6 Things You May Have Missed From Around Europe This Weekend

Mainland Europe was a feisty place in football this weekend with red cards, hard-fought comebacks and scheduling controversy dominating the headlines from Spain to Turkey.

Here are six things you may have missed from around Europe this weekend.

6. Cold Caldara

Napoli became the outright leaders of Serie A this weekend, with a 3-0 win over Cagliari. I Ciucciarelli are now the first team in the division’s history to score 25 goals in their opening seven fixtures.

Meanwhile closest challengers, Juventus slipped up in Bergamo with a 2-2 draw against Atalanta. 

Massimiliano Allgeri’s side had raced to a 0-2 lead within half an hour courtesy of goals from Federico Bernardeschi and Gonzalo Higuain, before being pegged back by none other than Mattia Caldara – Juve’s €25m January signing who has been loaned back to Atalanta until the summer of 2018.

The young centre-back pounced on a rebound to net the 500th goal conceded by Gigi Buffon in a Juventus shirt. The legendary stopper let in his 501st in the second half when Bryan Cristante powered in a header.  

5. Voting With Their Seats

After much heated debate Barcelona played their controversially scheduled La Liga clash with Las Palmas behind closed doors on Sunday, 

The fixture – which league supremo (and Real Madrid fan) Javier Tebas refused to reschedule so as not to conflict with the Catalan independence vote – suddenly became ‘mes que’ a game, while the visitors to the Camp Nou were permitted to emblazon a Spanish flag on their shirts.

The eventual decision to play in front of an empty stadium came just 25 minutes before kick off leaving thousands of fans jeering outside. 

The club and police denied there were security concerns around the fixture, while club president Josep Maria Bartomeu claimed the decision was made as a protest against the scheduling.

Home-grown Catalan star Sergio Busquets opened the scoring in the eerie atmosphere, while Lionel Messi took his league tally to 11 with a brace to hand Barcelona a 3-0 win.

4. Heated Derby

Barça’s victory in front of 100,000 empty seats wasn’t the only odd piece of scheduling on match day seven in La Liga.

Tebas also caught flak for organising the Andalusian derby (between Sevilla and Malaga) to be played in the searing afternoon heat, rather than in the evening.

The game, which Sevilla won 2-0 with second half goals from Ever Banega and Luis Muriel, was halted in each half for a water break, while reports claimed some fans were overcome by the heat at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. 

3. Hassled Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim, the last undefeated team in Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues in 2016/17, lost their unbeaten status somewhat sooner this campaign with a 3-2 away defeat to Freiburg.

The unexpected victory is Freiburg’s first of the season. The visitors took the lead through Robin Hack early on, but manager Julian Naglesmann had his celebrations cut short with a quickfire double from the hosts.

Freiburg added a third late on in the second half, before an own goal gave Hoffenheim some unfulfilled hope at the death.

Meanwhile, Willy Sagnol’s first game in charge of Bayern Munich ended in disappointment, as the interim coach’s side were pegged back after going 0-2 up away in the German capital.

Former Chelsea man Salomon Kalou scored the equaliser to add to a difficult start for the Bundesliga champions, who are now five points off early pace setters Dortmund.

2. Fenerbahce See Red Again

After one of the most heated Istanbul derbies of all time against Besiktas last week (in which five players were sent to queue for an early bath), you might reasonably think Fenerbahce manager Aykut Kocaman would tell his players to calm it down just a tad in the next few fixtures.

However, Fenerbahce ended the 1-0 defeat to Akhisarspor with nine men (once again) as Alper Potuk and former Liverpool hard man Martin Skrtel picked up reds in the final ten minutes as the visitors chased the game.

Ex-Spurs duo Vincent Janssen and Roberto Soldado also picked up yellows to take the club’s card count for the season to 19 yellows and four reds in seven games.

1. Angers Management

While Fenerbahce are racking up quite the disciplinary record in the Turkish Super Lig this season, none of their sendings off have been quite as unusual as Marcelo’s dismissal in Lyon’s 3-3 draw with Angers in Ligue 1.

A goal fest in the Loire Valley caught international attention when the Brazilian defender had his yellow turned into a red for flicking the card out of the referee’s hand.

On repeat viewing it appears as though the action was unintentional, but the match official Mikael Lesage was apparently not in the mood for insubordination (deliberate or otherwise) and immediately reached for this red.

The moment appeared to change the game with Angers (who were 1-3 down at the time) fighting back for a point.