European soccer is back, with the English Premier League, Spanish LaLiga, and French Ligue 1 all beginning this weekend. We saw Tottenham's first league game with manager Ange Postcoglou and without Harry Kane, and Sunday also brought a feisty Chelsea vs. Liverpool clash at Stamford Bridge.
So let's get into it: with a full menu of games, here are your talking points, great goals and all the news from a wonderful Saturday in the big European leagues.
The Sunday lead: Caicedo looms over Chelsea-Liverpool draw
Sunday's marquee clash between two of the Premier League's more volatile teams ended in yet another draw as Liverpool couldn't hold a lead at Chelsea and ended up playing much of the second half for a point rather than seeking all three. It was the seventh consecutive draw between them -- the longest such streak in their head-to-head history -- and both sides will take the positives from an enthralling and frustrating afternoon.
For Liverpool, there is a familiar sense of letting early industry give way to passivity and a final 20 minutes in which they sat deeper and deeper in a bid to run out the clock. Chelsea, meanwhile, will be encouraged by how a team in progress -- goalkeeper Robert Sánchez, defender Axel Disasi and forward Nicolas Jackson all made their full debuts in the starting XI, with defender Malo Gusto and midfielder Lesley Ugochukwu enjoying cameos off the bench -- galvanized after a wobbly start to really take the game to the Reds.
Luis Díaz impressed for the visitors as did new midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, who relished the space between Chelsea's three center-backs and had room to drive at goal. A brilliant end-to-end move by Liverpool resulted in the opening goal, with Szoboszlai and Mohamed Salah combining for Diaz to slide a shot past Sanchez at the far post. Yet the Reds' largely left their clinical finishing on the team bus, with 13 shots yielding one goal even though Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk grazed the crossbar with long-range efforts.
Nicolas Jackson also suffered from finishers' angst up front for Chelsea, with several surging runs forcing strong one-on-one saves from Allison, who is dependable as ever between the posts for Liverpool. It was Disasi who leveled for Chelsea 10 minutes before half-time, popping up in the right spot to nod home from close-range after Liverpool failed to clear a set-piece and Ben Chilwell's header found the former Monaco center-back in space.
The 1-1 draw -- both sides had goals disallowed for offside, with Salah and Chilwell frustrated -- will not disappoint fans of either side, though it was clear just how much these teams still have to do. At least Chelsea received encouraging news late Sunday after sources told ESPN that Brighton midfielder Moisés Caicedo chose the Blues over Liverpool in what is expected to be a British transfer record fee of £115 million ($146m). -- James Tyler
News of the day
Chelsea have agreed on a British transfer record deal of £115 million ($146m) for Brighton midfielder Moisés Caicedo, sources have told ESPN. The 21-year-old is expected to undergo a medical on Monday and sign an eight-year deal in a transfer that will surpass the previous highest figure of £105.8m the Blues paid Benfica for Enzo Fernández back in January.
Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar is close to agreeing to personal terms with Al Hilal and completing a move to the Saudi Pro League, sources told ESPN. PSG want €80 million ($88 million) for the 31-year-old, but negotiations between the clubs are progressing well, sources said.
Sticking with PSG, it looks like the impasse between Kylian Mbappé and the club could be drawing to a close. Sources told ESPN that both sides are in talks to extend his contract following a prolonged standoff that saw him miss all of preseason tour of Asia and the opening fixture of the Ligue 1 campaign.
Eder Militao became the second Real Madrid player to suffer an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury this week, after goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, and the LaLiga club said on Sunday that the defender would require surgery.
James Olley reports from the Emirates as Arsenal beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 with goals from Edward Nketiah and Bukayo Saka.
Sunday talking points around the leagues
Xavi gets red card in Barça's feisty Getafe draw
Where to start!? There were no goals as Barcelona kicked off their defence of the LaLiga title with a frustrating and feisty goalless draw at Getafe, but there was no shortage of incidents. Both sides ended the game with 10 men, Barca coach Xavi Hernandez was also sent off and the Catalan side were denied a late penalty in 15 minutes of second half stoppage time.
With night time temperatures topping 30 degrees Celisus (high 80s in Farenheit) in Madrid, Jose Bordalas' Getafe side got into Barca from the start, with defender Damián Suárez the chief villain with a couple of off-the-ball body checks on Alejandro Balde and Ilkay Gündogan. Rather than rise above the home side's antics, some Barca players became embroiled in off the ball spats.
