By Ryan Fleming
If you placed bets this weekend, hopefully you didn’t slide a bookie cash on Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund, Lazio, AC Milan or even Arsenal. Though, if you’re putting money on the woeful Gunners, no disrespect, but you deserve a slap in the face. I don’t care if they are playing Hereford United in England’s League Two. What does all this obviously mean? It was a weekend of upsets.
Watching the Arsenal match early, hungover, Saturday morning (that’s dedication) I couldn’t help but question my thoughtless decision of waking up, without coffee, to watch a team that no matter how well they play the match before, will struggle the following match. Obviously, that happened, resulting in a 4-3 defeat, entertaining all the way.
Off to an equally questionable start to the season is Bundesliga champs, Dortmund. Die Swarzengelben, lost, rather astoundingly its previous two matches to Hannover 96 and newly-promoted Hertha BSC – at home! It’s certainly early, but one of the most entertaining teams (and fans) in Europe is in 11th place in the table, eight points behind the usual dominant Bayern Munich who sport a plus-17 goal differential compared to Dortmund’s one. The reigning champs haven’t lost back to back league games since April 16-19 of 2008. That’s the mark of a champion, so something must be wrong.
In Italy things are also rather peculiar. After earning a stunning 2-2 draw with Barcelona last year’s Serie A champs, AC Milan have also begun the new campaign rather dismally. Following a thrilling 2-2 draw (sound familiar?) with Lazio, Milan were crushed by Napoli 3-1, dumbfounded by an Edinson Cavani hat trick. Its next three matches are at the San Siro, three must-wins or they could face a hole early on.
To the West, in Spain, Real’s 1-0 loss to Levante is a bit less startling. Mourhin’s squad started the season rather spotless recording impressive 6-0 and 4-2 wins, not to mention a 1-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia. It’s early so a stumble like this isn’t a total surprise. But for a team that finished 14th last year, it’s eye-opening either way.
Back in England, the biggest story is the struggling Gunners and their manager, Arsene Wenger who refuses to admit that there is something deeply wrong in North London. Other than that, the money that has been stuffed into Manchester City seems to be finally paying off, Manchester United is on top of the EPL and Chelsea, despite its 3-1 downfall to United last Sunday, is trailing close behind.
All seems right, no? Not close. Turbulence abounds this brand new season.