Things started well, but they often do for promoted clubs. Now it looks like there’s a real risk of four of my five teams being relegated, with Metz once again the stand out. Par for the course? Well yes, it is really. Here’s how the latest week of football for five European strugglers went down…
Fulham 2-2 v West Brom away, 0-2 v Leicester at home.
Fulham actually aren’t playing too badly at the moment, but their chances of Premier League survival have, in my opinion, slid away in the last few weeks. It’d take a massive turn around to come out of things now.
They badly needed to get something out of the consecutive games against the teams that they need to beat: Brighton, Burnley and West Brom. In the last of those at the weekend, against West Brom, Fulham were seriously unlucky, creating the chances to come out well on top in a 2-2 draw, but that seems to be the way when it’s not happening for you.
Leicester on current form was always going to be a big ask, and so it proved – very comfortable for Leicester, who might well be in with an outside chance of winning the title again this year. Fulham now a full 8 points adrift, with even Sheffield United below them coming back.
Arminia Bielefeld 1-3 v FC Koln away, 16th place
Bielefeld’s solid defence at the moment is fading a little, something which really isn’t helped by their inability to score many at the other end. This game was a real opportunity to create a gap between them and the play off position, and a missed one as Koln slipped past Arminia with a comfortable win.
Koln were absolutely clinical here, in a game of relatively few chances, and in truth Arminia looked done by half time, scoring a late consolation to keep the score respectible.
They’ll need to start eking out results if they’re to avoid a nasty play off game against a typically on-form second tier side at the end of the season. Bayern up next is not going to help.
Elche CF 0-1 away to Valencia, 19th place
Times are getting desperate for Elche, who have now lost five of their last six league games and slipped down to 19th place, their low for the season. Valencia, it’s fair to say, are not the team they once were, but this was still a tough ask.
In some ways this felt a little harsh: like Arminia, Elche have the worst scoring record in their division, but they created a decent number of chances here and could easily have leveled up on a couple of occasions.
Valencia’s goal was equally a bit lucky: a poor bit of goalkeeping for a header that would probably have been saved three times in four. That’s how luck goes when you’re struggling, though. Elche are going to need to turn this around, and soon.
Spezia Calcio 0-1 v Udinese at home
Spezia continue to be poor at home, and will see this loss against Udinese as a missed opportunity to put a gap on the relegation zone and pull themselves into a battle with a few other sides, including the opposition this week.
That said, they’re still on decent form compared to their rivals, and this was a tight loss with yet another sending off for the home side. This was a scrappy contest that honestly had a classic 0-0 written all over it until Spezia conceded an unnecessary penalty.
Its getting tight again, but they should still be ok to survive, if they keep grabbing points on the road.
FC Metz 4-2 away to Brest and 1-1 at home to Montpellier
The sunshine at the end of a slightly gloomy looking selection these days. Metz are flying so high it’s almost ridiculous for a team that was heavily odds-on for relegation at the start of the season.
Brest actually led in the first of these two games, twice, including as late as the 70th minute. Metz’ first goal was a cracker, and they dominated the closing stages to come out comfortable winners.
In the second came, Sarr showed that lethal touch again, as Metz went ahead against the run of play. They had to baten down the hatches for much of this game, but did enough to grab a draw that leaves them in a lofty 6th position.