European soccer is back in full force, with the English Premier League, Spanish LaLiga, Serie A, Bundesliga and French Ligue 1 all underway. Sunday's action saw Chelsea continue to struggle with its high-priced squad, Barcelona get back on track and Juventus look like a dominant force.
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 weekend in the big European leagues.
The Sunday lead: Barça break in new temporary home
After a goalless draw away at Getafe last weekend, another stalemate looked on the cards until Pedri finally broke the deadlock in the 83rd minute, latching onto an Ilkay Gündogan pass. Barça had waited 173 minutes for their first goal of the '23-24 campaign, but would wait just 12 minutes for their next. Substitute Ferran Torres put the icing on the win in stoppage time.
Prior to that -- in front of a crowd of just under 40,000 at Olympic Stadium in Montjuic, where Barça will play while Spotify Camp Nou is being redeveloped -- Barça had been frustrated by their visitors. When they did get through, Jeremias Ledesma denied them. The Cadiz goalkeeper made good saves in the first half from Jules Koundé and Lamine Yamal, the 16-year-old winger making his first start for the club. Another stop followed after the break from Ez Abde.
For a period, it looked like Barça had run out of ideas despite throwing on attackers in Torres, Abde and Ansu Fati. Meanwhile, Cadiz were threatening to spoil Barça's home opener. Roger was denied by Marc-André ter Stegen after robbing the ball from Alejandro Balde, while the lively Chris Ramos fired just wide after a brilliant solo run.
Barça finally found what they were looking for, though, when Gundogan, signed to add creativity in the final third, threaded the pass that unlocked the Cadiz backline. Pedri slid the ball under Ledesma and Torres, with a well-taken finish, sealed the three points in stoppage time.
The celebrations were tinted with relief more than anything and Xavi Hernandez, who was serving the first of a two-game touchline ban, will continue to agitate for further reinforcements before the transfer window closes. He wants a right-back and either another midfielder or a forward. -- Sam Marsden
Sunday talking points around the leagues
Money can't buy Chelsea a win ... for now
Chelsea entered Sunday's game fresh off spending £173 million on midfielders (including a British-record signing of Moisés Caicedo from Brighton for £115m and Romeo Lavia from Southampton for what could reach £58m) but the Blues remain winless two games into the season.
Chelsea actually played pretty well at London Stadium, dominating the ball and creating a series of first-half chances they really should have taken, but that profligacy in front of goal has been a familiar issue for Chelsea in recent seasons and so it proved again.
The game largely turned on Enzo Fernández's missed 43rd-minute penalty with the scores level at 1-1. Having been pegged back by Carney Chukwuemeka's first senior goal following Nayef Aguerd's seventh-minute header, West Ham were firmly on the back foot at that point, but Michail Antonio's brilliantly taken 53rd-minute goal gave them a lead they could hang on to after Aguerd was deservedly sent off for a second yellow card offence 23 minutes from the end.
Chelsea struggled to make that numerical advantage count. In fact, West Ham were more threatening and struck again in stoppage time as Caicedo marked his debut by conceding a penalty converted by Lucas Paquetá. That goal prompted the away end to exit en masse.
The problem is they've seen this all before: Chelsea scored just 38 Premier League goals last season and the year before had only 58 (compared to champions Manchester City's 83). Now Mauricio Pochettino knows Chelsea's travails in front of goal are his problem to solve. -- James Olley
Villa bounce back despite Coutinho injury as European trek begin
After Aston Villa's disastrous performance against Newcastle United last week -- their worst campaign opener in 40 years -- Unai Emery's team delivered an impressive display in their home debut, adding more misery toward Everton.
Goals from John McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Leon Bailey and 19-year-old Jhon Durán (his first for the club) combined for an emphatic 4-0 win, making it eight straight home victories (a club record in the league) without conceding a goal from open play.
One of Emery's main objectives since his arrival has been to make Villa Park a fortress, and this is specifically important this season, given their schedule and a hopeful role in the Europa Conference League, which kicks off on Wednesday when they visit Scottish side Hibernian in the first leg of the playoff round.
The fortress solidified on Sunday against the Toffees as Villa governed the game throughout. Pau Torres -- replacing the injured Tyrone Mings -- looked calm and collected in defense, Lucas Digne kept giving peaches of crosses, Boubacar Kamara bullied the midfield and Moussa Diaby continued on his impressive start with the team despite not scoring.
