Dispatches from Europe: Fastest Bundesliga goal downs Dortmund
It took just nine seconds of the season to put Borussia Dortmund’s chances of wresting the Bundesliga back from bitter rivals Bayern Munich in serious jeopardy.
Bayer Leverkusen, one of the best of the rest in Germany, struck at either end of the opening league game at the Westfalenstadion, where 10 days earlier Dortmund had humbled Munich in the domestic Super Cup.
Jurgen Klopp’s club were undone by Karim Bellarabi, with the Berlin-born winger, who could play international football for Germany, Ghana or Morocco, netting in record time before turning provider for Stefan Kiessling in second half stoppage time.
Leverkusen, now under new management with Roger Schmidt getting the gig after his Europa League exploits with Red Bull Salzburg last season, also won this away fixture in December to damage Dortmund’s title tilt then. They have done so again, as Bayern already hold a three-point advantage over their nearest challengers of recent campaigns.
Pep Guardiola’s German giants edged Wolfsburg as they began their Bundesliga defence with victory. Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben were on target, with only former Allianz Arena striker Ivica Olic netting in reply.
In France, meanwhile, Willy Sagnol’s Bordeaux are the only Ligue 1 side with a 100 per cent record after three matches, so the Munich legend’s team sit top.
Smart signings in defence, including going back to his old club for Diego Contento and loaning in Liverpool prospect Tiago Ilori, coupled with finding a strike partnership of Cheick Diabate and Diego Rolan have ensured a successful start for Sagnol.
Champions PSG trail Sagnol’s slick Bordeaux outfit by four points, and are missing talismanic Sweden star Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Usual suspects Lyon and Marseille, meanwhile, are languishing in mid-table, with controversial coach Marcelo Bielsa’s unorthodox tactics taking time to bed in at the latter team.
Mega-rich Monaco got their first victory under Leonardo Jardim, as Colombia hitman Radamel Falcao continued his return from injury with a headed winner at Nantes. In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven came from behind to beat Dutch Eredivisie champions Ajax in De Topper 3-1. Memphis Depay, who recently penned a new contract with PSV, was among those on target.
Last, and by no means least, we come to Spain. Atletico Madrid are 14/1 chances with Coral to retain the La Liga title they snatched away from El Clasico clubs Real Madrid (odds-on 5/6 favourites) and Barcelona (5/4).
Diego Simeone’s side begin their defence across the capital at Rayo Vallecano. Atleti are 10/1 to record the same scoreline Barca did in their opener against Elche, a 3-0 victory. Look to summer signings Mario Mandzukic (evens), Raul Jimenez (11/8) and Antoine Griezmann (6/4) for goals anytime here.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, take on newcomers Cordoba, who may well be fired up by playing in the Spanish top-flight for the first time in 42 years, but will be facing new Galactico purchase James Rodriguez. He is 11/10 to mark his competitive debut for Los Blancos with a goal.
Carlo Ancelotti has ominously, for Cordoba anyway, confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo is fit to start at the Bernabeu. It’s just 5/1 that the Portuguese superstar hits a hat-trick here.
Elsewhere in Spain, nine-man Malaga beat Athletic Bilbao, though Basque goalie Gorka Iraizoz had a sumptuous stoppage time header disallowed at La Rosaleda; Sevilla and Valencia shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw and Villarreal won 2-0 at Levante. Coral will have more titbits from Europe’s domestic leagues throughout the season.