It is with a heavy heart that 90min must report, there has been a murder. A brutal butchering took place in the Netherlands on Saturday afternoon, and one that simply cannot be ignored.
Dutch champions Ajax went to the stomping ground of fellow Eredivisie outfit VVV-Venlo, battered them beyond reason, and then buried them in their own back garden. The visitors won 13-0.
Thirteen. One more than 12, and one less than 14. 13. Unlucky for some, eh VVV-Venlo?
Ajax got off to a good start on Saturday, taking the lead on 12 minutes. “Don’t worry lads, we’re still in this one!” That minor setback for the hosts was doubled five minutes later, when Lassina Traore got in on the act.
“Okay, no need to panic, 2-0 is a dangerous lead, I’ve heard.”
The game was put to bed just after the half-hour mark thanks to Traore, and Dusan Tadic made it four just before the stroke of half-time. Imagine that team talk.
“Right lads, it’s damage limitation time, okay? Stay focused, no silly tackles, no trying to be a hero. Just go out there, stay solid, and maybe even try to win the second half. It’s hugely important that we don’t lose our heads.”
Seven minutes later, VVV-Venlo were down to ten men, following a straight red card for Christiaan Kum. In fairness Christiaan, I’d have probably done the exact same thing, mate.
Now a man light, it was always going to be tough.
“Time to stick together, boys!”
Instead, they fell apart. Second half goals from *huge intake of breath* Traore, Antony, Jurgen Ekkelenkamp, Daley Blind, Traore again, Huntelaar X2, Lisandro Martinez and Traore AGAIN gave Ajax an embarrassing victory by a 13 goal margin, sending their goal difference to +21 after only six matches.
As for our plucky heroes of this story, VVV-Venlo still sit comfortably in tenth place in the table, although their -13 goal difference may put them at a disadvantage in the latter stages of the season…
Real Madrid secured a 3-1 victory over Barcelona in El Clasico with a dominant performance on Saturday afternoon.
A frenetic start to the contest saw goals arrive at both ends as Ansu Fati’s smart tap-in cancelled out Federico Valverde’s opener.
Chances continued to arrive at both ends but Neto and Thibaut Courtois denied Karim Benzema and Lionel Messi respectively in what was an enthralling opening 45 minutes of action.
The hosts enjoyed a bright start to the second period before Real started to get a foothold in proceedings once more. The visitors then earned a penalty which was tucked away by Sergio Ramos before substitute Luka Modric sealed the deal in the closing stages with a fine individual effort.
Let’s get into some player ratings from Saturday’s Clasico.
Neto (GK) – 6/10 – Made a number of good saves but his error led to Real’s third.
Sergino Dest (RB) – 8/10 – Impressed as he became the first American to appear in a Clasico. Two superb defensive sequences in the opening period encapsulated his confident showing.
Gerard Pique (CB) – 7/10 – Caught out of position for Real’s first but improved from that moment on. Refused to be befuddled by Benzema dropping into midfield during a positionally adept display from the veteran Spaniard. Clement Lenglet (CB) – 7/10 – A shame his shirt-pull was penalised by VAR because it ruined a fine display. Covered Real’s in-behind threat diligently and was typically elegant and progressive in possession. A calming influence.
Jordi Alba (LB) – 7/10 – Barça’s outlet was a constant menace on his return. Well-timed run and cross set-up Fati’s equaliser. Fatigued as the contest wore on but an impressive performance nonetheless.
Sergio Busquets (DM) – 4/10 – Uncharacteristically naive in possession with Real using him as a trigger to press. Failed to track Valverde for the game’s opener. Game passed him by somewhat.
Frenkie de Jong (DM) – 5/10 – Struggled to impose himself against an aggressive Real Madrid midfield.
Pedri (RM) – 5/10 – Craftily took up positions between the lines as he often drifted in from the right but the 17-year-old looked pretty overwhelmed in the Clasico before his substitution.
Philippe Coutinho (AM) – 5/10 – The Brazilian’s enjoyed a bright start to the season on his return to the club but was poor on Saturday. Just way too wasteful in possession.