It didn't come without worries as Philippe Coutinho once again suffered a setback after coming on in the second half. The Brazilian dropped to the pitch as he grabbed his hamstring, with tears in eyes and needing assistance. This is a trending worry for many players around the league, given the excess of action they have to play, but injuries have plagued Coutinho for a while now.
As for Villa, that's now eight first-team players sidelined by injuries. At least they have new signing Nicolò Zaniolo waiting to make his debut.
But Emery can't dwell on availability. It's all about who's here and what's next, with the trip to Hibs in three days' time.
The Newcastle loss was an anomaly. Sunday's victory seems more like Emery's Aston Villa. -- Luis Miguel Echegaray
Are Atletico in store for an up-and-down season?
Atletico Madrid's task this season is simple: avoid dropping unnecessary points in the first half of the campaign and keep pace with Barcelona and Real Madrid for long enough to ensure that LaLiga is a proper three-horse race come the new year. Last season's outstanding form from January to May -- when Atletico were the best team in Spain, picking up more points than champions Barca -- counted for nothing because Atletico had left themselves too much ground to make up.
A 3-1 home win over Granada on opening weekend was encouraging, but Sunday's 0-0 draw at top-four contenders Real Betis was a more frustrating affair. Atletico failed to muster a shot on target until Mario Hermoso's header was tipped over the bar by Betis goalkeeper Rui Silva midway through the second half and ended with an xG of just 0.38.
Atletico manager Diego Simeone kept pushing for a win, introducing Álvaro Morata -- who went close in added time -- and the talented Samuel Lino and Rodrigo Riquelme, but there was no breakthrough. Still, a draw away at Betis is no disaster.
For the home side, the rehabilitated Isco caught the eye with a 98.4% pass completion rate -- the most of any starter -- and two chances created. It's still early, but there are signs the former Real Madrid and Spain playmaker might have got his mojo back. -- Alex Kirkland
Juventus rejuvenated behind Chiesa, Vlahovic
Coming into the new Serie A season, there was plenty of talk of whether Napoli could repeat as champions. Or if either Internazionale or AC Milan would continue recent success and bring the Scudetto back to the San Siro. The one traditional powerhouse missing in the conversation? That would be Juventus.
The Bianconeri entered this season in flux after being expelled from European competition because of a false accounting case, the controversial exit of Juan Cuadrado to rivals Inter, and manager Massimiliano Allegri repeatedly linked with a move from Turin.
Juve's season will therefore go the direction of key veterans -- three of whom found the net in Sunday's opening 3-0 win over Udinese. Federico Chiesa scored within the opening minutes, Dusan Vlahovic converted a penalty in the 20th minute, and Adrien Rabiot effectively sealed the game with a first-half stoppage goal.
All three players were rumored with summer transfers (with Vlahovic linked with Chelsea in mulled swap deal for Romelu Lukaku), so the win was a good step for a team that can just focus on the league and the Coppa Italia this season. It might be too much ask for a Serie A title, but a top-four finish is definitely an expectation.
For USMNT fans: Timothy Weah (Juve's lone summer signing) got his first start at wing-back and continued to look sharp as he did during the preseason. He was subbed off in the second half by fellow USMNT teammate Weston McKennie, who is working his way back in Allegri's graces and rotation. -- Danny Guerra
News of the day
Pep Guardiola said he asked a Manchester City fan to take his place on the touchline during the 1-0 victory over Newcastle United after being criticised for not making any substitutions. Guardiola gestured to a supporter near the City bench to replace him as manager following a verbal confrontation. Guardiola revealed afterward it was because of his decision not to make any substitutions, the first time he has failed to make a single change in a Premier League game since May 2022. "He asked me to make the substitutions, one player out and one in, and I asked him which one, I didn't know it," said Guardiola.
United States captain Tyler Adams is returning to the Premier League after completing a move from Leeds United to Bournemouth. Adams signed a five-year deal with Bournemouth, the club confirmed on Saturday, after a one-year stint at Leeds that ended with him having hamstring surgery in March and the team being relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2022-23 season.
It was an eventful evening for a trio of ex-Barcelona stars as MLS side Inter Miami won the Leagues Cup on Saturday over Nashville SC. It's been a whirlwind summer for Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba as former Camp Nou teammates helped Inter Miami its first ever trophy. Miami co-owner David Beckham called his side's penalty shootout triumph "a very special night."
And finally ...
The Bundesliga scoring race this season will involve players like Bayern Munich's Harry Kane and Eintracht Frankfurt's Randal Kolo Muani (who both scored this weekend), but the top of the Torjägerkanone list right now is Union Berlin's Kevin Behrens.
