With the Premier League and Ligue 1 now in full swing, Serie A and La Liga began their seasons with a weekend of high drama and wins for Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Roma.
Most of the main contenders were able to record wins at the weekend to start their seasons in the best possible way, while others will have to wait until next week to try and claim their first victory.
Champions Barcelona started as they mean to go on, destroying Gus Poyet’s Real Betis 6-2 at the Camp Nou. Luis Suárez was the hero of the night, scoring a hat-trick for the home side and taking his tally to 17 in his last 6 Liga matches. Arda Turan, in the side in the absence of the otherwise occupied Neymar, opened the scoring goal after just 6 minutes to set the tempo, and despite Ruben Castro equalising at the 20 minute mark, that was as good as it good for Betis before Barça ran rampant.
On Sunday night, Gareth Bale made sure that Real Madrid did not feel the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo or Karim Benzema, scoring either side of a beautiful Marco Asensio lob in a 3-0 at Real Sociedad.
However, Atlético could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to newly-promoted Alavés. They thought they had won the game when a foul on Fernando Torres allowed new signing Kevin Gameiro to score an injury time penalty, only for Manu García to level the game deeper into stoppage time with a brilliant strike.
Elsewhere, Sevilla beat Espanyol 6-4 in an epic contest, Granada v Osasuna and Malaga v Osasuna also ended in 1-1 draws, while there were home 2-1 wins for Sporting Gijon and Deportivo La Coruna against Athletic Bilbao and Eibar respectively.
Current title holders Juventus began their season with an awkward tie at home to Paulo Sousa’s Fiorentina. Dani Alves was the only one of Juve’s new signings to start the game, but record €90m striker Gonzalo Higuaín was to prove the hero, scoring the winner on his debut less than ten minutes after coming on from the bench.
Sami Khedira had put the home side in front in the first half, only for Fiorentina striker Nikola Kalinic to equalise with 20 minutes remaining. Higuaín’s goal ultimately gave Max Allegri’s side a 2-1 win.
Title rivals Roma, meanwhile, were a bit more emphatic in their opening-day victory against Udinese. Though their first goal did not come until the 65th minute, courtesy of substitute Diego Perotti, when it finally did arrive the floodgates opened. Perotti scored his second ten minutes later, before strikes in the last ten minutes by Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah gave Luciano Spalletti’s side a comprehensive 4-0 victory.
The rest of the chasing pack began their campaigns 24 hours later, though it would be fair to say that none of them impressed. Napoli had to come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 away to newly-promoted Pescara, while Frank de Boer’s Inter went down 2-0 in a surprise defeat to Chievo.
Undoubtedly though, the match of the weekend came at at the San Siro. Sinisa Mihajlovic brought his Torino side to face his old club AC Milan, now under the management of former Italian international Vincenzo Montella. Colombian striker Carlos Bacca, whom Milan had tried to sell to West Ham earlier this summer, scored a hat-trick for the home side, and at 3-1 into injury time it looked safe for Montella’s side.
A late goal from Daniele Baselli to make it 3-2 was thought of to be little more than a consolation, but when Gabriel Paletta gave away a penalty deep into injury time, it looked as though Milan had thrown it away. However, 17-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was the Rossoneri’s late saviour, stopping the penalty and ensuring a winning start for Montella.
Elsewhere, Lazio beat Atalanta 4-3 away from home, there were 1-0 wins for Sassuolo, Sampdoria and Bologna, while Genoa beat Cagliari 3-1.
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