European football talking points: Five key stories from La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga

Adam Hamdani
The Independent

There were a number of eye-catching results around Europe this weekend, ahead of the return of the Champions League.

In Spain, Real Madrid fell to a shock defeat, while there were finally signs that Barcelona’s front three are beginning to gel after an encouraging win over Eibar.

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Meanwhile in the Bundesliga, there were disappointing draws for both Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig, with Borussia Mönchengladbach sitting pretty at the top of the table.

And in Italy, there were wins for Serie A heavyweights Juventus, Inter Milan and Napoli.

Here are five talking points you need to know.

Barcelona’s front three finally find a groove

Barca's front three are finding their form (Getty)
Barca's front three are finding their form (Getty)

Lionel Messi’s injury problems had prevented Barca’s attacking trio of the Argentine, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann from hitting the ground running this season but they finally produced a display worthy of their collective talent.

All three forwards got on the scoresheet for the first time this season to sink Eibar and each player participated in the second and third goals, scored by Messi and Suarez respectively.

But it was the performance of Griezmann, who has been criticised for his slow adaptation to the team since switching from Atletico Madrid, that was the most impressive.

The Frenchman worked hard all game and dictated Barca’s play from deep, at times operating as a playmaker and as an incisive wide forward at others.

Bayern switch off at start and end

Bayern missed the chance to go top of the Bundesliga (Getty)
Bayern missed the chance to go top of the Bundesliga (Getty)

Bayern Munich dominated proceedings against fellow Bavarian side Augsburg but lapses in concentration at the start and the end of the 90 minutes saw them drop points for the second game in a row as they missed out on going top of the table.

The champions fell behind after 28 seconds due to Marco Richter’s volley but turned things around with strikes from Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry and should have killed the game off.

Instead, they allowed the hosts to counter-attack in stoppage time and Alfred Finnbogason netted from close range.

There was another dose of bad news for Bayern as defender Niklas Sule suffered a serious knee injury during the game, ruling the Germany international out for several months.

Atletico winless streak sees them lose pace

Atletico are struggling for form (Getty)
Atletico are struggling for form (Getty)

When Barcelona and Real Madrid made difficult starts to the campaign the time looked ripe for another title challenge from Atletico Madrid but Diego Simeone’s side are now in a rut of their own and their lack of ambition could be to blame.

Despite a strong start against Valencia which saw Diego Costa score from the penalty spot, they seemed intent on seeing out a 1-0 win and were eventually punished by Dani Parejo’s late free kick.

After winning their first three games, Atletico only have one victory in their last six games, scoring three goals in the process.

Sarri wants Juventus to be more ruthless

Juventus only narrowly saw off Bologna (Reuters)
Juventus only narrowly saw off Bologna (Reuters)

One of Massimiliano Allegri’s favourite themes during his five years at Juventus coach, which saw him win five successive Serie A titles, was the importance of “administering the match.”

Allegri would frequently emphasise that his team should pace themselves and not relentlessly push forward, even against weaker opponents. It was effective but, by the end of his spell in charge, Juve had become a somewhat unsatisfying team to watch.

Maurizio Sarri, who replaced Allegri after the end of last season, has taken a different approach as he explained after Saturday’s 2-1 win over Bologna which kept the Turin side top of the league standings.

“I don’t want to administer the matches, I want to liquidate them,” he said.

“I told the lads that we mustn’t try to control a game, sit on a lead or be comfortable because otherwise we leave ourselves in these risky situations to the very end. We have to keep attacking until the result is assured.”

Leipzig’s early promise fades

Leipzig need to improve (Getty)
Leipzig need to improve (Getty)

RB Leipzig looked primed to join Borussia Dortmund as Bayern’s main challengers this season after winning five of their first six games but they have since gone off the boil, picking up two points in their last three league outings.

After grabbing a late equaliser in their previous game at Bayer Leverkusen, this time Leipzig conceded in the latter stages of the game to draw 1-1 with Wolfsburg, missing out on the chance to go top.

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