Here, we pick out the individuals stars from the latest round of matches with our European Team of the Weekend.
GK: Edouard Mendy (Reims)
It has been quite the start to life in Ligue 1 for Reims. After kicking off with a 2-1 win away at Nice, they picked up an impressive 1-0 victory at home to Lyon. Mendy was outstanding in goal for the hosts, denying last season’s third-placed side on numerous occasions. The 26-year-old kept Memphis Depay, Houssem Aouar and Maxwel Cornet at bay in the second half as Lyon pushed for an equaliser.
RB: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)
An excellent opening-day performance from Real Madrid right-back Carvajal, as he played a key role in the win against Getafe. The Spaniard was on hand to open the scoring with a clever header, while offensively he was involved regularly, with only Marcelo and Toni Kroos having more touches. Defensively, Carvajal made two tackles and four clearances to help Julen Lopetegui’s men start their La Liga campaign with a clean sheet.
CB: Nacho (Real Madrid)
A second Real Madrid defender in our Team of the Week. Nacho was named in the side ahead of Raphael Varane by Lopetegui and he certainly made his mark with an impressive defensive display. The Spaniard made the joint-most tackles (2) and interceptions (4) for his side, while also leading the way for clearances (3). Nacho’s last-man tackle to deny Getafe also preserved a clean sheet for his side.
CB: Thiago Cionek (SPAL 2013)
Experienced defender Cionek produced a stunning defensive display to help SPAL 2013 to an away victory against Bologna in Serie A. The Polish international made four tackles, two interceptions and nine clearances, as well as winning seven aerial duels as he helped his side to a clean sheet. He also impressed on the ball, with more touches and passes than any other SPAL player.
LB: Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City)
One of three Manchester City players to feature in our team, Mendy was exceptional against Huddersfield. After his long-term injury last season, the left-back really is like a new signing for Pep Guardiola, with his heavy involvement going forward on show once again at the Etihad. Involved in three of City’s six goals, Mendy made twelve crosses in total, as well as three key passes.
CM: Miha Zajc (Empoli)
Attacking midfielder Zajc was instrumental as he helped Empoli get their Serie A season underway with a 2-0 win against Cagliari. The 26-year-old was influential in attacking areas for his side, making four key passes and three accurate crosses, while also assisting the decisive second goal for Francesco Caputo with a well-timed pass. Zajc also completed three dribbles as he proved a constant menace for the Cagliari defence.
CM: David Silva (Manchester City)
While Sergio Aguero’s hat-trick may have taken many of the headlines, Silva was arguably Manchester City’s best player on what was a memorable day for the Spaniard. Silva was City’s chief architect against a defensive Terriers outfit, finding space with ease and producing incisive, clever passes. With Kevin De Bruyne out injured, he stepped up to free-kick duties in style, delivering a perfect free-kick to help City ease to victory.
CM: Naby Keita (Liverpool)
Liverpool were made to wait, but they won’t be minding that one bit now. Keita has looked sharp in both games so far this season, providing a threat in an attacking sense and also helping out the back four. Against Crystal Palace, the Guinean was everywhere, making five tackles and one interception defensively, while also driving forward from midfield. One move, to set up a chance for Mohamed Salah, would arguably have been the best assist of the season, had the Egyptian netted.
ST: Andre Silva (Sevilla)
He’s already scored more goals (three) than he managed in the whole of last season. On loan at Sevilla from AC Milan, Silva’s debut could hardly have gone any better. He became the first player to net a hat-trick on his La Liga debut in the 21st century, as Sevilla beat Rayo Vallecano 4-1 away from home. He was in the right place at the right time on all three occasions to guide his side to victory.
ST: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
A sixth opening-day brace for Messi in La Liga. Barcelona’s new captain was at his very best against Alaves, producing the magic required to break down a resolute defence. The clever free-kick that handed his side the lead was majestic, before a well-taken second sealed the victory in the final moments. The 31-year-old also completed five key passes and six dribbles, leading the way for the reigning champions.
