Columnists, Sports

The Mezzala: This week’s look around Europe

Connie Dai | DFP Staff

Moment of the Week

On Sept. 11, Real Madrid, a seemingly unstoppable side so far in the La Liga, faced off against Real Mallorca, a team that was the clear underdog. The home fans were shocked, however, when Mallorca’s Vedat Muriqi scored a header 35 minutes into the first half to take a 1-0 lead. With the Santiago Bernabéu crowd stunned, Federico Valverde picked up the ball in his own defensive third with just minutes left in the first half. The Uruguayan drove across nearly the full length of the field and powered the ball into the top left corner, finishing off a Puskás-worthy goal.

The goal sent Los Blancos into the halftime dressing room with some renewed confidence that ultimately saw them finish the game in the second half. The wing pair of Rodrygo and Vinícius Júnior came alive with three goal contributions between the two of them ending the game 4-1 in favor of Madrid.

Continental Spotlight

There were many notable moments in the Champions League last Wednesday. The first was at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona where Napoli and Liverpool faced off in group A. The match was instantly a nightmare for The Reds as a handball in the box led to a penalty goal within the first 5 minutes. The Gli Azzurri were able to triple their lead before the halftime break for a dominant 3-0 lead. The Reds competed in the second half, scoring a goal of their own and conceding just one, but the game would end in a disappointing 4-1 score line in favor of the home team. 

Many fans and media were quick to criticize the two Liverpool center-backs of Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez for their lackluster performances. Although the duo certainly did not perform, the true disappointment of the match was Trent Alexander-Arnold. Alexander-Arnold has an impressive resume as the 24-year-old is already considered one of the best wingbacks to step foot on a soccer pitch for his great vision and playmaking ability. While he did showcase some of these skills, his effort on defense was borderline disgraceful. 

One example was when Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia skipped past Alexander-Arnold on the left flank and slotted in his teammate, Giovanni Simeone, who was across the goal for an easy tap-in. After being beaten, Alexander-Arnold walked without a care in the world as his team was picked apart in humiliating fashion.

On a good day, Alexander-Arnold can be a world-class defender with amazing playmaking ability. However, during matches like these, one must bring up the question if the 24-year-old belongs in the back line and not further up the pitch.

Drama Around Europe

In the past week, many shocking events have occurred on and off the field in the professional European scene. 

First up is the sacking of Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel. Tuchel is leaving Stamford Bridge after just six games this season coming as a shock to many fans. Since his appointment in January 2021, Tuchel has been regarded as having a successful tenure, including the Champions League crown in his first year and two domestic cup finals last season. The news came shortly after Chelsea fell to Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 in the Champions League.

In Spain, during a league game between Barcelona and Cadiz, Jeremias Ledesma, the Cadiz goalkeeper, was seen rushing across the field with a defibrillator in the 82nd minute of the game. Unbeknownst to many at the time, a Cadiz fan was suffering from cardiac arrest in the stands, resulting in the game being suspended for nearly an hour. A statement was later released from Cadiz verifying that the fan in question was recovering in the hospital. 

The last piece of news comes from Turin, Italy, where a struggling Juventus, faced off against Salernitana, which was facing potential dissolvement last season. In the dying minutes of the game, with the score tied 2-2, Arkaduisz Milik headed in what seemed to be the winner for Juventus. In doing so, the Polish striker took off his shirt and was sent off after being displayed the red card. Shortly afterward, VAR disallowed the goal for offside, putting both sides into a frenzy. The referee then displayed his red card repeatedly until Juve manager Max Allegri and his player Juan Cuadrado were ejected along with Salernitana man Federico Fazio for their actions. 

Preview for the Upcoming Week

Premier League action continues after many fixtures were delayed due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II. 

Notable fixtures coming up include Manchester City versus Dortmund in the Champions League, Roma versus Atalanta and AC Milan versus Napoli in Serie A, and a Madrid Derby between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid. 

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