This week’s 4 biggest takeaways from Europe: Alonso’s Leverkusen thump Bayern, Bellingham’s injury & more

    It was a weekend of top-of-the-table clashes across Europe.

    Bayer Leverkusen faced off against reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich (and thumped them 3-0), and Real Madrid squared off La Liga’s surprise package Girona (and thumped them 4-0).

    After all that fun, here’s all the biggest talking points from around the continent.

    BundesligaBayer 04 Leverkusen v FC Bayern Munchen

    Top team / ANP/GettyImages

    Last season, Napoli were the darlings of Europe, playing a thoroughly entertaining brand of football en route to a historic league title triumph.

    This season, Bayer Leverkusen have taken up that mantle.

    Xabi Alonso’s side have been an utter joy to watch throughout the 2023/24 campaign, and on Saturday they continued their fine form by putting title rivals Bayern Munich to the sword at the Bay Arena – winning 3-0 thanks to goals from Alex Grimaldo, Jeremie Frimpong and Josip Stanisic.

    Thomas Tuchel

    It’s not going well / Rene Nijhuis/MB Media/GettyImages

    While Leverkusen have been notably brilliant, Bayern Munich have also been notably awful of late too.

    The 3-0 defeat at the weekend was yet another off-colour outing for a Bayern team who currently look devoid of an identity.

    Harry Kane has been getting plenty of stick for his performance on Saturday, but Bayern’s issues lie squarely at the feet of Thomas Tuchel.

    The ex-Chelsea boss’ constant tinkering with formations and personnel has led to one of the most talented squads of players in Europe on paper being a rather average one in practice.

    Jude Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga

    Another injury / Angel Martinez/GettyImages

    Jude Bellingham, Thibaut Courtois, Vinicius Junior, Eder Militao, Antonio Rudiger, Eduardo Camavinga, Nacho Fernandez, David Alaba, Arda Guler, Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy.

    That’s a list of players that Real Madrid have been without at some point this season due to a variety of ailments.

    On Saturday, Madrid were without the services of Courtois, Militao, Alaba, Nacho and Rudiger, and Bellingham hobbled off in the 57th minute with an injury, yet Los Blancos still managed to thump their closest La Liga title rivals Girona.

    Despite being seemingly snakebitten this season, Madrid have managed to still be bloody fantastic week in, week out. It’s mightily impressive.

    Sergio Ruiz

    Disastrous / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

    That sub-heading sounds hyperbolic but it’s actually not.

    Barcelona‘s disappointing 3-3 draw with Granada was the fifth time in 2024 that Xavi Hernandez’s side have conceded three or more goals in a game, taking their tally of goals conceded for the calendar year to 23 already.

    That’s more than any other club in Europe’s top five leagues have conceded in 2024; even more than West Ham, who conceded six on Sunday.


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