‘s lead at the top of the Bundesliga has been eaten away. Peter Bosz’s side allowed a two-goal advantage to slip, drawing 2-2 with Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. Nuri Şahin and Maximilian Philipp fired BVB into what looked like a comfortable lead, only for Sébastien Haller and Marius Wolf to strike within five minutes of each other to pull the home side level.

That result meant that champions Bayern Munich, now under the auspices of veteran coach Jupp Heynckes – the former Real Madrid boss’ fourth stint at the helm of Germany’s most successful club – would draw level on points with Dortmund if they could overcome Hamburg in the Saturday evening game.

They made a meal of what, to most, looked like a formality on paper, but Bayern eventually left the Imtech Arena with three points thanks to a narrow 1-0 win. The Bavarian giants were aided by Gideon Jung’s first-half dismissal, the 23-year-old midfielder sent off for a late challenge on Kingsley Coman.

French international Corentin Tolisso, a club-record summer signing from Lyon, scored the game’s only goal to ensure Bayern finished the weekend second to Dortmund only by virtue of goal difference.

Results:

Schalke 2-0 Mainz; Eintracht Frankfurt 2-2 Borussia Dortmund; Augsburg 1-2 Hannover; Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-5 Bayer Leverkusen; RB Leipzig 1-0 Stuttgart; Hamburg 0-1 Bayern Munich; Cologne 0-0 Werder Bremen; Freiburg 1-1 Hertha Berlin; Wolfsburg 1-1 Hoffenheim

LIGUE 1

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Big-spending Paris Saint-Germain came within a whisker of losing for the first time this season at they took on bitter rivals Marseille at the Stade Vélodrome.

The home side twice took the lead, first through Luis Gustavo and then again in the second half thanks to former Newcastle United man Florent Thauvin. Neymar drew the league leaders level after 33 minutes, but the Brazilian midfielder was sent off in the 87th minute as the Parisians trailed 2-1.

It appeared as though PSG were destined for their first defeat of 2017/18, only for Edinson Cavani to win a free-kick 25 yards from goal in stoppage time, which he then smashed in off the bar to rescue Unai Emery’s side.

In light of Leicester City‘s recent sacking of Craig Shakespeare, the man he replaced at the King Power Stadium, Claudio Ranieri, could be forgiven for allowing a wry smile to creep across his face.

The veteran Italian boss is now in charge of Nantes and has guided the Brittany side to the lofty heights of third in the Ligue 1 table, just two points behind champions Monaco.

Nantes continued their fine start to the campaign on Saturday with a 2-1 home win over Guingamp.

Results:

Saint-Étienne 0-1 Montpellier; Monaco 2-0 Caen; Amiens 1-0 Bordeaux; Angers 0-1 Toulouse; Metz 1-2 Dijon; Nantes 2-1 Guingamp; Rennes 1-0 Lille; Nice 1-2 Strasbourg; Troyes 0-5 Lyon; Marseille 2-2 Paris Saint-Germain

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