Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said he was concerned about the team’s away form after they were comprehensively beaten 2-0 by promoted Granada on Saturday and he took full responsibility for the club’s worst start to a La Liga season in 25 years.
Granada got off to a flying start when Ramon Azeez headed them in front in the second minute while Alvaro Vadillo scored from the penalty spot midway through the second half to seal the points, taking the Andalusian minnows to the top of the league.
“I’m worried because away from home we’re not getting good results. No wins from four away games this season is a clear symptom that we are not in a very good situation,” Valverde told reporters.
“Some of our players joined the squad late but we did not play well today and we have not been playing well away from home lately. We dominated the play but couldn’t manage to create many chances and we never looked like getting back into the game.”
Valverde left all-time top scorer Lionel Messi out of the starting line-up as the Argentine is still not fully fit after recovering from a calf injury he sustained in August which has prevented him from starting any games.
The coach called on his captain at halftime along with 16-year-old Ansu Fati, who had scored and provided an assist on his full debut in last week’s 5-2 drubbing of Valencia, but neither player was able to bring the team to life.
Barca are seventh in the table on seven points, their lowest total after five games since the 1994/95 campaign. They have not won an away game in any competition since April.
Valverde also said he was concerned about Barca’s poor defence as he was reminded they were the only team in La Liga along with Real Betis to have conceded nine goals this season, and recognised that as coach he was to blame for their plight.
“It’s clearly not a very good statistic for us and not in line with what we have been doing in the last few years,” he said.
“The players are the actors, but in the end the coach is the one who is responsible for what happens. You can always lose a game but when you do you should feel that you deserved to win but that was not the case today.”
Ramsey and Ronaldo earn Juventus nervy win over Verona
Aaron Ramsey struck on his first start for Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed the winner from the penalty spot as the champions came from behind to beat Hellas Verona 2-1 at the Juventus Stadium on Saturday.
With league leaders Inter Milan not in action until their derby clash with AC Milan later on Saturday, Juventus were looking to return to the top of Serie A, having drawn against Fiorentina last time out.
Juventus, who let slip a two-goal lead in their draw with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League in midweek, fell behind when Miguel Veloso found the top corner in the 20th minute after the visitors had missed an earlier penalty.
However, Ramsey equalised 11 minutes later with a shot that was deflected off Koray Gunter and an unfortunate day for the German defender continued, four minutes after the break, when he brought down Juan Cuadrado for a penalty which Ronaldo tucked away.
Verona came close to a leveller in the 89th minute. Gianluigi Buffon did well to keep out a Darko Lazovic effort and then Veloso’s follow-up struck the woodwork.
Marash Kumbulla was sent off late on for the visitors for a second yellow card after a foul on Blaise Matuidi.
While Juve boss Maurizio Sarri was pleased with the three points after the midweek disappointment in Europe, he was frank about the state of his side after a mediocre display.
“This is a team under construction and you can tell,” said the former Napoli and Chelsea manager.
“Perhaps there was some mental fatigue, because you need to immediately recharge the batteries a couple of days later. With a lot of changes, you lose some balance and that’s what we saw today, as we played in fits and starts,” he added.
Verona coach Ivan Juric felt his team could easily have gone home with something from the game.
“We produced a nice performance but feel a little bitter because we deserved more,” he said.
“We created plenty of chances and allowed Juve very little in attack.”
Lewandowski gets double and equals record as Bayern crush Cologne
Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski scored twice to equal a 51-year-old record as champions Bayern Munich demolished Cologne 4-0 on Saturday to move up to second place in the standings.
Unbeaten Leipzig stayed top of the table on 13 points, two ahead of Bayern, after beating Werder Bremen 3-0 for their fourth win in five games.
Poland striker Lewandowski grabbed Bayern’s first two goals and, after Cologne’s Kingsley Ehizibue was sent off, Philippe Coutinho converted a penalty to make it 3-0 and Ivan Perisic completed the rout with a low shot.
Lewandowski, who has been Bundesliga top scorer four times in the last six seasons, has netted nine times in the opening five league matches, equalling a record set by Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Peter Mayer in the 1967-68 season.
He grabbed Saturday’s first goal after three minutes to equal a club record set by Carsten Jancker in the 2000-01 campaign of scoring in each of the opening five matches of the season.
Lewandowski added another straight after the restart and the striker has now scored 11 goals out of Bayern’s 18 in total in all competitions this season.
Coutinho made sure of the three points from the penalty spot and the Brazilian set up Perisic with a fine through ball for the fourth to complete a winning week for Bayern after their 3-0 Champions League group victory over Red Star Belgrade.
“Four-nil sounds like a big score but we could have added one or two more,” said Bayern coach Niko Kovac. “Seven goals this week is something we can build on.
“We delivered a good performance today, especially after having only 72 hours to recover from Wednesday.”
Leipzig had Bremen on the back foot from the start and Willi Orban headed in for the lead from a corner in the 13th minute. Marcel Sabitzer doubled it in the 35th with a fine free kick.
Inter maintain perfect start with derby win over Milan
Serie A leaders Inter Milan defeated city rivals AC Milan 2-0 at the San Siro stadium on Saturday to maintain their 100 per cent start to the campaign.
Second-half goals from Marcelo Brozovic and Romelu Lukaku secured the win for Inter who deserved their victory and could have made the result even worse for Marco Giampaolo’s side in the final stages.
After the disappointment of a 1-1 draw at home to Slavia Prague in the Champions League on Tuesday, Inter delivered a performance that will raise hopes of a serious bid for a first ‘scudetto’ in 10 years.
For coach Antonio Conte, in his first season at the club, the derby victory was a sign that his approach is beginning to work.
“It’s a derby and those are always special games, never easy to predict, especially when both teams are so prestigious as Inter and Milan,” Conte said.
“The lads played a good game in every aspect. We were coming off a performance in the Champions League that left a bitter taste in the mouth and perhaps that fired us up even more to go into the derby in the right way.
“It’s a deserved victory, I am happy for our fans, because the derby is always the derby.”
Inter, who are now unbeaten in the last seven league clashes with Milan, grabbed the lead thanks to a deflected strike from Brozovic in the 49th minute.
A quick free kick from Stefano Sensi found Brozovic on the edge of the box and his low drive took a huge deflection off Rafael Leao and beat the wrong-footed Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
The assistant flagged Lautaro Martinez offside but a VAR review ruled that he was not interfering with play.
It was the third time that VAR had been used in the game — a 23rd-minute effort from Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu was ruled out for handball by Franck Kessie and then Inter’s Lautaro Martinez had his tap-in disallowed for offside after Danilo D’Ambrosio’s bicycle kicked had been parried out.
Lukaku made sure of the win with a 78th-minute glancing header from a Nicolo Barella cross from the left for his third goal since his move from Manchester United.
Inter, who went close to a third when Matteo Poltano clipped the bar and then Andrea Candreva hit the post, have 12 points from four games, two more than defending champions Juventus, who earlier beat Verona 2-1.
Giampaolo said Milan, who have two wins from their opening four games, had shown their inexperience.