Football in the north-east remains a struggle, but at Least Newcastle showed some flickers of life.

ENGLAND

Light at the end of the north-east tunnel?

Things were looking better for Newcastle on Saturday as they led champions Chelsea 2-0 with the clock running down. But, two goals from the visitors in the last 11 minutes resulted in two points being squandered. The result meant that Steve McClaren’s side remain second bottom, just a point ahead of neighbours Sunderland, who were soundly beaten 3-0 by Manchester United. McClaren will take some encouragement from the performance of his players, who up until their late capitulation, produced a determined and enterprising display.

 

SPAIN

Barcelona defensive crisis?

Barcelona endured a nervy finish at home to Las Palmas on Saturday as visitors Las Palmas, trailing 2-1, pressed hard for an equaliser. However, the big story to emerge from the match was not Barca’s failure to keep a clean sheet, but the loss through injury of talismanic forward Lionel Messi. The Argentinian¬†suffered a tear in the medial collateral ligament of his left knee, and is expected to be out of action for 8 weeks. How Barcelona respond to his absence will have a significant bearing on the Spanish season.

 

GERMANY

Must win game for Borussia Monchengladbach?

Borussia Monchengladbach picked up three much-needed points at fellow strugglers Stuttgart on Saturday. The result lifted Monchengladbach out of the relegation zone and provided the perfect start to the reign of new coach Andre Schubert.
FRANCE

Will Valbuena be given an easier ride by opposing supporters?

Just a week after he was bombarded with missiles by supporters of his former club, Marseille, Matthieu Valbuena endured another miserable afternoon on Saturday. Valbuena lasted less than an hour before being replaced as his side suffered a surprise 3-1 defeat at Bordeaux.

 

HOLLAND

Can anyone stop the legend of Heracles growing?

Heracles impressive winning sequence came to a halt at AZ Alkmaar on Saturday. After winning their previous five matches unheralded Heracles Almelo came back to earth with a bump, suffering a 3-1 defeat at AZ. The result leaves the Almelo-based club in third spot in the table, a point behind Feyenord and four behind Ajax.

 

ITALY

Is Mario Balotelli returning to his best?

Just days after his free-kick earned Milan a 3-2 win at Udinese, Mario Balotelli was unable to do anything to prevent Milan falling to a 1-0 defeat at Genoa. That defeat, Milan’s 3rd in their opening six Serie A matches, leaves Milan 10th in the table. Consistency for both Balotelli and Milan remain a problem.