Top 10 Performances from Around the World on Weekend of August 29-31
Starting the season with a big victory over a tough rival can send out a message to the rest of the league: a statement of intent is the usual expression that goes with such a win. That's something along the lines of what Chelsea managed this weekend, with their 6-3 victory at Everton.
It doesn't always have to be the case, though, that the best performances go this way.
A much narrower but well-deserved victory is just as impressive and is still worth three points, just as it is when it comes later on in the season.
Here are our top 10 performances of the weekend from around the game.
10. AC Milan
Life was not good at AC Milan last year, as a poor squad and a manager without control or direction culminated in a midtable finish and no European football for this season.
Pippo Inzaghi is the new man at the helm, and his reign started in terrific fashion with a good performance and a 3-1 win over Lazio, the side who finished just below Milan last season.
With further new signings likely and the optimism of a new season in place, it has at least been a positive opening to the Serie A season for the club—but there is still a long way to go to put Milan anywhere near the top of Italian football.
9. Portland Timbers
Jumping over to MLS, the Portland Timbers picked up a massive three points at the weekend.
The Timbers ran out 3-0 winners away from home, beating play-off rivals the Vancouver Whitecaps with impressive ease, dominating most of the match and certainly being far more clinical with the chances they created.
That result puts Portland back into fifth place, the last play-off place, and just one point ahead of the Whitecaps in the Western Conference. Portland have, however, played a game more—but that just makes this win all the more important.
The Dutch Eredivisie has been dominated by Frank de Boer's Ajax side over the past four seasons, with Ajax winning the title each year since 2010-11 to equal the four-year streak of PSV (twice from 1986-89 and 2005-08) and HVV (1899-1900 to 1902-03).
Nobody has ever won it five times in a row though, and early signs may be that this will continue to be the case. Ajax lost the Dutch Super Cup at the start of the season and have now lost two of their first four league games—the latest against Groningen.
Groningen had to dig in at times to withstand a bit of an Ajax onslaught, but they defended marvellously and took their own chances to win 2-0. They sit second in the early Eredivisie table.
7. Paris Saint-Germain
PSG look, very early on, as though they could absolutely blitz Ligue 1 this year, by a much bigger margin than the last two years.
They blew St.-Etienne away by a 5-0 scoreline at the weekend, helped along by an awful goalkeeping error by Stephane Ruffier and a hat-trick from the returning Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
That's nine goals in four games for PSG, who are second in the early table, unbeaten.
6. Boca Juniors
Down to South America now and a famous name who picked up a big result.
Boca Juniors have struggled so far in the new campaign, winning only one of their first four matches, despite finishing second in last season's Torneo Final.
A match against the unbeaten table-toppers, Velez Sarsfield, then was probably not what they would have wanted—but Rodolfo Arruabarrena's men picked up their form to record an impressive 3-1 win—despite going a goal down in the first half.
Back to Serie A, where last season's runners-up AS Roma opened with a tough fixture against Fiorentina.
They came through that test with flying colours, recording a clean sheet: Remember last season's astonishingly good defensive record run at the beginning of the campaign? They created plenty of chances themselves into the bargain.
A 2-0 win was a good start for the 2014-15 season, against what will be tough opponents for all rivals at the top of the league.
4. Athletic Bilbao
Athletic Bilbao showed no signs of a European hangover as they put in a powerful, controlled and clinical display against Levante this weekend in La Liga.
The Basque side ran out 3-0 winners, and it could have been more, with wide players Ibai Gomez and Iker Muniain in particularly impressive form throughout.
Champions League football, a new stadium, a top-class manager and an impressive side—things are looking great for the San Mames team in 2014-15, and they really are a team to watch.
Over to the Premier League in England now, where Liverpool put in one of their trademark blistering away performances, complete with the requisite early goal, to tear Tottenham Hotspur apart by a 3-0 scoreline.
Mario Balotelli made an impressive debut, the Reds kept a clean sheet with three new signings in the back four, and Raheem Sterling continued his excellent form, as Brendan Rodgers' men bounced back from defeat at Manchester City earlier in the week.
Two wins from three and one of the two hardest trips of the season out of the way makes it a good start for Liverpool to 2014-15.
The performance of the weekend in the Premier League just about goes to Chelsea ahead of Liverpool, certainly not for their defending but for their ability to take the game back to Everton every time the opposition looked like getting close enough to equalise.
Chelsea ran out 6-3 winners away from home, showcasing their power in attack that Diego Costa brings along with a clinical edge from the supporting line.
The blues are favourites for the title for a reason—tremendous depth as well as ability in the starting XI.
1. Real Sociedad
The performance of the weekend has to go to the comeback of the weekend.
Real Sociedad trailed 2-0 to Real Madrid after barely 10 minutes, and after double that time, it could easily have been four or five.
One goal back off a set piece, though, changed the entire outlook of the game, and Real Sociedad blitzed Madrid with a four-goal unanswered haul, running out 4-2 winners at Anoeta. It was a great comeback after a dreadful start and a top result to get their new season up and running after an opening-day defeat.