Lionel Messi is on the front page of the Catalan Mundo Deportivo celebrating a 500th Barça goal which ended Sevilla’s 100% home record. “Messi’s Outburst,” is the headline, “A spectacular Leo leads a blaugrana comeback in the Pizjuan with a goal and an assist. Barça suffered in the first half but in the second the supercrack changed everything.”
“Saint Messi,” is the headline on the rival Sport. “Leo resuscitates Barça who were against the ropes in a memorable performance at the Sanchez Pizjuan.
Barça rose to second behind Real Madrid, who are now 28 unbeaten. “Happy Day,” is the headline on the front of Marca complete with a picture of an air-bound Gareth Bale – Madrid’s best player this season - celebrating in a 3-0 home win against Leganes. “A double and a step forward for Bale,” writes Marca, while noting the return of Luca Modric and another goal for Alvaro Morata.”
“28 games without losing. It’s no coincidence,” writes columnist Roberto Palomar in an article praising Zinedine Zidane.
Atletico Madrid were beaten again, this time at in-form Real Sociedad. “The last time this (two defeats in successive away games) happened, Atletico were champions,” write Marca in a piece stating that coach Diego Simeone ‘knows the way’.
In Germany, RB Leipzig drew level on points with Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga with a fifth win in succession, this time over Mainz 05. “I see no limits for us at the moment,” manager Ralf Hasenhüttl told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Sunday. “I don’t know where that limit would even be.”
“RB send out a strong signal,” said Kicker after goals from Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg helped the controversial newcomers to a comfortable 3-1 win. “RB are stalking Bayern” said Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, “Level on points!” exclaimed BILD.
The ambitious Red Bull-backed club were able to capitalise on Bayern’s 1-1 draw at home to Hoffenheim. “Untouchable Bayern suddenly look vulnerable” said the FAZ after Carlo Ancelotti’s side needed an own-goal to cancel out Kerem Demirbay’s early opener for the visitors. “Own goal saves rubbish Bayern” said BILD – partly referring to Bayern’s environmentally-friendly kits made from recycled waste.
After a goal and two assists last weekend, Arjen Robben was upset to be substituted in Eindhoven in midweek and again in the Bundesliga this weekend, refusing to shake his manager’s hand. “Are you sure there’s no problem, Carlo?” wondered Munich’s Tageszeitung.
Germany’s traditionalists are hardly ecstatic at a table which features RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim in second and third respectively. But as Süddeutsche Zeitung pointed out, “the so-called plastic clubs are making it increasingly difficult for their critics to hate them”. In Hasenhüttl at Leipzig and 29-year-old Julian Nagelsmann at Hoffenheim, the clubs possess two of the brightest young managers in the league and play exciting, high-tempo pressing games. “Both teams have clearly-defined brands of football,” continued the SZ – “unlike Bayern.”
According to BILD, RB are set to continue their policy of recruiting bright young talent in January with the pursuit of West Ham United’s 17-year-old defender Reece Oxford.
Whilst the “plastic” upstarts take the league by storm, traditional giants Hamburger SV are in increasingly grave danger of suffering a first ever relegation from the top flight, this week’s defeat coming at the hands of Borussia Dortmund and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The Gabonese striker had been surprisingly omitted from the squad against Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday as punishment for an unauthorised trip to Milan, but all was forgiven as Aubameyang hit four in a 5-2 rout. “Milan trip + suspension = FOUR GOALS!” calculated Revier Sport. “Tuchel and Aubameyang are friends again” added the Rheinische Post as the BVB hitman moved level with Anthony Modeste in the Bundesliga’s scoring charts – the French striker drawing a blank as Cologne lost at Frankfurt.
But for HSV the situation is looking increasingly desperate. “Chaos gets even worse” said BILD. “There was once a proud club called Hamburg” lamented the SZ, adding: “at least 2-5 is better than 0-8.” Meanwhile, the local Hamburger Abendblatt reported on “fans lampooning the team and turning away from HSV.”
In France, early leaders Nice finally lost for the first time in Ligue 1 as they were defeated 1-0 by Caen. “There it is! Nice have fallen!” said France Football. According to local Nice Matin, “a poor first half proved fatal for Lucien Favre’s men.”
The defeat allowed Monaco and PSG to close the gap on the leaders to three points as both sides registered big wins, 6-0 and 4-0 vs Nancy and Rennes respectively. “Falcao puts on a show” said L’Équipe as the Columbian scored twice for the Monégasques.
Meanwhile, 20minutes called PSG’s victory a “walk in the Parc” with goals from Edinson Cavani, Adrien Rabiot and Marco Verratti. “Paris teach Rennes a lesson” said France Football. “PSG look like they enjoyed that” added L’Équipe.
In Italy, coachless Inter Milan won 3-0 against Crotone after dismissing Frank de Boer following a poor run. “Pioli & Icardi – Inter get back on track” is the headline on La Gazzetta dello Sport. Stefano Pioli is expected to become Inter’s new boss on a deal until 2018 and make his debut in the Milan derby. According to several papers, the former Lazio boss just needs clearance from Lazio, who he led to second last season. Tutto Sport suggest that he was recommended to Inter by Inter’s controversial captain Icardi.
Atalanta have been one of the surprises of this season. ‘Bergamo (where Atalanta play) keeps rising, three goals and European zone’ writes Gazzetta. Champions Juventus are four points clear at the top and won again, this time at Chievo with goals from Mandzukic and Pjanic.
“Juve are laughing,” is the headline on the Turin based Tutto Sport “Allegri responds to critics: ‘We play badly? I have to smile…’” “Pjanic, what sweet music,” is the headline on Monday’s Corriere dello Sport complete with a picture of the Bosnian striker cupping his ears to listen to fans in celebration. “Juve sing for their 10th victory. The Bosnian decisive.”