WEEKEND REVIEW: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE RELEGATION BOUND CADIZ
The UK mourned the passing of her Queen so games were postponed as a show of respect. In other countries around the world, Ajax and Rennes registered 5-0 wins, Juventus and Bayern had to settle 2-2 draws at home, Inter and Napoli waited till the 89th minute to grab their wins and Marcos Rojo is back in the news. We take a look at these in this week’s edition of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly including La Liga’s relegation bound Cadiz.
Dušan Tadić Shines In Ajax Win
He may not have gotten on the scoresheet but Ajax’s Dušan Tadić was the star on Saturday registering 3 assists in his team’s 5-0 win over Heerenveen in the Eredivisie. Since the 3-5 loss to PSV in the Johan Cruyff Cup at the start of the season, Ajax have won 7 of their 7 games including 6 in the league where they’ve scored 21 goals and conceded just 3. It’s impressive for a team that lost its head coach as well as 8 first team regulars. Ajax have equaled the best ever start to an Eredivisie start (6 straight wins) and a win away at AZ Alkmaar next week would set a new record.
Dominik Szoboszlai Scores Stunner In Win over Dortmund
RB Leipzig had to let go of Domenico Tedesco last week after a poor start to the season. Marco Rose, who had been sacked by Dortmund in May, was hired as his replacement and he wouldn’t have wished for a better game to start his tenure as he got to face his former employers. He orchestrated a very convincing 3-0 win for RB Leipzig – their second league win of the season – with Dominik Szoboszlai getting on the scoresheet with a Goal of the Month worthy screamer from way outside the box.
Late Winners For Inter & Napoli
Two Scudetto hopefuls had to wait till the 89th min to secure all 3 pts on Saturday. Coming off a loss to Bayern in the UCL, Inter had something to prove in this game but Torino’s defense remained resolute for most of the 90 mins. Luckily, Nicolò Barella’s lob-pass into the box late in the game was met by Marcelo Brozović’s deft touch to help the Nerazzurri grab a win. League leaders Napoli were full of confidence going into Saturday’s game after their 4-1 demolition of Liverpool. However, Spezia proved to be a tougher test than expected. With Victor Osimhen out with an injury, new signing Giacomo Raspadori started the game and was the late hero with a calm finish into the bottom left of the post.
Noah Okafor Scores In 5th Consecutive Game For RB Salzburg
22-year-old Swiss striker, Noah Okafor was on the scoresheet for RB Salzburg for the 5th game in a row as the Austrian Champions beat Ried 3-0 away from home. On Matchday 1 of the UCL, Noah Okafor had opened the scoring against AC Milan before Alexis Saelemaekers equalised for the Italians as the game ended in a stalemate. Okafor’s form has seen him attract teams from the Premier League most notably Leeds United who might make a move for him in January but before that, he’ll be hoping to retain the Austrian Bundesliga with RB Salzburg.
Steve Mandanda Gets His First Ligue 1 Assist
Rennes beat Auxure 5-0 on Sunday with 5 different scorers getting on the scoresheet. Impressively, this is the third time in 2022 they’re achieving this in Ligue 1. The story of the day was goalie Steve Mandanda who assisted Favien Tait in the 78th min; his first ever Ligue 1 assist and only the second time a Rennes goalie was registering an assist since Opta began analysing the competition in 2006/07 (Benoit Costil against Nantes in 2017). As you may have guessed, this wasn’t different from the typical goalie assist; a long kick that somehow gets misjudged by everyone except the scorer.
Bayern Held To 3rd Consecutive League Draw
Bayern were held to their 3rd league draw in a row on Saturday by Stuttgart as they dropped to 3rd in the German Bundesliga. They took the lead twice but the visitors came back on both occasions to earn a point including one in the 92nd min after Matthijs de Ligt gave away a penalty. Perhaps the one thing the Bavarians can smile about is £25m summer signing, Mathys Tel becoming the club’s youngest ever scorer (17 years & 136 days) after he netted the opener. 19-year-old Jamal Musiala also got on the scoresheet scoring his 5th goal of the season to go with his 2 assists in just 7 games – something to smile about at least.
FC Orenburg Suffer FC Zenit’s Wrath
The Russian champions recorded the biggest win in their history and poor FC Orenburg were the victims. Zenit winger Wendel scored a hat-trick with fellow Brazilian, Malcolm grabbing a brace as the game finished 8-0. Zenit maintained their top position in the Russian League with 7 wins & 2 draws in 9 games while their victims Orenburg dropped to 12th, just 1pt above the relegation zone.