Ansu Fati (LM) – 7/10 – Early strike meant he became the youngest Clasico scorer in history. Typically intelligent with his movement but was quiet following the goal.
Lionel Messi (CF) – 7/10 – Incredibly bright, especially out of possession where he was often the man to kick-start Koeman’s counter-press. Fluid interchanges with front four meant he functioned more as a number ten and had enjoyed some mesmeric sequences in possession.
Antoine Griezmann – 5/10
Francisco Trincao – 5/10
Ousmane Dembele – 5/10
Martin Braithwaite – N/A
Thibaut Courtois (GK) – 6/10 – Produced a fantastic save to deny Messi at the near post in the first half. Was rarely tested in the second.
Nacho Fernandez (RB) – 6/10 – Plenty of hustle prior to his early substitution. Booked for a cynical foul on Coutinho but prevented a dangerous Barça transition with a tremendous intervention.
Sergio Ramos (CB) – 8/10 – Undeniably stabilised the Real defence following their horror-show in the week. Won and scored a penalty to give Real a 2-1 lead. The massive challenge to deny Messi in stoppage time would’ve been satisfying.
Raphael Varane (CB) – 7/10 – The Frenchman’s form has come under the microscope ever since his disasterclass at the Etihad in August but he was assured in the Clasico.
Ferland Mendy (LB) – 7/10 – Much has been made of the Frenchman’s attacking capacity since his move to the Spanish capital but his defensive nous was laid bare on Saturday afternoon. Coped with Barcelona’s tame threat down the right with ease.
Casemiro (DM) – 8/10 – The Brazilian often took up higher positions on the pitch which seemed to catch the hosts’ midfield off guard. Sloppy on occasions but typically immense out of possession.
Federico Valverde (CM) – 9/10 – Dynamism and composure saw him open the scoring after four minutes before he embarked on a dominant display. Made recoveries all over the field, won the majority of his duels and proved efficient in possession. Runs from midfield caused the Barça centre-backs serious issues. Superb.
Toni Kroos (CM) – 7/10 – Perhaps the least influential out of Real’s impressive midfield but the German was his typical controlling self in the second phase. Pressed effectively as well.
Marco Asensio (RW) – 6/10 – A quiet afternoon in possession. Also tasked with the difficult job of tracking the marauding Alba; a role he performed admirably following Fati’s goal.
Karim Benzema (ST) – 6/10 – Crafty movement distorted the Barca backline which led to Real’s first as he fed through a surging Valverde. Link-up and first-touch play was superb throughout as he dropped very deep at times to receive possession but wasteful in front of goal.
Vinicius Junior (LW) – 5/10 – Combined nicely at times with Benzema and looked a threat early before Dest started to get the better of the Brazilian. Decision-making and execution poor in the final third.
Crystal Palace moved up to fifth in the Premier League with a 2-1 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage in the Premier League on Saturday.
The hosts actually started the contest the brighter of the two, but Jairo Riedewald put Palace ahead on eight minutes. Running through the centre, he very cooly slotted home into the bottom corner from inside the area.
The Cottagers continued to search for an equaliser and Ademola Lookman went on to hit the post on two separate occasions in the first half, while Aleksandar Mitrovic also wasted a glorious opportunity from the rebound of Lookman’s second effort. Michy Batshuayi thought he had put Palace 2-0 up just before the half hour mark, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
The Eagles did double their lead 20 minutes into the second half through Wilfried Zaha, the forward simply tapping in at the back post. With just two minutes remaining, substitute Aboubakar Kamara saw red for a clumsy and reckless challenge on Ebere Eze, meaning the hosts saw out the remainder of the game with ten men.
Scott Parker’s men did pull one back in the final seconds through a stunning Tom Cairney strike, but it came too late for the Cottagers.
Let’s get into some player ratings, shall we?
Alphonse Areola (GK) – 6/10 – Made a few crucial stops to deny Palace on the counter-attack. No clean sheet for him once again, but another strong showing nonetheless.
Ola Aina (RB) – 6/10 – Was caught out a few times at the back, but looked a threat going forward. Supported attacks well and provided width down the right, linking up well with his teammates.
