Padraig Whelan·30 October 2023
Padraig Whelan·30 October 2023
There were derby drubbings, eight-goal wins and record-breaking comebacks across the continent this weekend.
But who makes our best XI from the top five leagues?
A terrific performance that ensured Hoffenheim escaped high-flying Stuttgart with all three points. Baumann may have conceded twice but the 33-year-old kept out a penalty and made several other vital saves to secure the upset win.
A clean sheet, a first goal for Lens (which he created and finished) and a peerless showing in his side’s easy 4-0 win against Nantes – but the Argentine would do well to be reminded of where he plays his club football. “The French have been broken since the World Cup final,” he quipped afterwards. Know your audience, Facundo.
The Torino academy product is one of Serie A’s unsung heroes who often flies under the radar but he grabbed centre stage all for himself in the win over Lecce. His return after Perr Schurrs’ injury was heaven sent as he nullified everything in addition to netting the only goal at the other end.
Another clean sheet-keeping defender who built on his day job first by netting a crucial goal to go with it. Pinnock was quite comfortable defensively throughout Brentford’s trip to Stamford Bridge and on a foray forward to add options from a throw-in, opened the scoring with a back post header.
How Marco Silva must be thanking his lucky stars that the Portuguese enforcer’s deadline day move to Bayern Munich fell through at the 11th hour. Palhinha was everywhere in the draw at Brighton and again evidenced his eye for goal with a terrific finish from outside of the area to rescue a point.
What more is there to say at this point? Trailing 1-0 in El Clásico and far from their best, Real Madrid played the ultimate trump card at their disposal: Jude Bellingham. Two goals from the Englishman turned the game on its head and continued his stunning start to life in Spain.
But Bellingham isn’t the only youngster shining this season. In fact, after his brace against Cagliari (less said about Frosinone’s late capitulation), Juventus loanee Soulé hit the headlines again. Bellingham is the only player who is younger to net at least five goals in Europe’s top five leagues.
What a career resurgence we are witnessing from the 31-year-old who continues to prove that news of his demise was greatly exaggerated. Isco has quickly won the hearts of Beticos, assisting the opener against Osasuna before scoring a 94th minute winner. He has won seven Man of the Match awards this season already!
Two goals and an assist in the 8-0 thrashing of nine-man Darmstadt saw the former Man City man equal his best Bundesliga scoring season with eight already – and it is only October. Thomas Tuchel is getting the best out of him.
The Gunners striker keeps being doubted as a viable Gabriel Jesus stand-in and he keeps proving people wrong in the Brazilian’s absence. He netted a first ever Premier League hat-trick (including a sensational third goal) in the win over Sheffield United and is now just one goal behind the Brazilian’s overall tally since his arrival from Man City.
And Nketiah wasn’t the only Englishman to take home the match ball over the weekend. Kane became the first Bundesliga player ever to net 11 goals in his first nine games as he plundered a hat-trick against Darmstadt – the highlight being that outrageous effort from inside his own half.