Liverpool, Man City look exhausted; super-sub Messi saves Barcelona; Kimmich injury an issue for Bayern

Liverpool and Man City showed their weaknesses; Arsenal defeated Aston Villa; Bayern Munich defeated Dortmund Borussia, but had an unwanted injury that could be fought back; and Barcelona was rescued by super submarine Lionel Messi.

It’s Monday and Gab Marcotti responds to last week’s football highlights.

Indent: Thoughts of Liverpool | Messi, the Super Submarine? | Fish fights, but Zhuve has bigger problems | Lazio’s COVID-19 tests | A real defense crisis | Man United’s inconsistency | Kimmich’s trauma hurts Bavaria | Does he fight for the title? | Atletico’s new view | Milan rescued by Ibra | Ziyech brings balance to Chelsea | Don’t sleep on Lester | Keene blossoms at PSG | Tale, Inter quortation | Collapse of the Arsenal | Leipzig’s Angelic Key | Holding Napoli

Maine City, Liverpool before you burn out in.

Over the past two seasons, Manchester City and Liverpool elite have defined Premier League football and, at least in the first half of Sunday, they have retained that legacy.

After missing key players in the back and midfield, Jurgen Klopp introduced the current 4-2-4 formation with the addition of Diogo Jot and the move to Mohamed Salah. In response, Pep Guardiola welcomed Gabriel Jesus in the starting line-up, showed his confidence in Ferran Torres and pushed Kevin De Bruyne a few minutes ahead in the race, almost like Klopp.

It reminds us that part of what makes Klopp and Guardiola the best in their field is the continuous adaptation and development of their football. Yes, they have established principles, and most of their work consists of letting their actors carry out their concepts and making them better every week. But within this framework there is the possibility to improvise and, if necessary, to propose another type of product.

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This improvisation made the first half of Sunday very interesting. The game was quite boring and was based on mistakes, accidents and luck. Liverpool lost a fine after a soft but clumsy call from Kyle Walker on Sadio Manet. Then City was fined for one of those naturally formed balloons.

Anyway, I appreciate the hand being away from the body when we run. I also felt that Joe Gomez slowed down when the ball hit him, and at this level you would expect a professional athlete to have enough control over his body to bring his hand close to his body, which Gomez was trying to do – it just wasn’t fast enough. The intention is no longer there, the players have to listen.

As for the balance of the city, part of me would like to believe that Gabriel Jesus led his inner Romario and took a brilliant turn. But I pass it on to Alan Shearer (and my own ESPN colleague and former attacker Ale Moreno), who assures me that what he did was a great stroke of luck.

But the game has more to offer, and for the first 45 minutes I find it fascinating that the city can just follow it. Then there was a pause, then a very clear and distinct drop, both in rhythm and in intention. It seems that both teams realized that the damage of defeat outweighed the benefits of victory, especially under conditions of fatigue and reduced vitality.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Herenstad and Liverpool had fun in Sunday’s 1-1 draw, but generally looked tired after so many games played in different leagues. Sean Botterill/Getty Pictures

The two leaders said the season was full of energy, especially due to the lack of suitable training camps and because of the madness of the Premier League, which does not allow five replacements, as is the case in Europe and in UEFA matches. (I personally play for five subwoofers – and we’ve already talked about that, no, they don’t necessarily prefer the big clubs – but the Guardiola’s actions tend to undermine his argument, as he’s only used his subwoofers twice in seven league games this season).

– Dawson: Man City, Liverpool has imperfections and fatigue
ratings: Gabriel Jesus met 7/10 Manchester City
– Ranking : Commander Henderson 8/10 to Liverpool

I guess it takes some getting used to: The teams are already running in pairs and soft tissue injuries are common. There’s no escape. Liverpool suffered another injury like that when Trent Alexander-Arnold fell in the second half. We’ll know more as soon as we scan him – he’ll clearly miss an international breakthrough against England – and although he may not have been essential to Liverpool’s success this season, a long layoff would have been a blow given the injuries he’s already suffered.

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Ale Moreno believes that leg fatigue had a major impact on the 1-1 draw of Manchester City with Liverpool.

Speaking of Liverpool, 4-2-4 has worked for a while, and you can see that for Takumi Minamino, Divok Origi and Xerdan Shakiri it may be a simpler system to set up, but a double midfielder is probably not viable in the long run. Jordan Henderson and Giorgio Viinaldum can only contribute their energy and endurance over a long period of time, while people like Curtis Jones, Thiago Alcantara and Nabi Keita have different qualities.

