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Weekend Review: Real Madrid clinch LaLiga, Burnley & Everton keep fighting, Serie A title race stays hot


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SATURDAY, AUG. 13• Cardiff vs. Birmingham, 7:25 a.m. ET • Leverkusen vs. Augsburg, 9:20 a.m. ET • RB Leipzig vs. 1. FC Köln, 9:20 a.m. ET • Schalke 04 vs. Borussia M"bach, 12:20 p.m. ET • Sunderland vs. Queens Park Rangers, 10 a.m. ET • Barcelona vs. Rayo Vallecano, 2:30 p.m. ET • Louisville city vs. Tampa bay Rowdies, 7:30 p.m. ET • Full schedule

Manchester United, however, began the season looking every bit the mess they resembled for much of last season. They lost 2-1 lớn Brighton in Erik Ten Hag"s managerial debut, creating minimal disruption without the ball and minimal danger with it. Even if Ten Hag ends up being a long-term success, it"s clearly possible that this roster might not be ready to vì what he requires for a while longer.

Granted, even in a terribly messy state, United still snared sixth place last season. Such are the Big Six"s advantages over the rest of the league. But there"s a club aspiring khổng lồ make this a Big Seven và it"s hard not lớn notice how good that team has looked, both over the second half of last season & in last weekend"s season debut.

Premier League points per game from Jan. 21 to lớn the over of the 2021-22 season:

Liverpool, 2.76Manchester City, 2.31Chelsea, 2.00Tottenham Hotspur, 1.90Arsenal, 1.89Manchester United, 1.44xG differential after the first match of 2022-23:

Manchester City, +1.74Newcastle United, +1.46Tottenham Hotspur, +1.09Chelsea, +0.97Newcastle is in no way a rags-to-riches underdog tale. A LIV Golf for the Premier League, the club was officially taken over by Saudi Arabia"s Public Investment Fund in October. It has gotten much better in a very short amount of time.

Newcastle have so far laid out around $185 million on seven players in the past two transfer windows, & five of them starred in the club"s 2-0 win over Forest last weekend. Granted, new goalkeeper Nick Pope and defender Dan Burn didn"t have a ton lớn do, but the wrecking-ball trio of full-backs Kieran Trippier và Matt Targett and defense-minded midfielder Bruno Guimaraes combined for eight chances created and a jaw-dropping 35 ball recoveries.


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For starters, they controlled large swaths of their two-legged tie with PSV, generating 4.4 xG from 45 shots while allowing just 1.6 from 19. PSV made the most of the chances it created, but that"s a tie Monaco wins far more often than not. In between those PSV matches, they looked brilliant against a Strasbourg squad that finished a healthy sixth in the league last season. The score was merely 2-1, but they were again a fountain of high-quality chances, generating 2.8 xG from 24 shots while allowing just 0.8 from 11.

That"s a +4.8 xG differential in just three matches. Star Wissam Ben Yedder (1.2 xG, one goal, two chances created) has been solid, newcomer Breel Embolo has been a chance-creation machine (seven shots worth 0.7 xG, six chances created) & youngsters Youssouf Fofana (23) and Sofiane Diop (22) have been chaotic in all the best ways: nine shots worth 1.33 xG, one goal, 11 chances created & 36 ball recoveries.

Maybe finishing remains an issue as it has been out of the gate, & maybe that holds the club back. But Monaco matches are going to lớn be extremely entertaining this season. And if the opening weekend is any indication, that might go for all of Ligue 1.

As fun as Monaco-Strasbourg was lớn watch, it was one of the league"s least-prolific matches: PSG"s 5-0 win over Clermont was one of five matches that produced five combined goals. Marseille (over Reims) và Lille (over AJ Auxerre) won 4-1 decisions, while Montpellier (over Troyes) and Lens (over Brest) won by 3-2 margins. Scoring has increased for two consecutive years in Ligue 1 -- it was at 1.4 per team per match last season -- & early indications suggest the streak might reach three seasons pretty easily.

