Premier League kicks-off to join second week of European football

This weekend sees some of the domestic leagues from across Europe kick off for a new season of proceedings, and with some of the world’s best players turning out for the first competitive fixtures of a gruelling season it’s finally time to say bye-bye to the summer break. While these are early days of course, and results here are unlikely to have an ultimately direct result come May, it should give us all some sort of idea about where each side is at in relation to competition, and there are some intriguing fixtures which are likely to highlight this. The games may also help fantasy managers decide on one or two previously unconsidered faces to include in their squads.

Let’s first take a look at the action in France, with Ligue 1 having been the first of our featured leagues to kick off just last weekend. That round of games indicated where each side may be at, though of course it is difficult to say for certain after only one fixture. One thing that may not have come as too much of a surprise is that Zlatan Ibrahimovic got his season off to a cracker with two great goals, though a booking took his points tally down a touch. His club, Paris Saint-Germain host Bastia on Saturday afternoon, and the visitors showed some solidarity last season with a decent 10th placed finish, though just a couple more wins would have seen them rise a bit higher – fans could have been forgiven for hoping for a finish around 7th.

Bastia striker Christopher Maboulou is one of the few to have gone above Ibrahimovic on the opening weekend, having also bagged a brace but avoided a special mention in the referee’s book. He will be hoping to continue that form in front of goal, but PSG are no pushovers – defensively the champions were by far the best side on the league last season, and breaking them down will be far from a formality. Ibrahimovic, however, will be looking to this game to grab himself another goal or two – Bastia conceded more than twice as many goals as PSG last year, so expect a tough afternoon for the guests.

Finally, the Premier League also returns Saturday lunchtime with Louis van Gaal’s Man Utd kicking things off at home to Swansea. The Swans have retained the services of coveted striker Wilfried Bony thus far, and will be looking to him as their main source of hope, but van Gaal will settle for nothing short of a win for the Red Devils as they bid to take yet another Premier League crown following last season’s worst campaign since the league’s formation.

Arsene Wenger will be looking to start the season in style with new signing, World Cup star Alexis Sanchez joining the North London club, while rivals Tottenham face a tough task away from to West Ham, a side they lost to four times last season.

Monday evening sees the first round of games come to a close when newly promoted Burnley host Chelsea, and new Blues faces will be looking to make an instant impact at Turf Moor. Diego Costa, should he feature, will be hoping to get his season kicked off well too and prove that he can live up to his asking price.

Euro Round-up: Nasri and Floro Flores claim decisive goals as season nears close

With last weekend’s footballing action now firmly in the record books, titles were decided, European qualification spots were allocated and some teams unfortunately lost their places in their respective league by securing a position in the much feared relegation spots – and several players bagged themselves some nice point tallies in our Fantasy Football competition.

Arguably the most intense of the aforementioned scraps came in Italy’s Serie A, where a supposed relegation six-pointer between hosts Bologna and Catania ended up respectively irrelevant, owing to victories for the other two sides battling to avoid the drop, Sassuolo and Chievo.

Relegation run-ins can often hold a potential goldmine for Fantasy Football managers, and Sassuolo striker Antonio Floro Flores did himself some real good in his game, grabbing a brace resulting in his best individual weekly performance of the season. He bagged 40 points for himself – not bad considering the previous five weeks only saw him add 30 points to his total combined. Those vital three for his club also ensure they have survived their first ever season in Serie A – all in all a great outing for the former Italy U-21 international!

There was another particularly huge battle in Europe on Sunday afternoon, however, as Man City and Liverpool went into their respective fixtures knowing that their captain could be lifting the English Premier League trophy following the full-time whistle. Man City have won the trophy once, in 2012, while Liverpool are yet to lift the Premier League trophy since the competition’s inauguration in 1992. Ultimately, the Citizens were to come out on top, with midfielder Samir Nasri putting the champions-elect in front before half-time, earning himself 40 points throughout the game.

Liverpool were ultimately disappointed despite coming from behind to beat a plucky Newcastle side, and indeed their striker Luis Suarez – who had seemed destined to leave Anfield last summer – has been the most impressive performer in the world this season in relation to fantasy football points, ending the domestic season with a whopping 740 – a full 45 clear of his closest rival Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid. However, Suarez failed to add to that tally during the Newcastle game – goalscorers Daniels Agger and Sturridge grabbed 20 points each from their exploits in front of the onion bag though.

In Germany, the Bundesliga title may have been sewn up for quite some time but runners-up Borussia Dortmund enjoyed the team performance of the week, with striker Robert Lewandowski signing off on the campaign with two goals of his own, also nabbing himself another 40 points in the process.

One of the big matches in Spain this week saw Celta Vigo striker Charles score both goals as the Sky Blues ended Real Madrid’s hopes of catching city rivals and Champions League final opponents Atletico in the race for the title. Their 2-0 win represented a surprise to many, with Charles earning himself 40 points of his own to put him right in the mix at the top of the week’s best performers in Europe.