As far as the city is concerned, the table shows that it is six points behind with one game in progress. Of course they’re not where they want to be, but they play better. Reuben Diaz and Eimerick Laport seem to form a strong defensive partnership. The return of Jesus is great, and if we assume that he will be in great shape when he returns, Sergio Aguero will be even more so. But perhaps the biggest turnaround will come when Rahim Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden – three players who, for various reasons, were not at the height of the season – regain their playing spirit.

Super Sub Messi saves Barcelona

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Shaka Hislop commented on the departure of Lionel Messi from the bench, which will have a major impact on the 5-2 victory of Barcelona over Real Betis.

Ronald Coeman decided to put Lionel Messi on the couch against Betis on Saturday – whether it was to keep him cool or because he had a sore leg, we don’t know: Both versions were published in the media – before he dressed half-time. Whatever the reason, it was a golden opportunity to perform a very non-scientific two-part experiment.

– The reviews: Messi wins 9/10 to save Barcelona.

Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and others have joined Dan Thomas to bring you the latest news and discuss the most important plots. Flows to ESPN+ (USA only).

What we have learned against a powerful opponent like Betis is that without Messi, others take responsibility. Usman Dembele scored a great goal; Pedry was alert and diligent; Asu Fati was his usual sounding board. Antoine Grizman seemed brilliant and free, and he no longer had to worry about where Messi was going in his travels.

The downside of the medal was that defending Barça was confused and goalkeeper Mark-Andre-Ter-Stegen needed the Superman cape again. And although they had a lot of chances, the final left a lot to be desired, not in the least when Grizman blew up his chances.

Messi played 1-1 at half time against Fati, who suffered an injury that could keep him until February. Imperial number 10 didn’t even have to touch the ball when it was first put down: His brilliant dummy scored a Griezmann goal that brought the score to 2-1. He added two more goals – one in the first stage, the other in the opener of this season – and Barca won 5-2.

What have we learned? Nothing we didn’t know before. Defensively, this team is still confused. If anyone had to solve Dembele’s puzzle, he’d have a damn player. Grizzman’s not here yet. And, yes, it’s another team, a more mature team, with Messi on the field. If he can offer 45 minutes of this type each time he plays, Kuman may have to consider using them exclusively as a supersubstrate and extend his career by doubling the time. (Relax, I was joking…)

The fish is fighting, but Zhuva has bigger problems than.

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Gab Marcotti says that the approach of Juventus fell directly into the hands of Lazio in the 1-1 draw at Olympique.

Felipe Caicedo’s late equalizer against Juventus was a testament to Lazio’s courage and self-confidence, but it was also a happy place and a puppet of poor defense, as Joaquin Correa is a ghost between two opponents. But there will inevitably be a scapegoat for Zhuva: Paulo Daibala. He is the man who scared Cristiano Ronaldo half an hour at the end; he is the man who did little on the field and especially the man who gave the ball to the dying a few seconds before Lazio made the equalizer.

Read the latest news and reactions from ESPN’s main author Gabriele Marcotti.

Clearly this is a terrible time for Dybala, and no matter how painful it is, Andrea Pirlo is probably right to try to get out of this situation. At the end of last season, he was probably Juve’s main player, and his contract ends in June 2022. The club has a big decision to make and rightly wants to see more before they put the pen to paper.

What I find most disturbing for Juve is their performance on the field. During the previous marches it seemed that they tried (without much success) to reach Pirlo’s credo: control the ball, dominate space and dominate the territory. Opposite Lazio, on the other hand, the construction was painfully slow and laborious, and on the counter it seemed more comfortable for them. The shadow of Juventus last year.

Maybe it was a unique event, and that’s not what Pirlo wanted, and in the privacy of his dressing room he read them an act of rebellion. But what would happen if this was not the case and this approach was planned? Well, there’s no need to talk about growth or a change in philosophy. In the end it looks like an ugly version of Chew Mauricio Sarri, which in itself was an ugly version of Chew Max Allegri.

What happened to Lazio’s COVID-19 tests?

In the meantime, the Lazio region is the subject of two investigations – one by the football authorities and the other by the law enforcement authorities – because of the way in which they have been tested. The suspicion arose when some of their players – including Ciro Immobil and Lucas Leyva – tested positive in a test in the UEFA laboratory in Rome and negative in a test in the Lazio laboratory (which is in Lazio, ironically it was not in Rome but in Avellino, a few hundred kilometres away) and then tested positive again for the Champions League collision with Zenit in Saint Petersburg last week.