Bayer Leverkusen Drops To 17th
It’s not everyday you have a Champions League team stuck in the relegation zone in their domestic league but Leverkusen are second from bottom in the Bundesliga and there are growing concerns. They got knocked out of the DFB Pokal back in July but it was quickly shrugged off as “a rare upset” but now, they’re starting to get worried. Saturday’s comeback draw against Hertha (2-2) was only their 4th league point of the season out of a possible 18 having also lost to Club Brugge last Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League. With games against Atletico and Bayern in their next 3 fixtures, Gerardo Seoane might be out of a job soon.
Marcos Rojo’s Straight Red Card
Yup. Him. Former Manchester United player Marcus Rojo was sent off in the 97th minute for Boca Juniors in their 1-0 Superclásico win over River Plate. With the game in its closing stages, a deflected clearance saw the ball float in the air and as River Plate’s Nicolás de la Cruz attempted to control the ball with his head, Marcos Rojo introduced his head to his very high boot which the referee did not approve of. Rojo’s red card was the 6th this fixture has seen in the last 7 games making it, perhaps, the fiercest rivalry in football.
Juventus’ Struggles Continue
Juventus sit 8th in the Italian Serie A having won just 2 league games in 6. Salernitana scored twice in the 1st half through Antonio Candreva & Krzysztof Piątek to stun the home crowd and Juventus had to rely on their center-backs to get back into this. New signing Gleison Bremer nodded home in the 51st min to pull one back before Leonardo Bonucci scored a rebound off a missed penalty in the 93rd min to level things up. Then came the drama. Arkadiusz Milik, who was on a yellow card, scored what he thought was a 96th min winner for the Old Lady then took his shirt off. So, he was shown a 2nd yellow and sent off. 3-2 to Juventus. But no! VAR spotted a shady offside so the goal was ruled out. Back to 2-2. Juan Cuadrado was not exactly happy with the decision and had some not-so-kind words for the referee, Matteo Marcenaro. So, he got sent off as well. Salernitana’s Federico Fazio also didn’t have nice words to say to the referee and was shown a red. Then Juventus Manager, Massimiliano Allegri (who had seen enough) uttered some very-colourful words and, as you may have guessed, got sent off as well. 4 red cards AFTER the 96th min, in case you lost count. Complete chaos.
THE UGLY: THE RELEGATION BOUND CADIZ
Cadiz find themselves rooted to the bottom of La Liga with 5 losses in 5 and 14 goals conceded but even more worryingly, 0 goals scored. They’re the only team in Europe’s Top 5 Leagues yet to find the back of the net and it is widely believed that their stay in the top flight of Spanish football might be coming to an end after 3-seasons.
After gaining promotion in 2020, Cadiz comfortably avoided relegation in their first season back in La Liga finishing in 12th place, 10 pts above the relegation zone. Last season was different, though. They struggled for the most part and had to rely on a final day win to leapfrog Granada who eventually went down.
The turning point of their 2021/2022 season was the appointment of Serigo Gonzalez as Head Coach in January. He took 25pts from their final 18 games and helped them avoid the drop. From his appointment till the end of the season, only Barcelona registered a better xG difference than Cadiz’s 0.52 per match. That stat, as impressive as it seemed, did not tell the entire story. With 35 goals scored, they only outscored 15th place Getafe and 20th place Alaves so it’s obvious they focused on creating high quality chances rather than loads of chances. They were outperforming their xG but it was only a matter of time before they regressed in front of goal and this season, they’ve done just that.
To criticise the business done this summer would be unfair. The €6.90m on transfers may seem little but for a club of that size, especially one outside England, that’s a decent amount. Their big signing, winger Théo Bongonda is yet to hit the ground running. The DR Congo international scored 13 goals & 5 assists for Genk last season but has played a total of 57 mins this season as he struggles to adapt to life in Spain. They also added Brian Ocampo & Rubén Alcaraz who haven’t made a difference as well.
It came as no surprise when Barcelona visited on Saturday and grabbed all 3 pts. Robert Lewandowksi only had to play 33 mins the entire game to get a goal and 2 assists in a dominating 4-0 win. For Cadiz fans, it does feel like only a miracle similar to the appointment of Sergio Gonzalez can save them from dropping to the Segunda in May.