Juve stumbled over the weekend and Napoli took full advantage of this mishap. But, in other leagues across Europe, there were plenty of ups and down.
Claudio Ranieri and Mario Balotelli continued to impress, while others largely disappointed.
With the international break upon us, let’s salivate what we can.. and maybe crank FIFA 18 (or PES whichever you prefer) in the meantime.
Star: Claudio Ranieri (Nantes – Ligue 1)
Once again the Tinkerman is earning plaudits for his admirable work with underdog sides.
This season, it seems no different as the former Premier League winning coach is seemingly performing another miracle, this time with Ligue 1 side Nantes. The club’s recent form of 5 wins and a respectable draw with Lyon are drawing parallels to his work with Leicester City. Implementing similar tactics, the team grind out the wins remaining steadfast in defence and utilising the counter-attack productively.
Although the lack of worldwide exposure will not see the same level of fanfare, Ranieri will still gain plenty of credit if he can pull off another miracle. Genius.
Brilliant but frustrated: Mario Balotelli (Nice – Ligue 1)
Mario Balotelli has proven his doubters wrong once again, scoring in Nice’s 2-4 loss to Marseille. However, he was a frustrated figure as Nice were unable to compete evenly with Rudi Garcia’s side.
Balotelli now has 5 goals in Ligue 1 with a respectable 69% of his shots on target. Still, it looks like he is targeting a return to the Azzurri, and he’d be a welcome figure over the likes of Eder.
Unstoppable: Simone Zaza (Valencia – La Liga)
It seems no one can stop Zaza or Valencia.
Both are in rich veins of form as they managed to win 3-2 win over Bilbao. Zaza opened the scoring after some fantastic work from Jose Gaya who cut the ball back to the Italian who lashed a powerful shot into the middle of the net. He is now second in La Liga’s top scorer list, with a 67% of his shots being on target.
Valencia sits third and are eyeing off Real and Madrid and Barcelona respectively.
Overshadowed: Marco Verratti (PSG- Ligue 1)
PSG romped Bordeaux 6-2 and the game was more about Neymar and Cavani’s utter domination up front than anything else.
The Parsians had 59% possession and converted 6 of their 9 shots on target. As a result, many of the goals came from the creativity of Neymar and Draxler with Verratti sitting in the hole pulling the strings. He rarely stood out, but conversely, rarely put a foot wrong as his work in front of defence allowed the attack to do their thing. Reliable.
Building Game time: Roberto Soriano (Villarreal – La Liga)
Deserves a mention as the midfielder is slowly building up fitness and crucially minutes on the park. Villareal won comfortably at home against Eibar 3-0, with Soriano brought on at the 73rd minute to help grind out the result.
Benched: Manolo Gabbiadini (Southampton – EPL)
It’s confusing when you see Shane Long starting over Austin/Gabbiadini.
Long is a hard worker and runner but is too inconsistent, along with the ability to score spectacular goals but miss sitters and other chances a decent striker would put away. Hence, why placing two strikers who have goal scoring pedigree on the bench is even more confusing.
Gabbiadini eventually came on alongside Austin, but neither could help Southampton get the draw.
Unhappy: Antonio Conte (Chelsea – EPL)
A loss to your direct rivals would sting, but the loss of your main striker for 4 weeks would sting even more. Even more annoying if you just transferred him into your FPL team due to Aguero’s injury!
Conte may be regretting his actions against Costa even more now given his only other striker is Michy Batshuayi who is clearly not trusted to lead the line despite his ability to score crucial goals.
Interesting to see how he copes with this loss.