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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 October 2018

Struggles of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid continue: European club football talking points

Check out Ian Hawkey's talking points as players take a break from their club commitments in order to represent their countries

Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer, Niklas Suele, Thiago and David Alaba, from left, react after Monchengladbach scored their second goal. AP Photo
Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer, Niklas Suele, Thiago and David Alaba, from left, react after Monchengladbach scored their second goal. AP Photo

Bayern blank in Bundesliga goalfests

The Bundesliga’s nine top-flight fixtures over the weekend featured 25 goals.

Six cascaded into Leipzig, where RB stuck their half a dozen past Nuremberg without reply. There were seven goals at Borussia Dortmund, where after the 80th minute of a ding-dong contest the home side took the lead for the first time, lost that lead and regained it for a 4-3 win, including a Paco Alcacer hat-trick.

But the real focus of attention is that, in this goalfest, Bayern Munich contributed nothing at all. Far, far worse, they found themselves at the blank end of a heavy scoreline, and while playing at home.

Borussia Monchengladbach’s 3-0 win in Bavaria brought to four the sequence of games that Bayern, German champions for the past six seasons, have gone without victory. They struggled to hold Ajax to a draw in the Uefa Champions League last week, and have slipped to sixth in the table, four points shy of leaders Dortmund.

For manager Niko Kovac, appointed in the summer to follow the vastly experienced and now retired Jupp Heynckes, the next 10 days will be spent anxiously working out what has happened to Bayern’s swagger - with most of his fit players away on international duty.

“The problem is not the finishing,” Bayern’s versatile full-back Joshua Kimmich remarked, “but that we’re not creating the chances up front.”

Kimmich added he hoped that for the several Germany players at Bayern, the coming week or so spent with the national team “might give us time to work on our self-belief".

It sounded a dubious cure. Only a few weeks ago, that very Germany were bundled out of a World Cup at the first stage for the first time in 80 years.

Madrid muted

The exit of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid is one of the reasons for the Spanish club's recent decline in fortunes. Reuters
The exit of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid is one of the reasons for the Spanish club's recent decline in fortunes. Reuters

At least Bayern can console themselves that a sudden decline in attacking potency seems to be viral.

Witness Real Madrid, now without a goal for six hours and 49 minutes of activity. The 1-0 defeat by Alaves followed the loss by the same scoreline at CSKA Moscow in midweek, the goalless draw at home in the derby against Atletico Madrid and the thrashing, 3-0, by Sevilla, the club who now lead the Primera Liga.

Madrid’s last goal was Marco Asensio’s winner in the 1-0 over Espanyol in the first half of Matchday 5 of the eight in the Spanish league season so far. Here is one footnote to that barren sequence. Madrid’s last five matches have brought one goal; Cristiano Ronaldo’s last five Serie A matches have produced four Ronaldo goals and four Ronaldo assists for his new club, Juventus.

Madrid are missing a few things right now, but it is hard to resist the conclusion that their all-time leading goalscorer, sold to Juventus in July, is one of them.

Poles ahead

Krzysztof Piatek has been in goalscoring form ever since he arrived in Genoa. Getty Images
Krzysztof Piatek has been in goalscoring form ever since he arrived in Genoa. Getty Images

One of these days, Genoa’s Krzysztof Piatek will go a full 90 minutes without scoring. His astonishing record, since making his Serie A debut for Genoa after his summer transfer from Cracovia in his native Poland, goes on and on.

It did not take long, at home to Parma, to tick off a seventh successive scoring game. He hit his ninth of the season, in matchday seven, after six minutes against Parma.

He ended up on the losing side, as it happened, but Genoa remain in mid-table and immensely proud of having invested their €4 million (Dh16.9m) in Piatek, who has 13 goals across competitions.

He has in his sights the landmark of 11 league matches on the trot on the scoresheet, an Italian record set by celebrated Argentine Gabriel Batistuta when he was with Fiorentina in 1994/95.

Yaya’s Athens bow

Olympiakos' Yaya Toure, right, had last played for Olympiakos in May 2006. Reuters
Olympiakos' Yaya Toure, right, had last played for Olympiakos in May 2006. Reuters

After a long wait, as he restored his match fitness after a vexing summer deciding to whom he would hire his vast range of skills and experience, Yaya Toure finally made his second league debut for Olympiakos, the club he joined on a free transfer at the expiry of his contract with Manchester City.

The 35-year-old Ivory Coast international, African champion, European club champion with Barcelona, and Premier League giant, had last played for Olympiakos in May 2006.

He returned to Greek league action as a late substitute in the 1-1 draw at champions AEK Athens, in time to see AEK snatch their stoppage time equaliser.

Mbappe, magnifique

Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe is enjoying a purple patch at the moment. AFP
Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe is enjoying a purple patch at the moment. AFP

Fourteen minutes: the time Kylian Mbappe took to thump his four goals past Lyon, the club who imagined they might be Paris Saint-Germain’s best equipped challengers in France this season.

“He could have scored six or seven,” PSG manager Thomas Tuchel reckoned of Mbappe’s show, after he had already set up Neymar’s goal in the 5-0 win.

Fact to remember: Mbappe has three and half months still before his 20th birthday.