Tosin Adarabioyo (CB) – 5/10 – Adarabioyo was unable to help Fulham keep a much-needed clean sheet, but is beginning to establish himself as a key figure at the back for the Cottagers.
Tim Ream (CB) – 4/10 – Was exposed by the pace of Zaha throughout, never knowing when to get tight and when to drop off. A tough afternoon against Palace’s forwards.
Antonee Robinson (LB) – 5/10 – Keeping Joe Bryan out of the side, Robinson put in another assured display offensively and defensively.
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (CM) – 6/10 – Another powerful and dominant display in the centre of the park from Anguissa, picking up the ball from deep and driving forward. Also knew when to keep it simple and keep his side ticking over.
Mario Lemina (CM) – 3/10 – If we’re being completely honest, Lemina was hardly noticeable in the first half. The game often simply passed him by without showing some of the quality which he possesses.
Tom Cairney (CM) – 4/10 – Cairney opts for the simple or easy pass far too often, he must take more risks. The midfielder has the quality to unlock a defence, but he wasn’t adventurous in any way against Palace…except that outrageous strike in the final seconds.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (RW) – 4/10 – Starting out on the right, Loftus-Cheek had to be patient at points, but struggled to find pockets of space. The position didn’t suit him.
Ademola Lookman (LW) – 7/10 – Saw two efforts hit the post and generally, looked a real threat whenever he received the ball. An excellent signing by Fulham.
Aleksandar Mitrovic (ST) – 3/10 – Another frustrating afternoon for Mitrovic. Missed a clear goalscoring opportunity in the first half and couldn’t impose himself.
Aboubakar Kamara – 2/10
Bobby Decordova-Reid – 4/10
Harrison Reed – N/A
Vicente Guaita (GK) – 6/10 – Made a few impressive saves and had to remain vigilant as Fulham increased the pressure in the first half.
Nathaniel Clyne (RB) – 4/10 – Making his first start since re-joining the Eagles, Clyne endured a tough afternoon against the dangerous Lookman.
Scott Dann (CB) – 6/10 – Dealt with the threat of Mitrovic well on the whole and was generally an authoritative figure at the back. Dann was constantly discussing and barking out orders to his fellow defenders.
Cheikhou Kouyaté (CB) – 6/10 – Like Dann, Kouyate didn’t let Mitrovic bully him and was constantly harrying and forcing mistakes from his opponents. A strong showing.
Tyrick Mitchell (LB) – 5/10 – Another encouraging performance from Mitchell, although he did suffer from a few lapses in concentration.
Andros Townsend (RM) – 6/10 – Was typically hard working down the right, getting back to support Clyne as well as breaking forward at speed on the counter. Wasn’t involved a great deal, but still showed his quality with his pass in the lead up to Palace’s second goal.
Luka Milivojević (CM) – 6/10 – Composed in his work, the midfielder kept his side ticking over nicely. Not the most glamorous performance, but an effective one.
Jaïro Riedewald (CM) – 6/10 – A strong showing in the centre of the park from Riedewald. As well as protecting his defence when out of possession, he showed great desire to get forward and pose a threat, like he did for the opener.
Jeffrey Schlupp (LM) – 4/10 – A quiet afternoon for Schlupp, with not many attacks going down his side on the left. Was eventually off and replaced by Ebere Eze.
Wilfried Zaha (FW) – 8/10 – Zaha was the best player on the pitch. Picking up clever positions, Fulham weren’t sure how to deal with him and who should be picking him up. Continued to drive at the hosts’ defence all afternoon, and looked a threat time and time again.
Michy Batshuayi (FW) – 4/10 – Was clearly offside for his effort which was ruled out, but didn’t need to be. Lacked the same kind of movement as his strike partner.
Barcelona wonderkid Ansu Fati has become the youngest player ever to score in El Clasico following his early strike against Real Madrid on Saturday.
Since breaking into the Barça first-team setup last season, Fati has gone on to become one of the club’s most influential players.
The youngster notched eight goals in 33 appearances in his maiden season in senior football, and his start to the 2020/21 campaign has offered cause for optimism at a club enduring a turbulent time both on and off the pitch.