Either Union Berlin or Freiburg will play in the Champions League next year

Relevant results for overreactions: Union Berlin 3, Hertha Berlin 1

I spent much of the offseason writing about the Bundesliga and how all of last season"s best non-Bayern teams (Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen & RB Leipzig) all look lượt thích they could improve over their 2021-22 form. BVB & RBL have both made intriguing additions, while RBL and Leverkusen both made a concerted effort to lớn keep most of last season"s attacking stars. Per FiveThirtyEight, they are all projected favorites khổng lồ reach next year"s Champions League just as they did this year.

USMNT forward Pefok opened his Union Berlin scoring account in the Bundesliga"s opening weekend.Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty ImagesEven after last season"s fifth-place finish, Union Berlin entered this season with just a 16% shot at the Champions League. Sixth-place Freiburg was at 14%. Even in the midst of basically professing my love for Union in a recent piece, I also noted the role gravity tends to play on upstarts punching above their weight.

But the more we doubt these clubs, the better they play.

Union began this season with yet another manhandling of rival Hertha in the Berlin derby, their fourth straight derby win. They scored twice on beautiful transition goals -- one for newcomer Jordan Pefok on an assist from Sheraldo Becker, one for Becker on an assist from Janik Haberer -- và finished things off with a set-piece score. Meanwhile, their defense was as unforgiving as ever, allowing just seven shot attempts, only one of which was worth more than 0.05 xG. It was the prototypical Union win; the recipe could work quite well for another season.

Speaking of prototypes, Freiburg led the league in set-piece goals last season and scored a pair of them in a season-opening 4-0 blowout of Augsburg. Despite losing star Nico Schlotterbeck to lớn Borussia Dortmund, they played typically stingy Freiburg defense -- Augsburg attempted 11 shots, none worth more than 0.12 xG -- & veteran Matthias Ginter, the presumed Schlotterbeck replacement, not only contributed well in defense but scored a goal as well.

Meanwhile, RBL sputtered out of the gate with a đối chọi draw against Stuttgart (albeit one in which they held a solid xG advantage), & Bayer Leverkusen has begun the season with massive defensive issues: They lost 4-3 lớn third-division Elversberg in a DFB-Pokal upset, & they were lucky to allow only one goal to lớn Borussia Dortmund in their 1-0 league-opening loss. If either of those clubs suffers a prolonged glitch, steady, reliable Union & Freiburg could be best positioned to take advantage. They vì what they bởi very well.

Fulham will stay up this time

Relevant results for overreactions: Fulham 2, Liverpool 2

If Mitrovic can translate even a fraction of his scoring form in the Championship khổng lồ the Premier League, just lượt thích in scoring twice vs. Liverpool, then Fulham should be able lớn cement themselves in the đứng đầu flight for a change.Hendrik Schmidt/picture alliance via Getty ImagesIn 2018-19, Fulham was relegated from the Premier League, while Norwich đô thị was promoted from the Championship.

In 2019-20, Fulham was promoted & Norwich was relegated.

In 2020-21, Fulham was relegated and Norwich was promoted.

In 2021-22, Fulham was promoted và Norwich was relegated.

It"s comforting khổng lồ have constants in life, và Fulham and Norwich have provided just that. One goes up và the other goes down, without fail.

This year, the streak could very well end. For starters, Norwich has started its latest second-division season poorly, pulling one point from two league matches and losing lớn Birmingham thành phố in the EFL Cup. (American forward Josh Sargent: 99 minutes, three shot attempts worth 0.11 xG, no goals.) More noteworthy, however, was Fulham"s tit-for-tat home performance against mighty Liverpool on Saturday. Aleksandar Mitrovic scored twice, và Fulham generated nine shots worth 1.3 xG khổng lồ Liverpool"s 11 shots worth 1.2.

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