ST: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
A 13th Manchester City hat-trick for Aguero, who was in tantalising form against Huddersfield Town. The Argentinean looked dangerous from the first moment, and opened his account with a sumptuous chip. His second was all about being in the right place at the right time, as he pounced on a loose ball. Aguero was unlucky not to grab a third sooner than he did, but when it arrived, it was excellently taken, as he steered Mendy’s cross home.
Former Chelsea and Tottenham midfielder Poyet took charge of Les Girondins in January and guided them to a place in the Europa League qualifiers.
But he upset the owners with an outpouring of anger aimed at their involvement in transfer dealings and has since been handed a one-week suspension.
Speaking at his press conference following a 2-1 Europa League qualifying win over Ukrainian outfit Mariupol, Poyet is reported to have claimed it was a “disgrace” that forward Gaetan Laborde had been sold to rivals Montpellier without his knowledge.
Poyet, who previously managed Brighton and Sunderland, was initially reported to have been sacked over the episode. That remains a possible future outcome after Bordeaux president Stephane Martin confirmed the suspension.
“We think he overstepped the mark,” Martin said at his own media briefing on Friday morning.
“The club has taken this decision. Concerning what led him to make these comments, that’s up to him, it’s for him to respond to that.
“You’ve been able to see the tension for two months but for the first six months there wasn’t any. The start of the transfer window marked the tensions which have only festered.
“It remains a surprise despite everything, an outburst as violent as that, after a victory. After such comments, it would seem complicated for me to act as if nothing happened.”
Martin did not rule out the potential of the situation being resolved amicably after announcing Poyet will meet with the club next week to discuss whether he will continue as boss.
Bordeaux later confirmed on their official website that fitness coach Eric Bedouet will take the reins for the Ligue 1 clash at Toulouse on Sunday, with Martin insisting no plans have been made to replace Poyet permanently.
“Listen, for the moment there is still a procedure which isn’t finished,” Martin added in his press conference, which was shown on Bordeaux’s website.
“Before talking about a future coach we have to wait until next Friday. At the moment we’re only talking about a lay-off.
“(Until) last night, changing coach wasn’t something we were thinking about. We are in particularly unusual circumstances, we’ve been caught off guard a little. Wait until next Friday.”
His signing was hailed as a coup for the club, and he showed why as his performance in midfield helped his side topple Champions League winners Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup, with Diego Simeone’s side winning 4-2 after extra time.
The 22-year-old made an instant impact for his new club, impressing in midfield.
Here’s a closer look at how Lemar performed.
Goals – 0
Assists – 0
Shots – 0
Pass Accuracy – 85%
Key Passes – 0
Dribbles – 3
Controlling possession – Lemar popped up everywhere, directing play from midfield for Atletico. It was somewhat of a departure from his usual role as a winger or playmaker, but given Atletico’s preference to play on the counter, Lemar will be asked to do this more often.
Defensive work rate – The 22-year-old seems to have bought into the Atletico ethos instantly. The young attacker could be seen constantly tracking back, at times picking up the ball just outside his own half. His performance answered any questions about whether he’d fit at Atletico.
The flair and excitement that Lemar is known for was missing in this display. He was too conservative on the ball at times, not looking to beat his man often enough or drift into spaces where he could put his pace to greatest effect.
Despite his own excellent performance, Atletico looked more dangerous once Lemar was taken off, with substitute attackers Vitolo and Angel Correa doing the damage for the side. Did Lemar curb his natural game too much?
Lemar looking pretty good, settled in, considering. Working really hard off the ball, already on set-piece duty.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 15, 2018
This was a promising debut from Lemar. He showed how quickly he’s adapted to Atletico’s style of playing, even though it’s the polar opposite of the free-flowing attacking football he was used to at Monaco.
More importantly, the Frenchman showed a range of talents that were not always fully exploited at his former club, with an ability to dictate play from midfield a newfound aspect of Lemar’s game.
It was a bright performance that should have left Atletico feeling encouraged and excited.
RATING – 7/10