It's hats off for the 32-year-old Behrens after his hat trick in Sunday's 4-1 win over Mainz 05 in game that also saw the losing side miss two penalties. But the Berliners were boosted by the performance of Behrens, who needed less than a minute to get on the scoreline. He added another eight minutes later and then another in the 70th minute.
In the wake of a stellar season that saw them finish in fourth place and book a Champions League group stage spot, Union Berlin loaded up on young attackers (David Datro Fofana, Brenden Aaronson, Benedict Hollerbach, Lucas Tousart, Mikkel Kaufmann), so it's an unexpectedly welcome surprise to see a veteran shine in the curtain raiser.
And to top off his Man of the Match performance, Behrens simply biked home after his stellar game!
Drei Buden und mit dem Fahrrad nach Hause: Kevin Behrens pic.twitter.com/OJWdfcAjbg— 1. FC Union Berlin (@fcunion) August 20, 2023
The Saturday lead: Foden steps up for De Bruyne to ease Man City's fears
Pep Guardiola admitted at his prematch news conference he was concerned that Newcastle might be able to take advantage of a Manchester City team tired after a midweek trip to Athens for the Super Cup and missing key players, but he didn't need to worry.
Newcastle have never won a Premier League game at the Etihad Stadium, and after Julián Álvarez's first-half goal earned City a 1-0 win Saturday, they have now lost on each of their past 15 visits. Their last away win was at Maine Road in 2000 when Alan Shearer, now 53, scored the winner.
Speaking ahead of the game, Guardiola gave the sense that City, without Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and John Stones, might be in a vulnerable moment, but instead they passed an early-season test against one of the best teams in the league. Phil Foden was excellent playing in a sort of inside-right position and set up the first goal for Julian Alvarez with a silky first touch and angled pass.
Foden could barely get a game at the end of last season but with De Bruyne ruled out until possibly January or February, there is a chance for the 23-year-old to play a more central role. He was so good here -- creating seven chances from open play before 80 minutes were on the clock -- that eventually Newcastle resorted to kicking him, and Joelinton was booked for chopping him down despite being nowhere near the ball.
Josko Gvardiol was also impressive at the other end on his first Premier League start, with his night's work including a vital challenge on Callum Wilson when he was left as the last defender following a misplaced pass from Rodri.
Newcastle destroyed one of this season's fancied teams, Aston Villa, on the opening weekend but didn't really lay a glove on City. It said everything that Eddie Howe decided to take off both Alexander Isak and Sandro Tonali before the 70-minute mark because they were so quiet. Newcastle only managed one shot on target.
Guardiola might feel his team aren't in the best shape but they are still winning games. It's now three from three to start the campaign and also a club-record 17 consecutive home wins in all competitions, a run stretching back to Dec. 31.
This was City's toughest league game until Arsenal away in early October and it was navigated with minimal fuss. -- Rob Dawson
Rob Dawson explains how Pep Guardiola will look to play without his star man in midfield.
Saturday talking points around the leagues
Kane's first Bundesliga start is a brilliant one
Say what you will about the desperation of Bayern Munich's past few months -- April's panic-firing of Julian Nagelsmann; needing Borussia Dortmund to drop the ball in order to keep their Bundesliga title streak alive; their single-minded, all-or-nothing pursuit of Harry Kane to solve their (relative) attacking woes -- when you get your man, it solves a lot of problems.
Donyell Malen's half-volley finds the back of the net as Dortmund find a late winner against Cologne.
Bayern indeed got Harry Kane, and in his Bundesliga debut at Werder Bremen he gave both the club and their fans everything they were looking for. England's captain earned his first assist by springing Leroy Sané into the open for a breakaway goal in the fourth minute, and after Bayern briefly ceded control of the match to the home team early in the second half, he helped to slam the door in the 74th minute. Alphonso Davies found him in open space on another breakaway, and he knocked the ball into the net from 17 meters.