After first colliding with Carles Aleñá and earning a booking, Raphinha was shown a straight red card for an elbow toward the end of the first half. The Brazilian had just started to come into the game, drawing a save from David Soria, and will now miss a string of matches just as Ousmane Dembélé's switch to Paris Saint-Germain had handed him an opportunity to make the right flank his own.
Jaime Mata was then dismissed for a second yellow shortly after the break, evening the affair up at 10 vs. 10, but Barca, despite having the ball, could not break through Getafe. Frustrated, Xavi was later sent off for his complaints about the officiating, standing in the tunnel for several minutes before being relocated in the analysts' box for a frenetic ending.
Juan Iglesias' kick on Ronald Araújo, deep into stoppage time -- the total game time was around 115 minutes in the end -- looked certain to be given as a penalty when the referee went to review the challenge on the pitch side monitor. However, he deemed Gavi had handled the ball just before the foul and did not point to the spot.
It meant a fourth successive game without a win at Getafe for Barca and a third successive goalless draw at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez. The only positive is that last season's title winning campaign also began with a 0-0 draw, at home to Rayo Vallecano. -- Sam Marsden
Postecoglou kicks off Tottenham's post-Kane era with solid result
It's been a summer of rebirth so far for Spurs, with a new manager (Ange Postcoglou), a new central defender (Micky van de Ven), a new goalkeeper (Guglielmo Vicario, in place of the injured Hugo Lloris), a new captain (Heung-min Son), a new playmaker in midfield (James Maddison) and a new face at No. 9 as Richarlison took the mantle from the departed Harry Kane.
And yet, so much of Sunday's early league game felt familiar, as Spurs scored early at Brentford and then had to come from behind to seal an enthralling 2-2 draw.
Whatever your thoughts on the project that former Celtic and Australia national team manager Postecoglou is building, it's clear that this is a result they can build on over the coming weeks, especially if they figure out a long-term solution up front.
Maddison in particular showed that he can keep this team moving forward as the new creative force, showing the craft and vision that Spurs will need in Kane's absence. It took the former Leicester midfielder barely 10 minutes to grab his first PL assist for his new team, too, curling a brilliant set-piece into the six-yard box that Cristian Romero couldn't miss, steering it beyond Bees' keeper Mark Flekken with his face from close range.
After a lengthy VAR review to ensure Romero was onside, he was withdrawn for a suspected concussion and Brentford took advantage, leveling 15 minutes later from the penalty spot when Son was judged to have tripped Matthias Jensen. Bryan Mbeumo calmly sent Vicario the wrong way for the equalizer and 10 minutes beyond that, the Bees took the lead as Rico Henry surged beyond Emerson Royal and squared it for Yoane Wissa, who scooped it (with a deflection) beyond a helpless Vicario.
Spurs showed plenty of industry to level before half-time, with Royal finishing from the edge of the box after Maddison's pass broke his way, and it would finish level despite both sides squandering chances in the second half. With two-thirds of the ball and a surprising resilience after going 2-1 down, the future is perhaps bright for Spurs if Postecoglou can continue to galvanize this squad into something greater than the sum of its parts. They'll need that, too, particularly if a high-caliber alternative isn't sourced and signed before the start of September. -- James Tyler
Benitez beaten back in Spain return
Rafa Benitez's return to Spain began in disappointing fashion as his Celta Vigo side lost 2-0 at home to Osasuna. Rubén García and Moi Gómez struck in each half to ensure the points returned to Pamplona and reveal the scale of the task facing Benitez in Vigo.
Benitez twice won LaLiga with Valencia in 2002 and 2004 and fleetingly coached Real Madrid in the 2015-16 season, but the objectives with Celta will be much more modest. Los Celestes only stayed up on the final day of the campaign last time round and, if they can't win their home games, a long season could await them.
However, with Benitez in charge they will be looking to move up the table eventually. Talisman Iago Aspas remains at the club, as does young midfielder Gabri Veiga, who has been linked with half of Europe this summer. There is talent at the club. -- Marsden
The Saturday lead: Olmo overshadows Kane's Bayern bow
On the day that Bayern Munich presented Harry Kane as their blockbuster signing, the stage was set for the longtime England captain to make his debut at the Allianz Arena in the German Supercup against last season's German Cup winners, RB Leipzig. The man who stole the show, though, was Leipzig playmaker Dani Olmo, who scored all three goals in the Red Bull-backed club's 3-0 win over Bayern.
