1- Barca to topple Real in Wednesday’s El Clasico:
Caught up with the action as Barcelona stuttered to a two-all draw with Valencia. Blagruana boss Ernesto Valverde underestimated the Black Breasts by leaving Jordi Alba on the bench, then made the mistake of substituting Nelson Semedo instead of Sergio Roberto.
The Catalans weren’t helped by Lionel Messi suffering a dead leg in the last 15 minutes.
Wednesday’s Copa Del Rey El Clasico should be settled by a fully fit Messi. Real Madrid may have torpedoed Alaves 3-0 but the fact 18-year-old Vinicius Junior is their best attacking player doesn’t portend glad returns from Camp Nou.
2- Higuain a step up from Morata, Giroud:
Football fans are a fickle lot. Gonzalo Higuain’s ineffectual Premier League debut in Chelsea’s 0-4 reverse had many a Blues fan condemn his acquisition.
The same fans were waxing lyrical about his exploits in the Londoners 5-0 whitewash of Huddersfield Town.
The Argentine’s superior awareness in and around the opposition box allowed him to flourish in partnership with Eden Hazard and Ngolo Kante.
Sunday’s trip to Etihad Stadium should be even more informing.
3- Harvey Barnes better than Jamie Vardy:
Was well and truly impressed by Leicester City’s Harvey Barnes in the Foxes’ 0-1 home reverse to Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Manchester United.
Just like James Maddison and Jamie Vardy before him, Barnes is making mashed potatoes of the step up from the Championship where he was on loan with West Bromwich Albion, to the Premiership.
If he gets an extended run in the team, he could with time eclipse Jamie Vardy to become Leicester City’s talisman. Barnes is as fast as Vardy, but with twice the football brain.
4- Valencia to give Celtic hard time:
After a difficult start to this campaign, Valencia boss Marcelino has his team playing at a level unseen at the Mestalla since Rafael Benitez led them to league titles in 2002 and 2004.
That Chadian behemoth Geoffrey Kondgobia is content with a bit part midfield role, is a measure of how well the Copa Del Rey semi-finalists have evolved since tumbling out of the Champions League. Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic are definitely bound to have it rough handling Valencia in next week’s Europa League showdown.
5- Juventus defense a shambles without Chellini and Bonucci:
Last week, serial Serie A titlists Juventus conceded six goals in two games to lose their aura of invincibility.
Veteran Ivorian forward Gervinho Kouassi’s two goal salvo in Saturday night’s 3-3 draw with struggling Parma was preceded by a 0-3 reverse to Atlanta Bergamo in the Coppa Italia.
Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chellini were all absent through injury. Daniel Rugani and De Scilio simply couldn’t cope with Gervinho and Atlanta’s Duvan Zapata.
6- Leaders running out of steam:
Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with West Ham United on Monday night was the seventh consecutive game in which title chasers in Europe’s top five leagues dropped points.
Liverpool had also drawn one-all with Leicester City mid-week. In Germany, pacesetters Borussia Dortmund were held to an identical scoreline by Eintracht Frankfurt whereas second placed Bayern Munich fell 1-3 at Bayer Leverkusen.
In Spain, Primera Liga leaders Barcelona were pegged to a two-all draw by Valencia whereas second placed Atletico Madrid fell 0-1 at Real Betis.