One of the statements made by the President of Lazio, Claudio Lotito, is that UEFA and Lazio have different thresholds for a positive test. I’m not a virologist – neither is Lotito, but it seems clear that there must be a uniform protocol and common standards for such a test. You can’t be positive one way and negative the other.

Lazio does not help his own team doctor, Ivo Pulcini, who has declared in the past that people who test positive but asymptomatic for KOVID-19 are not contagious.

Besides, Pulcini’s not a virologist either. Of course he is entitled to medical advice, but if he wants to become a club doctor, he is primarily responsible for the rules and protocols for the safety of the players. And they’re pretty clear.

Real Madrid defensive crisis

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Ale Moreno blames Rafael Varan after the 4-1 defeat of Real Madrid in Valencia.

If you take the initiative and then lose 4-1 to Valencia, a team that has reached a point since September and during the summer has been almost completely destroyed by the sale of players, you will probably be criticized. Zinedine Zidane knows that. I hope he also knows that three missed penalties – the first time in history that Real Madrid missed three in a match – are no excuse because they were all legal. (In fact, Sergio Ramos’ handball was so shameless and so useless that if there was something like a two-headed penalty in the rules of the game, you would consider using it) He also knows that the absence of Eden Hazard and Casemiro in COVID is not an extenuating circumstance.

Much has been done for Zidane’s rotation and his search for an effective attack plan, and although some of his decisions didn’t pay off (Vinisey was particularly bad, and Marco Asensio also had a lot of trouble), he can only be blamed for trying to give Tony Croos a day off. But what’s really amazing is what happened in the back.

Apart from Tibo Courtois, it was just as bad a performance from the Madrid rearguard as we’ve seen lately. Lucas Vasquez – that famous, not a natural defender – imposed a pointless punishment and was regularly beaten. Rafael Varane was guilty of talking about his goal and, more worryingly, he was out of position for most of the race. Although, to be honest, given that it was one of those matches where Ramos is around, physically and mentally – look at his handball playing again, he deserves a second mention – it’s hard to know where Varana should have been.

As for Marcelo, the brutal statistics tell us everything: Since the return of Zidane, Real has lost nine games to Marcelo at the beginning of the 11th and zero when he was away.

Zidane doesn’t get out of this mess by changing personnel (except to bring back Ferlanda Mendi for Marcelo). He’ll have to practice to get out and figure out how to make his whole defense work again.

Man United’s victory over Everton does not hide the consistency problems of.

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Gab Marcotti responded to the arguments of Solskier, Clopp and Guardiola for 5 replacements in the Premier League.

The excellent performance of Bruno Fernandez led Manchester United to a 3-1 victory over Everton and ensured that the defeats against Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir would not last long. But Ole Gunnar Solsker’s place as manager is still on fire and will remain so, because he is the manager of Manchester United, and if your name is not Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson, he will never really calm down.

Also because, frankly, the question is the same. United’s indicators remain a model of inconsistency. Sometimes they’re impressive. Sometimes they’re terrible. Sometimes they win by playing badly because they have the best elements. Sometimes (actually not often) they throw points and play well because they are unlucky. Part of the director’s task is to ensure consistency of work and results, which Solskhar has not yet done.

Solskyar also complained extensively about the fact that after the away game of the Champions League in Turkey on Saturday, United would start lunch on Wednesday. Klopp shares these thoughts. Why couldn’t they play on Sunday or at least later on Saturday?

Nice glasses, all of them, but maybe Solskjaer and Klopp can get their hands on Ed Woodward and Mike Gordon respectively. They represent their clubs in the Premier League. The Premier League maximizes the funding of television as much as possible. In part, this means that the biggest jokes of this period are the stations that pay the fees. Finally, they have to provide the advertisers and the sponsors (and their supervisors) with evaluations.

I’m sure the broadcasters will have no problem changing things to get a discount on the fee they pay; the question is whether the clubs will agree. I don’t think so.

Violation of Kimmich, Bavaria has a choice

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Jürgen Klinsmann says that Dortmund has done enough to at least pull Bavaria, they were just not clinical in the last third.

Here I wrote about Bavaria’s 3-2 victory over Borussia Dortmund, but a big postscript of the race is clearly the injury of Joshua Kimmich.