With Dominik Szoboszlai and Christopher Nkunku having left for Liverpool and Chelsea, respectively, Olmo more than ever is the creative mastermind of the team. The game on Saturday showed once again that the Spain international can be a clinical goal scorer and make his presence felt everywhere on the pitch. Olmo's endurance and energy level is almost unparalleled in European football, and no one from Bayern was able to contain the 25-year-old until Leipzig manager Marco Rose subbed him off in the 78th minute.
Fifteen minutes before Olmo exited stage left, Kane stepped into the spotlight, when Thomas Tuchel brought him to replace Mathys Tel. It was clear from the minute Kane entered that his new teammates wanted to get him involved.
Kingsley Coman tried to find the former Tottenham Hotspur talisman with several cross-field passes, but on such short notice, there was little chemistry between Kane and the rest of Bayern's attack. It didn't help that the entire team seemed stunned by the Olmo show.
As second rate as the Supercup title is in Germany, Leipzig should be proud of their performance. Despite losing Szoboszlai, Nkunku and Josko Gvardiol, this newly assembled team -- particularly the midfield with Olmo and the recently arrived Xavi Simons and Nicolas Seiwald -- had a promising performance against the reigning champions.
Meanwhile, while some observers expected that Kane would win his first trophy on his first day with Bayern, after 10 silverware-less seasons with Spurs, he remains without one. For now. -- Constantin Eckner
Saturday talking points around the leagues
Arsenal off to winning start, but improvements needed
LONDON -- Arsenal started their attempt to prove last season's Premier League title challenge was no fluke with a 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest. The performance was a mixed bag, though. There were encouraging signs from a tactical tweak which saw midfielder Thomas Partey start at right-back -- something Mikel Arteta first tried against the same opposition when losing at Forest in May, but this time with new £105m signing Declan Rice starting at the base of midfield. Partey stepped into central areas giving Rice more license to go forward and this overload helped Arsenal dominate possession, ending with 78 per cent of the ball.
It did not lead to increased creativity, however, as an xG of 0.80 indicated -- despite spending extended periods chasing play, Forest finished with an xG of 1.09. The Gunners' goals owed much to flashes of individual quality: Gabriel Martinelli's sumptuous Cruyff turn for Eddie Nketiah's opener and Bukayo Saka's stunning 20-yard strike which ultimately earned them three points. The second half will be something of a concern given they struggled to kill the game off and conceded on the counter-attack as Taiwo Awoniyi converted in the 81st-minute following Anthony Elanga's lungbusting run.
Jude Bellingham has a dream start at Real Madrid as he tallies his first goal off a corner kick.
A needlessly frantic finale followed but Arsenal held on for a result marred slightly by a potentially worrying injury for Jurrien Timber, whose competitive debut ended in the 50th-minute with a knee problem. Ultimately, Arsenal fans went home happy but not before a ticketing farce delayed kick-off by 30 minutes. The club have implemented a new digital ticketing system this season but it went down in the build-up to the planned start time, meaning thousands of fans were effectively locked outside the ground. This was a positive start overall for Arsenal but there are things to improve on and off the pitch. -- James Olley
Bellingham scores, fits right in on Real Madrid debut
Some players are intimidated by the Real Madrid shirt, cowed by the pressure at the world's most demanding football club. Not Jude Bellingham, who has looked a Madrid player from the moment he walked in the door at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The England midfielder's performance in a 2-0 win at Athletic Club on Saturday -- his competitive Madrid debut, away at a hostile San Mames -- was outrageously good. It was no surprise when Bellingham scored in the 36th minute, adding Madrid's second goal with a deceptively difficult finish, guiding his shot into the ground before it bounced up and over goalkeeper Unai Simón. An exhilarating second-half run, picking up the ball inside his own half before beating three defenders, bursting forward and single-handedly creating a goal-scoring opportunity, was a showcase for his rare mix of elite physical and technical attributes.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti picked a midfield quartet of Aurélien Tchouaméni, Eduardo Camavinga, Federico Valverde and Bellingham in Bilbao. All four offer non-stop running and off-the-ball energy, as well as plenty of quality in possession, with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric ready to contribute off the bench.
There are other, legitimate worries for Madrid -- Courtois' ACL tear is a major setback, defender Éder Militão limped off here with what looked like another potentially serious injury, and there are doubts as to whether they'll score enough goals if Mbappé doesn't end up arriving before deadline day -- but their stacked midfield isn't one of them. -- Alex Kirkland
PSG are a work in progress
No Lionel Messi (in Miami), no Neymar (has a virus), no Mbappé (in exile) and lots of problems for Paris Saint-Germain, as the Luis Enrique era began with an infuriating, inexplicable 0-0 home draw with Lorient on Saturday. A whopping 20 shots yielded no goals as it became clear just what a work in progress PSG suddenly are in 2023.
