·29 September 2023
·29 September 2023
A busy midweek of domestic action had plenty of interesting results and storylines. Here are some of the biggest ones:
The 108th final of the US Open Cup attracted the attention of the entire world, as Lionel Messi’s new club Inter Miami were part of it.
As a result, though, their opponents Houston Dynamo almost seemed forgotten. They were participating in their first major final in five years towards the end of what has been a very positive season for them after finishing second-bottom in the West in 2022.
Their changes over the winter, including the appointment of head coach Ben Olsen, were clearly bearing fruit, and this was a golden opportunity to win material evidence of that.
Against a Miami side that lacked a couple of its stars including Messi, they produced a fantastic performance to come away as deserved winners.
We have reached the semi-final stage of the Copa Libertadores, so we are now being treated to some massive fixtures.
In the all-Brazilian semi-final, Fluminense and Internacional played out a thrilling 2-2 draw in the first leg as both sides seek to reach their first Copa Libertadores final in over a decade. Internacional have won it twice, but Fluminense are yet to get their hands on the coveted trophy.
The hosts got off to a better start in this match and took the lead within ten minutes thanks to Argentine talisman German Cano, but they suffered two setbacks just before half-time.
The first saw right-back Samuel Xavier sent off after picking up two yellow cards, soon after which Internacional equalised.
The hosts were on the back foot going into the second half and their day got even worse when Alan Patrick put Internacional in front, but Cano scored again later on to salvage a draw for Flu.
Fernando Diniz’s side have caught the eye of football fans around the world for their unique style of play, so they are now just a couple of matches away from cementing their legacy with a historic Copa Libertadores triumph.
The EFL Cup’s third round had a good few match-ups between Premier League sides, of which the biggest saw Newcastle United host Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s side have been foremost in the quadruple conversation in England, but achieving such a feat is incredibly difficult.
Having finally broken their Champions League duck last term, they may have felt that 2023/24 would be their best shot at such a record, but once again, it is not to be.
Both sides fielded a heavily-rotated XI in this midweek clash that was sandwiched in a pretty intense fixture schedule, so it was no surprise to see some youngsters get their debuts.
Equally unsurprising was the fact that Man City dominated proceedings thanks to their superior squad depth, but they failed to create much in the final third whereas Newcastle took advantage of the one brief period of domination they enjoyed to score the only goal of the match.
Man City will go another season without winning the quadruple, but they remain firmly in contention for a continental treble.
José Mourinho’s third-season syndrome is becoming an increasingly common theme in the teams he takes charge of, and the latest victims seem to be Roma.
The Portuguese head coach will certainly be fondly remembered for bringing the club their first continental trophy in over six decades in the form of the Europa Conference League a couple of seasons ago, but his work in the league has never been outstanding.
Roma finished sixth in the last two seasons meaning they only just held on to the continental qualification spots, and were quite clearly a level below the title contenders.
This time, they have got off to an absolutely horrific start that has left them down in 16th place with just one win in six matches.
That one win was a 7-0 thrashing of an Empoli side that recorded the worst-ever start to a Serie A season, so that cannot be read into too much.
Losing to relegation contenders like Hellas Verona and Genoa is very disappointing, but with similar sides coming up in their fixture list, Roma might yet have a chance to turn things around a little bit.
This was quite a week in Austria with an early round of cup action that produced some interesting stories.
These included Regionalliga side Union Gurten taking Bundesliga giants Rapid Wien to extra time before a power outage and floodlight failure killed their momentum.
However, the biggest story by far was the first-ever Salzburg derby. Austria Salzburg’s rivalry with RB Salzburg is no ordinary local feud but a defiant existential battle.
The original Austria Salzburg was taken over by the Red Bull group in 2005, who immediately proceeded to completely erase all traces of the club’s rich history and strong identity to rebrand it as Red Bull Salzburg.
Naturally, this did not go down well with the fans, but their new owners did not seem to care much about them.
They founded a new club called Austria Salzburg that started life in the regional seventh tier, from where they quickly climbed up to the third tier. That seems to be their ceiling, as they have spent the last four full seasons there.
They were no match for the most dominant team the Austrian Bundesliga has ever seen, but they put together a spirited display backed by their brilliant fans who showed that a team can be erased, but a club can never be destroyed.
Stats courtesy Transfermarkt, Opta via FotMob and Soccerment via xvalue.