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Four talking points in European football this weekend

Real Madrid’s Belgian forward Eden Hazard gets off the mark © AFP / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU

PARIS, France, Oct 7Bayern Munich went from boom to bust after crushing Tottenham in the Champions League, while, Spain’s big guns may be misfiring but top La Liga anyway.

In Italy Antonio Conte’s rebuilding of Inter is still a work in progress following defeat to dominant Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain have no real domestic rival.

AFP Sport looks at the four main talking points from the weekend on the continent:

– Spain’s crisis clubs top La Liga –

Lionel Messi looks back on form after struggling with injuries at the start of the season © AFP / Josep LAGO

Zinedine Zidane was said to be facing the sack with Real Madrid lining up Jose Mourinho in his place, while two weeks ago Ernesto Valverde was taking similar flack at Barcelona.

However Real are top of La Liga on 18 points with champions Barcelona two points behind in second after both roared to big wins over Granada and Sevilla.

“It has been a strange start to the season and we have not gained all the points we would have wanted,” Valverde said after their 4-0 home thumping of the Andalusians, which saw injury-plagued Lionel Messi score his first goal of the season.

Real also scored four as another man under-pressure, Eden Hazard, netted for the first time since his 100-million euro ($109 million) move from Chelsea during a 4-2 win over Granada that also took some of the heat off Zidane.

The pair will face each other on October 26 at the Camp Nou, a match that will no doubt show which of the big two is in the best shape to take the title.

– Sublime to ridiculous –

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A star for Byern against Spurs, Serge Gnabry failed to follow up on that display against Hoffenheim © AFP / Christof STACHE

Did over-exertion in Tuesday’s 7-2 Champions League rout of Tottenham Hotspur eventually lead to Bayern Munich dropping three precious points in the Bundesliga?

Four days after thrashing Spurs, the Bavarians appeared to take their foot off the gas when they lost 2-1 at home to Hoffenheim, surrendering top spot in the league to Borussia Moenchengladbach and dropping back to third behind Wolfsburg.

It was Bayern’s first home league defeat for almost a year and their captain Manuel Neuer said the defeat served as “a warning you get nothing for free”.

– Conte says mind the gap –

Inter Milan’s Antonio Conte still has a job to do to overhaul Juventus in Italy © AFP / Marco Bertorello

Antonio Conte admitted Inter Milan have a large gap to close after his new side lost top spot in Serie A with a 2-1 defeat to defending champions Juventus.

Inter had been flying high with a perfect run of six wins before losing Sunday’s ‘Derby d’Italia’ with fierce rivals Juve.

“I’m disappointed at the defeat, not because it was against Juventus. I’ve always lost against Juventus, when I was at Arezzo and Atalanta,” said Conte.

Juventus won the first three of their current run of eight Serie A titles under Conte before he led Chelsea to a Premier League title and then embarked on the project to rebuild Inter Milan, who have not won the league since 2010.

“The lads gave their all, but we have a long road ahead of us to reach Juventus’ standard,” added Conte. “They’re at a different level from us and we’re looking to improve so that we can close the gap.”

– Ligue 1 of their own –

Neymar showed his undoubted class on teh pitch as Paris Saint-Germain hammered Angers © AFP / GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT

Paris Saint-Germain get the occasional reminder that they still have to show up and put in a performance to take three points in Ligue 1, as when they were shocked 2-0 by Reims last month.

This week however France’s dominant football force thrashed their closest rival Angers 4-0 as their all-star cast cruised into overdrive and overwhelmed the visitors thanks to the undisputed brilliance of Neymar and the work rate of new boy Idrissa Gueye in midfield.

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Now firmly in control of Ligue 1, PSG appear unstoppable domestically as Neymar got his fourth league goal and Mauro Icardi his second in all competitions since joining on loan from Inter Milan, while French phenomenon Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani sat out another game injured.

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