Welcome to a winning week – we’re starting to upset the odds! As it stands, ust one of my five relegation favourites are in the drop zone, and this week we got first league wins of the seasons for Arminia Bielefled, Spezia Calcio and Elche CF. The long-shots are taking shape…
Bundesliga: Arminia Bielefeld (5/6 on to be relegated) 1-0 at home to FC Koln
What a start to the season for Bielefeld, one that, amazingly considering the holders won 8-0 on the opening day, puts them above Bayern in the latest Bundesliga table, and outside the European places on goals scored.
Of course, Arminia haven’t played anyone that good yet (they’ve even lucky enough to have an indifferent Werder Bremen next), but points mean prizes, and Koln, who haven’t won a league game since March, are likely to be one of the teams Arminia are ultimately fighting to finish above.
This was a game of not many chances, but a glorious cameo in the form of substitute Joan Simun Edmundsson, a lad from the Faroe Islands who became the first-ever player from that corner of the globe to play in the Bundesliga. He promptly marked the occasion with a brilliant takedown and finish from a ludicrously tight angle to win the game.
Koln should have taken at least a point, and looked pretty toothless up top, but who cares. One of my teams is flying unexpectedly high…
Serie A: Spezia (1/4 on to go down) 1-4 at home to Sassuolo, 2-0 away to Udinese.
You look at the Spezia fixtures and fear for them: AC Milan, Palma and Fiorentina are all on the horizon, and on paper they are exceptionally overmatched. And so it looked in their opening game against Sassuolo, who are also one of the league’s smaller clubs (though they’ve done outstandingly in recent years).
Bulgarian international strike Andrey Galabinov looks likely to be the main threat for Spezia, and he leveled up for the newcomers in the first half against Sassuolo as they kicked off in their relatively modest stadium, which looks a little like an oversized version of Shamrock Rovers Tallaght ground.
On the opening day, though, they were utterly overmatched, with Galabinov having one other decent chance, but Spezia making two naive mistakes as Sassuolo overran them in the second half.
Udinese are short a few players at the moment, but they’re a far more well-established team than Spezia and would expect to beat them at home. Not so.
Udinese had the better of the chances, but another Galabinov header put Spezia in front, and then a second for the Bulgarian on the break finished the game as Spezia resisted despite being under ten men. That was enough for a first-EVER Serie A win for the minnows. They’re now looking nice in mid-table.
Side note: check out Udinese’s home shirt in the video below (it’s a bit mad). They also have a player called Lasagna; I know it makes me a child but I love that.
La Liga: Elche CF (8/15 to go down), 0-3 at home to Real Sociedad, 1-0 away to Eibar
For Catalan club Elche, the season is going to be about picking up points from the clubs in the bottom half of the table, and while they started poorly, they have done so this week.
A 3-0 home loss to Real Sociedad on their opening day suggested this might be a very long season, especially as Sociedad scored them all in the second half, and really should have been well in front by half time. Adnan Januzaj – a real blast from the premier league past – scored a penalty, and while Elche really should have scored themselves, they deserved to get well beaten.
Thankfully, things were a whole lot better mid-week, with Elche winning a scrappy game without many chances against Eibar away, though they were helped more than a little by an awful Eibar penalty miss. Another team in mid-table, kind of, if you consider those games in hand…
FC Metz (1/6 on to go down), 1-1 away to Marseille
In one sense, Metz already feel like they’re going to be the nearly men this year. They’ve been in every game, lost in the dying seconds to PSG last week (96 minutes), and now they’ve conceded in the 96th minute again to lose out on an away win to another league mega-club, Marseille.
Then again, that kind of record is fairly promising for a team so heavily odds on to go down. It was once again Senegalese forward Niane – by far Metz’ main attacking threat – who put them ahead, before Marseille broke them down with literally the last kick of the game.
Metz could be top half if games finished on 90 minutes. At least they’re not in the drop zone…
Premier League: Fulham (evens to go down) 0-3 vs Aston Villa at home
I’ll fess up, I didn’t really want Fulham to win this one (I’m an Aston Villa fan). Villa have made an excellent start, though nobody really that great has crossed our paths yet. Fulham’s has been pretty awful.
It’s clear there’s a major issue in the defence at Craven Cottage, and they look far too reliant on Mitrovic up front, too, so much so that I’d struggle to tell you who’s in the rest of their team even after following them for the last three weeks. The evens offering to go down look quite kind to Fulham at this stage. They could easily go ten games into the season without a win.
Grealish and McGinn in particular just shredded them. Changes or signings needed.
The stats (across my five teams, league games only)
Played 14 Won 4 Drawn 2 Lost 8
Goals for 12 Goals against 23
Average score – 0.86-1.65