European Round-up: Barcelona Win Behind Closed Doors

There were plenty of interesting narratives playing out across the European football landscape this weekend, not least in La Liga, where Barcelona took on Las Palmas behind closed doors in the midst of the violent unrest – largely, it appears, perpetrated by police in full riot gear – surrounding the Catalan independence vote.

In Italy, Napoli continue to impress, maintaining their 100 per cent start to the season with a comfortable 3-0 win over Cagliari.

Bayern Munich showed that the more things change, the more they stay the same, throwing away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 for the second week running, despite Carlo Ancelotti's midweek dismissal.

And in France, Monaco striker Radamel Falcao's incredible hot streak continued for the Ligue 1 champions.

We've rounded up all these stories and more, keeping you up to date with all the action from Europe's major leagues.

La Liga

An eerily silent Camp Nou played host to Barcelona‘s seventh win from seven in La Liga, as a Lionel Messi double and a rare strike from midfielder Sergio Busquets saw off Las Palmas.

The football took a backseat to news breaking throughout the day of violence within the city, however, as police, in full riot gear, attempted to thwart the Catalan independence referendum which the Spanish government refuses to recognise and deems illegal, forcefully confiscating ballot boxes and dragging voters from polling stations.

There were rumblings right up until the scheduled kick-off time that the Barça game would be suspended, for which the club were being threatened with a six-point penalty.

As crowds gathered outside the Camp Nou, there were reports that one supporters group had said they would invade the pitch, with Las Palmas wearing an embroidered Spanish flag on their shirts, which only inflamed the matter.

In the end, the game went ahead behind closed doors, the 98,000-capacity arena left vacant while Messi and co. kept their perfect start to the season going. The result: 3-0 to Barcelona, and a resounding, 90 per cent vote of “sí” to the the question of independence.


Celta Vigo 3-3 Girona; Deportivo La Coruña 2-1 Getafe; Sevilla 2-0 Málaga; Levanta 0-2 Deportivo Alavés; Leganés 0-0 Atlético Madrid; Real Sociedad 4-4 Real Betis; Barcelona 3-0 Las Palmas; Valencia 3-2 Athletic Bilbao; Villarreal 3-0 Eibar; Real Madrid 2-0 Eibar


Securing the Bayern Munich‘s fifth consecutive Bundesliga title in his first season at the helm didn't earn Carlo Ancelotti enough good grace to survive a turbulent start to 2017/18, with the experienced manager dispensed with following a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain in midweek.

Assistant boss Willy Sagnol, a former Bayern player, has taken the reigns on an interim basis, while former Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel is reportedly close to becoming the new manager at the Allianz Arena.

Meanwhile, the managerial change did little to reverse Bayern's fortunes on the field. For the second week in a row, the Bavarians threw away a two-goal lead to slip to a 2-2 draw, this time away to Hertha Berlin.

The result, and Dortmund‘s narrow 2-1 win over Augsburg, leaves Bayern in second place, five points behind leaders BVB, and level with Hoffenheim, who's impressive 30-year-old coach Julian Nagelsmann is also being linked with the top job with the champions.


Schalke 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen; Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 Stuttgart; Augsburg 1-2 Borussia Dortmund; Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1 Hannover; Wolfsburg 1-1 Mainz; Hamburg 0-0 Werder Bremen; Freiburg 3-2 Hoffenheim; Hertha Berlin 2-2 Bayern Munich; Cologne 1-2 RB Leipzig

Serie A

Ancelotti's Bayern sacking and subsequent availability has served only to pile yet more pressure on AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella's shoulders. The former Fiorentina boss oversaw a third league defeat of the season at the weekend, losing 2-0 at home to Roma, and the spectre of the ex-Chelsea and Real Madrid boss, who won two Champions Leagues while in charge of the Rossoneri between 2001 and 2009, is looming large.

Montella did fine work with a young, inexperienced Milan squad last term, seeding the beggings of a blossoming cast of youthful talent, spearheaded by Italian international goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and Manuel Locatelli.

But a summer of huge spending, in which Milan spent more than €200million on 11 new players, raised expectations as the San Siro, rendering the progress Montella made last season almost irrelevant, as he is now tasked with formulating a coherent unit from disparate, expensively acquired parts; a task most managers would love to be burdened with, yet no mean feat all the same.

If Montella can't start to get a tune from his band of new recruits soon, don't be surprised to see a familiar face reappear in the San Siro dugout.

Maurizio Sarri is having no such issues at Napoli, who prized continuity over upheaval ahead of the new season, sticking with the players who impressed so much last season with their slick, attractive football.

The Partenopei, 3-0 winners against Cagliari on Sunday, top the Serie A table with seven wins from seven, two points clear of champions Juventus, who drew away to Atalanta this weekend.

Sarri's expert tactical mind and effective training methods have transformed Napoli into arguably the most entertaining team in Europe, and they look set to challenge Juve's six-year monopoly of Serie A.


Udinese 4-0 Sampdoria; Genoa 0-1 Bologna; Napoli 3-0 Cagliari; Benevento 1-2 Inter Milan; Chievo 2-1 Fiorentina; Lazio 6-1 Sassuolo; Spal 1-1 Crotone; Torino 2-2 Verona; AC Milan 0-2 Roma; Atalanta 2-2 Juventus

Ligue 1

Radamel Falcao's goal in the 38th minute of Monaco‘s 1-1 draw with Montpellier was the Colombian's 12th in eight Ligue 1 appearances this season.

The former Manchester United and Chelsea loanee's strike was eventually cancelled out by Souleymane Camara's 92nd-minute equaliser, costing the Monegasque side two points in their title defence, but the ex-Altético Madrid and Porto hotshot's stellar personal campaign continued.

The 31-year-old No.9 is enjoying a career Indian summer of sorts. He was widely regarded as the best pure striker on the planet while in La Liga, but a knee injury early in his Monaco stint and subsequent poor form in England seemed to spell the end of Falcao as an elite marksmen.

But last season he bagged 30 goals in 43 all-competitions games, and he is now looking sharper than ever. With 12 goals from just 13 shots on target, and an incredible 50 per cent conversion rate from 24 total shots, the 67-cap Colombian superstar is as close to a sure thing as possible in front of goal right now.


Monaco 1-1 Montpellier; Paris Saint-Germain 6-2 Bordeaux; Dijon 1-1 Strasbourg; Guingamp 1-1 Toulouse; Nantes 1-0 Metz; Rennes 0-1 Caen; Troyes 2-1 Saint-Étienne; Angers 3-3 Lyon; Nice 2-4 Marseille