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Monday Oct 28 2019

Five talking points in European football this weekend

Alvaro Vadillo got the goal that sent Granada to the top of La Liga with Barcelona and Real Madrid both out of action. Photo: AFP

Granada are surprise leaders in Spain, it was honours even in the Ruhr derby, and Paris Saint-Germain again showed no mercy to old rivals Marseille in France, while there is a more familiar face on top in Portugal.

Here is a look at five of the main talking points from around Europe over the weekend:

Granada make hay as Clasico postponed 

La Liga´s two surprise packages maintained their early charge as newly-promoted Granada surged to the top of the table and Real Sociedad climbed into third.

The postponed Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona gave the chasing pack a chance to make up ground and they took it, with Atletico Madrid and Sevilla both winning too.

Read more: Postponed Clasico set for December 18 but La Liga could appeal

It means only two points separate first and sixth, the question now being whether Granada and Real Sociedad can keep pace and launch a sustained challenge for the top four.

Alvaro Vadillo´s goal gave Granada their third consecutive 1-0 win at home, this time against Betis. Their only defeat in their last eight matches came at Real Madrid and they are top of the table for the first time since the 1973/74 season.

Dortmund fail to fire in derby 

It was honours even in Germany´s Ruhr derby as Schalke held Borussia Dortmund to a goalless draw, but the hosts´ captain Alexander Nuebel claimed the visitors´ star-studded attack did not even try to find a way past him.

It was honours even between Schalke and Borussia Dortmund in the Ruhr derby in Germany. Photo: AFP

"It was difficult for Dortmund to score a goal, because no one wanted to get into our area," said the Royal Blues goalkeeper.

"If you don´t get into the danger zone, you won´t score goals. Their lack of ideas gives me a few worries," said Sky pundit, former Liverpool and Germany midfielder Didi Hamann.

The result left Dortmund fifth in the Bundesliga, three points behind leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach and two points behind Bayern Munich in second.

Read more: Dortmund in Milan without skipper Reus, Sancho back

Having been tipped to make a serious title challenge, pressure is building on Lucien Favre, and Jose Mourinho is reportedly waiting in the wings if the Swiss coach is fired.

Marseille no rivals for PSG again 

It is the biggest fixture in French football but it is a long time since Marseille have been real rivals for Paris Saint-Germain. On Sunday Andre Villas-Boas´s team were blown away, losing 4-0 at the Parc des Princes as their winless run in the ´Classique´ stretched to 20 games.

Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe both scored twice for PSG, with all the goals coming in the first half. Neymar was again absent, but Angel Di Maria was once again outstanding, setting up two of the goals.

PSG are already eight points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after just 11 matches, while Marseille are seventh.

Serie A elite look jaded 

Juventus, Inter Milan and Napoli all settled for Serie A stalemates after showing signs of fatigue on the back of Champions League victories.

Juventus were held to a draw at Lecce but remain top of Serie A. Photo: AFP

Instead it was Atalanta who were the weekend´s big winners, thrashing Udinese 7-1 to put their 5-1 drubbing at Manchester City behind them and move to within three points of leaders Juve.

"Everyone is paying for something in the Champions League," said Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti after a 1-1 draw against lowly SPAL.

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri was unhappy with his side´s "scrappy" 1-1 draw against Lecce, which was missed by Cristiano Ronaldo.

"We needed to be a bit more determined and clinical," said Sarri.

Inter are a point off top spot in second after being held to a 2-2 draw by Parma.

Famalicao´s fairytale run ends 

Unheralded Famalicao saw their unbeaten start to the Portuguese season ended as they lost 3-0 on their short trip to face giants Porto on Sunday.

Famalicao were given the runaround in a 3-0 defeat at Porto as the unheralded visitors were knocked off top spot in Portugal. Photo: AFP

The newly-promoted side, who owe their rise to the backing of super-agent Jorge Mendes and Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer, have slipped to third in the table, two points behind Porto and Benfica after eight matches.

"The usual suspects share the leadership," said sports daily A Bola on Monday morning, with reigning champions Benfica winning 1-0 at Tondela.

"We were completely outplayed," admitted Famalicao coach Joao Pedro Sousa, previously the assistant to Marco Silva at Everton.