The first signs indicate that he needs surgery and that he is eight to twelve weeks short. Besides Robert Lewandowski, Kimmich is as indispensable as he was in Bavaria, and his injury shows once again the importance of the deadline for shopping, simply by adding bodies. Bayern can handle most of their opponents thanks to a combination of Leon Goretzky and Corentin Tolisso, but Kimmich has no steps or creativity; in some races all that will change.

– Marcotti: Bavaria tested by Dortmund but Bundesliga cement superiority

In general, Hansi Flick is expected to consider one of the following two options. One of them places David Alabou in midfield. He is an exceptional son-in-law and has played there in his career, as well as in the Austrian national team. But that leaves you with short hands, at least for a while, with Niklas Sulet, Alfonso Davis and Benjamin Pavard. The other finds out what the marker rock is capable of. He played the role of Kimmich at Espanyol, where he was a good debutant in the last two campaigns, but this year he only played a minute in the Bundesliga.

Tottenham is exactly where they want to be in the race for thetitle.

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Steve Nichol explains why Tottenham can still afford to reach Maine City or Liverpool.

Don’t look now, but Tottenham Hotspur’s Jose Mourinho is second after his 1-0 victory over West Brom. It cost Harry Kane’s late goal – his 150th in the division one – but the Spurs could do better than an opponent who didn’t let them play on the counter-attack, but rather grabbed the box and showed the physical condition when needed.

The game was more open than you might think and – despite the relatively quiet performance of Gareth Bale and Heung Min Song – it proved enough that Tottenham is more multi-dimensional than you sometimes think. In this wild season, marked by COVID, the possibility of riding a few superstars while remaining compact and giving up very little from behind (the Spurs have not lost in the Championship since the first day) could be the way to win. Especially with a wise old man at the helm.

New type of athletics

Atletico Madrid beat Cadiz 4-0, which is more important in two respects. In the beginning their opponents can get a new promotion, but they are also eliminated after five games without a loss. Then Atletico took control of the game, created possibilities and dominated possession. It’s not really the famous Jolismo Diego Simeone, is it?

Maybe it’s as simple as the fact that with this version of 33-year-old Luis Suarez, you can’t play at the counter. And if you pay him a huge salary, you might as well have the ball in your hands and keep the boys next to him, which Joao Felix and Marcos Llorente (and, after his arrival, Angel Correa) did very well.

In any case, they have scored 17 goals in seven league games. Last year, after seven games, they scored seven goals. And indeed, they all have 17. It doesn’t score until you’re 17.

Milan gives a big chance against Verona at

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Gab Marcotti blamed Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the lack of a penalty in the draw between Milan and Hellas Verona.

Milan takes a two-point lead over the top of Series A – much better than the most optimistic predictions – but they know it can be more. Zlatan Ibrahimovic needed a trauma leveller to share his goal with Verona after missing a penalty. (It was the third time in a row, and he was preceded by an exceptional goalkeeper, Marco Silvestri, who pushed him until he hit the point).

Ibrahimovic is a practical lightning rod in good times and bad, but his presence should not hide the fact that Milan had enough weapons to win the match, even against the undervalued side of Verona. If they get rid of Ibrahimovich completely, they will be a much better side. He’ll be the icing on the cake.

Ziyech brings balance to Chelsea

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Ian Age Fjortoft believes Chelsea will only be successful if Frank Lampard manages to balance midfield.

Frank Lampard described Chelsea’s 4-1 victory over Sheffield United as the best result of the season. Of course it was their biggest, outside the rating line, and a large part of the loan would go to Hakim Ziyech.

The former Ajax striker, who was injured in the preseason, has improved in quality and unpredictability since his arrival. How do we know that if it really was Chelsea’s best performance, it would have been without Christian Pulishich (injured) and Kai Havertz (quarantined after a positive COVID test)? Maybe this side so far is just more balanced without him and with a real center like Tammy Abraham.

Havertz is perhaps the most natural player in this team, but he is a diamond in the rough that has not yet found his ideal place or role in this team. Pulisik shares his best position with Timo Werner, and if Tsieh is at this level, he hardly plays. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. You assume that Lampard will figure out how to place Havertz and Pulisik as soon as they return, but this reminds us that nothing escapes the value of balance and experience.