The Spaniard’s eighth-minute strike against fierce rivals Madrid saw him become the youngest ever player to score in El Clasico (17 years and 356 days). The goal saw him surpass the previous record set by Los Blancos legend and fellow countryman Raul, who was 18 years and 95 days old when he first notched against Barcelona in September 1995.
The goal puts Fati well on his way to bettering last season’s goal tally of eight, with the youngster already on five for the campaign with just six competitive games played.
Newly-appointed Barça boss Ronald Koeman will be delighted with the early-season form of the 17-year-old as he embarks on a period of transition at the club. The Blaugrana hierarchy made no secret of their desire to offload some of their ageing stalwarts in the summer in a bid to freshen up the squad.
Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu listed just seven senior players who weren’t for sale during the transfer window – Lionel Messi, Marc-André ter Stegen, Clément Lenglet, Frenkie de Jong, Nelson Semedo, Ousmane Dembélé and Antoine Griezmann – with a whole host of high-earners including Luis Suárez, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal heading for pastures new.
Despite not mentioning Fati when listing players unavailable for sale, Bartomeu went on to clarify that he was ‘non-transferable’ and that he would be central to the club’s plans for years to come.
Robert Lewandowski hit a hat-trick as Bayern Munich returned to the Bundesliga summit with an emphatic 5-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
Lewandowski opened the scoring inside the first ten minutes, picking out the bottom corner from close range, and doubled Bayern’s advantage shortly after with a header from a Joshua Kimmich corner.
The Poland striker completed his hat-trick on the hour mark, collecting Douglas Costa’s through ball and calmly slotting home.
Leroy Sane added a fourth for Bayern with a stunning strike from distance and fellow substitute Jamal Musiala wrapped up the win in injury time with his maiden first team goal, guiding the ball home from inside the six yard box.
Let’s get into some player ratings.
Manuel Neuer (GK) – 6/10 – Barely had a save to make in a dominant performance from Bayern, before being forced to stretch and clear Sarr’s header off the line with eight minutes remaining.
Bouna Sarr (RB) – 7/10 – Making his Bundesliga debut for Bayern, looked comfortable defensively and going forward. Fired well over with an ambitious effort from range in the second half, and was fortunate to not score an own goal with a poor attempted header back to Neuer.
Jerome Boateng (CB) – 7/10 – Composed on the ball and intelligent defensively – mopped up well in the first half when a potentially dangerous Frankfurt counter attack looked on.
David Alaba (CB) – 7/10 –Made a strong block in the early stages of the first half but was otherwise untroubled defensively.
Alphonso Davies (LB) – N/A – Went over on his ankle inside the first two minutes and hobbled off.
Joshua Kimmich (CM) – 8/10 – Outrageously efficient in possession and provided an assist from a corner for Bayern’s second.
Leon Goretzka (CM) – 7/10 – Shielded the back four effectively and rarely gave the ball away. Slightly quieter than his midfield partner Kimmich. Should have scored as the clock ticked down after racing clean through, but his dinked attempt was parried away. Thomas Muller (CM) – 7/10 – Combined well with Coman in the buildup to Lewandowski’s opener. Was replaced with 20 minutes remaining.
Kingsley Coman (FW) – 8/10 – Linked up well with Muller before picking out Lewandowski for Bayern’s opener, and his clever interplay was a constant all afternoon. Had a well struck effort from range tipped just over in the second half.
Robert Lewandowski (ST) – 9/10 – Opened the scoring after nine minutes, instinctively lashing the ball into the corner from inside the penalty area. Doubled his side’s advantage with a towering header and completed his hat-trick with a cool finish from close range.
Douglas Costa (FW) – 8/10 – Making his first Bundesliga start following his return to the club, produced a particularly magical piece of skill and close control in the second half to jink his way past a selection of Frankfurt midfielders. Set up Bayern’s third with an inch perfect pass.
Lucas Hernandez – 7/10
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – 6/10
Leroy Sane – 8/10
Javi Martínez – 6/10
Jamal Musiala – 7/10