Bayern piled it on from there. Two of Bayern's more mercurial players in 2022-23 found further success -- Sane scored a second goal, Davies dished a second assist -- and the defending champs rolled, 4-0. Another debutant, defender Kim Min-jae, flashed brilliance, too (someone that big shouldn't also be that quick), but Kane was the story, and his new club began its hunt for a 12th straight Bundesliga title in excellent form. -- Bill Connelly
Hummels' brilliance, Malen's goal save Borussia Dortmund
After losing last year's Bundesliga title race in part because they dropped too many early points, Borussia Dortmund looked poised to do the same in its home opener against a stubborn Cologne on Saturday. They controlled much of the first half -- in the first 30 minutes, BVB attempted eight shots worth 1.1 xG to Koln's three worth 0.3 -- but their attack slowly became discombobulated, their passing lanes impeded, and Cologne was the far more threatening team for most of the second half, both outrunning and outsmarting the favorites.
Jude Bellingham heads the ball in with his back to goal to give Real Madrid a 2-1 lead.
BVB needed brilliance from both defender Mats Hummels and goalkeeper Gregor Kobel to keep the score at nil-nil, but the attack finally did its part. First they reasserted control of the ball, then they found the net on a corner kick thanks to a scruffy poke from Donyell Malen. Hummels had to make another couple of key interventions down the stretch -- he finished with a match-best 13 ball recoveries and 23 defensive interventions (and also completed 95% of his passes and attempted four shots worth 1.4 xG on set pieces) -- but Borussia Dortmund prevailed.
The full-game stats favored BVB, but this match played out in three pretty clear acts.
Shots, first 30 minutes: BVB 8, Cologne 3 (score: 0-0)
Shots, next 55 minutes: Cologne 7, BVB 2 (score: 0-0)
Shots, last 5 minutes (plus stoppage time): BVB 3, Cologne 1 (score: 1-0 BVB)
In the end, defensive maturity saved Borussia Dortmund. That's not something we've been able to say all that often through the years, but it earned them three points to start the season. -- Connelly
Bellingham's seamless start to life at Real Madrid continues
Another week, another man-of-the-match display from Bellingham. The England midfielder scored twice -- and assisted a third -- in Real Madrid's 3-1 win away at Almeria on Saturday to add to his debut goal against Athletic Club last weekend and cement his status as the most exciting player in LaLiga right now.
This wasn't an easy win either, with the home side threatening an upset when Madrid youth product Sergio Arribas -- who only joined Almeria last week -- put them ahead inside three minutes. Madrid needed to react fast, and Bellingham stepped up, levelling midway through the first half.
Steve Nicol explains how Tottenham were significantly better than Manchester United in their 2-0 win in the Premier League.
Almeria were still on top and goalkeeper Andriy Lunin, who will surely soon lose his place to new arrival Kepa Arrizabalaga, made two good saves before Bellingham put Madrid ahead after an hour. His run into the box was spotted by Toni Kroos, the German midfielder's ball was perfect, and Bellingham headed past goalkeeper Luís Maximiano.
By the time Vinícius Júnior made it 3-1, picking up Bellingham's short pass inside the box, there was no doubt about the outcome. Bellingham had given Madrid the three points, all three goals vindicating coach Carlo Ancelotti's decision to push him up into a number ten position alongside forwards Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo.
Bellingham is closer to goal, and that spells danger for the opposition. Madrid might not need Kylian Mbappé after all. -- Alex Kirkland
Mbappe is back but Luis Enrique's PSG still stuttering
Kylian Mbappé hadn't played in two months, but his highly anticipated return Saturday showed it is almost as if he hadn't stopped playing at all. As soon as he came on for PSG away at Toulouse after 51 minutes, he made a massive difference. It was clearly an average Paris side without him and a dangerous team with him. He put Toulouse's defence under huge pressure, getting and scoring a penalty, creating chances and danger.
His teammate Ousmane Dembélé came on at the same time as him for his PSG debut and the two were clearly trying to link up a lot. Despite transforming their team, the Mbappe-Dembele duo was not enough to get a win though as Achraf Hakimi gave away a penalty to concede a late draw.
It's two points in two games only for head coach Luis Enrique. His team showed great tactical structure, great technical control and efficient press but lacked cutting edge and chances, certainly until Mbappe and Dembele came on. With those two now nearing full fitness, they will become starters and it will change everything going forward. But for now, it was just not good enough. PSG's summer continues to be difficult. -- Julien Laurens
Liverpool ride their luck and Mac Allister's red to win their home opener
After a summer spent reinforcing their midfield (Dominik Szoboszlai and Mac Allister in) and trying to do more (Moisés Caicedo, Romeo Lavia not in, Wataru Endo hastily in instead), we were expecting to see a calmer, more organized Liverpool on Saturday as they welcomed Bournemouth to Anfield. Last time the Cherries came north, they were quashed 9-0 but this time would be a much tougher prospect for Jurgen Klopp & Co., showing that they are still a work in progress.