Goncalo Ramos (22 years old), Lee Kang-In (22) and Marco Asensio formed a new-look attacking trident and were lively if unsuccessful around goal. Ramos and Lee both brought out the best from Lorient keeper Yvon Mvogo in either half, with the Switzerland international equal to anything. He palmed away a curling Ramos effort from nestling in the top corner after just eight minutes, was equal to a Fabián Ruiz attempt with 15 minutes remaining, and smothered a Carlos Soler shot through a crowded area in injury time. Achraf Hakimi and Vitinha should have done better with second-half efforts that grazed the woodwork, but Lorient clung on despite just 20% of the ball all afternoon long.
PSG won't be concerned about the result in the grand scheme of things -- they generated chances, it's Ligue 1 and they don't really need to try until February or so -- but the off-field issues with Mbappe (who is being kept away from the squad due to constant transfer links with Real Madrid) and Neymar (who is seemingly surplus to requirements) need to be resolved in order for this team to truly move forward. -- James Tyler
Luton's Premier League debut
Luton Town's first appearance in English football's top-flight for 31 years ended in the sort of scoreline that many predicted beforehand and will raise fears a long season lies ahead. The Hatters have never played in the Premier League -- their previous appearance came in 1992, a year before the division was formed -- and their stay could be a short one if Saturday's 4-1 defeat at Brighton is any gauge of what is to come. There were encouraging signs, at least in the way they defended resolutely for long periods and boss Rob Edwards will be proud his team stayed in the game until the final five minutes as Carlton Morris' 81st-minute penalty cut Brighton's lead to 2-1.
However, although Brighton have ripped apart some of the best teams at Amex Stadium in recent times, it is a measure of the gulf in class that the home side enjoyed 71 per cent possession and registered 27 shots, 12 of which were on target. And that authoritative display came without Alexis Mac Allister -- sold earlier in the summer to Liverpool -- and Moisés Caicedo, who could join him on Merseyside or move to Chelsea if they match the Reds' £111m offer. João Pedro and Simon Adingra marked their debuts with goals in a win Brighton thoroughly deserved. Luton made them work hard for it but doubts the league's newcomers -- boasting five debutants here -- possess sufficient quality to thrive in the Premier League were only reinforced by events on the south coast. -- Olley
Valencia kids show relegation no sure thing
Valencia are many LaLiga watchers' picks for relegation candidates this season, after another summer that has seen the squad weakened -- with Yunus Musah and Edinson Cavani leaving, and Samuel Lino's loan coming to an end -- and few new recruits coming in. Coach Ruben Baraja has been vocal about the need for reinforcements.
In the meantime, though, he's been forced to rely on the same youngsters who saved Valencia last season, academy products who Baraja bravely brought into the side in a gamble that paid off when they avoided the drop on the last day of the campaign.
On Friday, it was midfielder Javi Guerra, 20, who scored the decisive 88th-minute goal in a 2-1 win at Sevilla. He was a second-half substitute, while the starting lineup also included Diego López (21) and Fran Pérez (20), with Pablo Gozalbez (22) and Jesús Vázquez (20) also introduced off the bench.
This reliance on homegrown talent is a necessity more than a choice, given the limited squad at Baraja's disposal, but Guerra in particular looks to be a serious player in the making. His previous career highlight was scoring a crucial 90th-minute winner against relegation rivals Real Valladolid in April. Now he's got another for his collection, a well-taken near-post finish that gave Valencia all three points at the Sanchez Pizjuan.
Baraja will just be hoping that an opening day win won't be taken by absentee owner Peter Lim as a signal that no signings are needed, after all. -- Kirkland
NFL legend Tom Brady recently announced his co-ownership of Championship club Birmingham City, and flew in on Saturday to watch his team defeat Leeds United 1-0 on their first home match of the season. On his way to the match, Brady posted on X "Any plans before kick off guys?"
His plans included a cameo at a pub, where he surprised BCFC fans, who will hope their club can enjoy a bit of the success that Brady achieved as an all-time NFL great.
Tom Brady at a pub in Birmingham ahead of BCFC's game against Leeds is something I never thought I'd write pic.twitter.com/H5M8phzBhw— Luis Miguel Echegaray (@lmechegaray) August 12, 2023