Lester, Rogers, reprinted above

I don’t know if Lester City will be at the top of the Premier League in May (I guess not), but I do know that despite some injuries (Kaglar Soyunka, Timothy Castañ, Wilfred Ndidi) that forced Brendan Rogers to play against the Wolves in the starting eleven, against a teenager (Luke Thomas) and a guy (almost) old enough to be his father (Christian Fuchs).

Sunday’s 1-0 victory makes six straight victories in all leagues for the Foxes – yes, they also have the extra burden of the Europa League – and it shows the skill of Rogers. He won the tactical battle against Volkov, eager for supplies for the front lines, and after the appearance of Adam Traore in the last half hour, he devised an individual treatment to tackle his characteristic races.

Rogers has made mistakes in the past, especially off the track, but when it comes to training on his own, he is at the level of the best in the Premier League. And when he’s learned from his past mistakes, he’ll only get better.

Keane finds the form on MTP.

Without Neimar and Cilian Mbappe (and also without Mauro Icardi) the Paris St. Louis was the only place in the world where a concert took place. Germain defeated the famous Rennes injury (3-0). It was Moise Keene who broke the ice with his fifth goal in five games before former head Angel Di Maria scored two more goals.

Keane had a few fake twilights when he was young. There is a certain irony in the fact that he seems to find the peace and environment he needs to grow and mature at PSG, a club that so often resembles a craft corner and where, at least in the media, the sports director (Leonardo) and coach (Thomas Tuchel) are constantly the subject of controversial discussions.

Cont blames the players for the extra points gained

This weekend Inter lost two more points after dominating most of the game and Antonio Conte – even more problems. As for the 1-1 tie with Atalanta, he said he couldn’t give his players much advice and they had to make the right decisions on the pitch in the end.

Some have seen Conte throw his players under the bus (it wouldn’t be the first time). Instead, I saw the team make individual mistakes – in offense and of course in defense, which meant that victories became a draw and defeated a tie. Is there such a thing as overtraining? Sometimes some of your players lose the ability to think for themselves if you give such accurate and continuous instructions.

The approach of Arsenaldid not match that of Villain Aston.

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Steve Nichol visits Arsenal after the modest 3-0 loss of Aston Villa in the Emirates.

After the 3-0 defeat of Aston Villa, Michael Arteta said it was the Gunners’ worst performance of the season and his fault. I think there’s enough guilt for everyone, but I’m not really gonna argue.

The strange thing is that against a team like Dean Smith’s Villa, who like to exert good pressure and resist, it was decided to play the same XI as against Manchester United with Thomas Parti and Mohamed Eleni in midfield. As we saw last week, it works well against teams that play in a certain way, focused on ball possession, as United did (or tried to do) against Arsenal. It doesn’t work as well if you have to try to play with the party and Elenia through the opposition press. The game required extra passes in midfield and Dani Ceballos only appeared at halftime (and probably because of the party injury).

A poor performance from the top three, a couple of misses in the back row and an impressive performance from Jack Grilish and Ross Barkley – all of which would have been a bit too good – and there was no turning back.

Angelino key for Leipzig

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Angelino scored a great free kick 3-0 against RB Leipzig from Freiburg. Follow the Bundesliga on ESPN+.

RB Leipzig lost 3-0 to Freiburg and remains two points behind Bavaria at the top of the Bundesliga. It hasn’t been as dominant as it appears on the scoreboard, but Freiburg is still a clumsy opponent. But the third goal was as brilliant a free kick as you’ll probably see.

Angelino’s ballistic skills were spectacular, but the importance of the Spaniard in Julian Nagelsman’s camp continues to grow. At this moment he can score at least five goals, and when you look at the revolving door of Manchester City from left to right, you wonder if he can stay with Etihad when the loan is finished.

The blow against him is that he’s not a good defender and that he’s more of a natural outsider. Okay. Okay. Okay, okay. But not like Joao Cancelo or Alexander Zinchenko (let’s name but two who played for Pep Guardiola) is the second arrival of Bobby Moore.

Naples, go on, but Gattuso is not satisfied.

Napoli dominated the first 70 minutes of the match against Bologna. Victor Osimchen and Hirving Chucky Lozano stole the show. It was a classic where they could score three or four points at half time, but in the end they won because Bologna had missed a clear chance of a draw in the final minutes.

Another coach would have enjoyed his team’s game and would have told us how to bury his chances. Not Gennaro Gattuso. He was more ruthless than usual about the possibility he gave up. The reality is that this team in Naples was not built to remain silent. However, if they stick to what they do right by creating at the end of the attack, they will go far.

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