All the midfield fixes can't overcome defensive lapses and Bournemouth took the lead inside four minutes, Antoine Semenyo thundering a shot beyond Alisson after Trent Alexander-Arnold gave the ball away cheaply 30 yards from goal. More slapstick defending led to the ball breaking kindly for Semenyo, who wouldn't miss from 15 yards. The Reds endured more mayhem over the next 20 minutes before wresting control and showing their class.
Luis Díaz produced the equalizer before the half-hour with a gorgeous bit of skill: After Diogo Jota's shot deflected to Diaz around the penalty spot, he flicked it up and swung his right foot around in one balletic, circus-esque move, burying the ball in the bottom corner. The hosts kept pressing and got a fortunate second before the break. It was the impressive Szoboszlai as instigator, tricking Joe Rothwell into sticking out a leg inside the box and gladly tumbling over. Despite it seeming harsh on the Cherries midfielder, VAR confirmed the penalty. Though Mohamed Salah's initial effort was saved, he dispatched the rebound from close range.
The second half was mostly Liverpool playing angry after Mac Allister was sent off for a 50-50 challenge on Ryan Christie. Yes, the foot seemed high, but there was little malice and it was very much a case of being fractionally late to a ball on the edge of the Bournemouth box. Lucky for Liverpool, what could have been a nervy final 30 minutes was calmed by Jota popping up at the far post to tap in an easy finish.
Liverpool fans will have enjoyed the attacking panache despite comically gifting Bournemouth the opener, and Endo's half-hour cameo after the Mac Allister red was extremely positive considering he arrived at the club barely 24 hours prior. There is a good team here; Klopp just needs to find it. -- James Tyler
Man United lack threat and inspiration
If the summer brought promise, excitement and hope at Old Trafford, then after two games into the Premier League season, Manchester United fans' emotions will now be much bleaker. Frankly, who can blame them?
Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Tottenham showed some positive signs -- United dominated the first half and created a number of clear-cut chances -- but it's the negatives that will live long in the memory, namely their inability to score and the number of chances they afforded a Spurs side that should have made them pay much sooner.
The pick of United's missed opportunities came in the first half was Bruno Fernandes' unmarked header from six yards out that entirely missed the target. That was just the first half. The most worrying parts were in the second half when even the chances dried up, too.
It's been an uninspiring start to the season to say the least. United papered over a crack by edging to a 1-0 victory over Wolves in their Premier League opener at Old Trafford (albeit despite Wolves not getting a deserved last-minute penalty). United need to put on a better display against Forest next time out Aug. 26 before tough tests against Arsenal (Sept. 3) and Brighton (Sept. 16) -- Connor O'Halloran
Ilkay Gundogan finds Pedri making a secondary run as Barcelona finally gets their goal.
News of the day
After losing 2-0 to Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag said it is "obvious" why they signed a striker in 20-year-old Rasmus Hojlund this summer. Ten Hag said he believes United have goals in them but that the arrival of Hojlund, who has yet to make his debut due to injury, is timely. United's striker woes are nothing new, as last season they tried out Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Wout Weghorst (who has left the club), in the No. 9 position. Rashford hit 30 goals last season, but prefers to play from the left wing. With Hojlund set to make his debut, United will look at their new target man to provide goals.
Wrexham made an incredible second-half comeback from 4-1 down against Swindon Town to draw 5-5. The Welsh club, owned by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, played terribly in the first half, but were able to pull it back with goals from Jake Bickerstaff, Elliot Lee (2) and James Jones (2). Last season, Wrexham gained promotion to EFL League Two, the fourth division of the English football league system.
Following Alexis Mac Allister's red card against Bournemouth, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted that the Argentine did not deserve the card. "I understand 100 percent how it looks for a ref in that moment but when you see it back, it is the inside of the foot and no power behind it," said Klopp to Sky Sports. "We saw harsher challenges which were not a red card and this shouldn't have been one. I don't know exactly what we have to do, but we should talk about it again." Bournemouth manager Andoni Iraola agreed with Klopp, saying it "did not look like a red card."
And finally ...
New season, same old Kaoru Mitoma. The 26-year-old Brighton winger produced a beautiful goal against Wolves, starting from just inside the opposition half and dribbling it all the way into the box, while making defenders look helpless on the way. Mitoma's speed and dribbling ability helped head coach Roberto De Zerbi's side breeze past their opposition, and this goal will be one to remember.