LEICESTER CITY – MANCHESTER UNITED 1-1
Last season, newly-promoted Leicester City finished a lowly 14th, but managed to make headlines when they famously defeated Manchester United. After being 3-1 down with half an hour left, they produced the greatest comeback in Premier League history to win 5-3. Fast forward to this season, when Leicester are living a fantasy under manager Claudio Ranieri. They’re top of the league and they have scored more goals than any other team. But so far they have faced just one of the big boys, and things didn’t go well at all, with Arsenal defeating them 5-2. Still, nobody really thinks they can possibly win against Man United again. The entire Leicester team is valued at a little over $100 million, roughly a quarter that of United. Surely last season’s achievement was a fluke! Well, Leicester didn’t get a win this time, but they certainly proved that neither the 5-3 success nor their high ranking this season are flukes. Jamie Vardy made Premier League history in the 24th minute, when he scored for the 11th consecutive game to put the hosts in front. Man United equalized through Bastian Schweinsteiger, right before halftime. The 1-1 result will certainly boost Leicester‘s confidence, but it only helps Manchester City. They won 3-1 against Southampton and are back in 1st place.
SEVILLA – VALENCIA 1-0
Once one of the top clashes in the Spanish Primera Division, Sevilla v Valencia was reduced to a mere mid-table brawl this season. Placed a very respectable 4th last season – with Sevilla right behind in 5th – Valencia‘s current campaign has been less than stellar, but, with more than half a season left to play, I wouldn’t really qualify their situation as desperate. But that’s just me. OK, so Valencia had two men sent off against Sevilla and lost 1-0 thanks to a Sergio Escudero goal. I still don’t rate their season as disastrous. That didn’t stop manager Nuno Espirito Santo from resigning. The strange thing is that he informed club owner Peter Lim of his decision before the Sevilla game. So the loss – their 4th in 13 games… not that bad, really – had nothing to do with the resignation.
BORUSSIA DORTMUND – STUTTGART 4-1
It was less than ten years ago that Stuttgart were Bundesliga champions. And yet it might as well have been 100 years, because that’s how far today’s team is from being – or at least looking like – champions of German football. They barely avoided relegation last season and it looks like the same story this season. With nine losses in 13 games, second-from-bottom Stuttgart traveled to second-from-top Borussia Dortmund. And now they have ten losses in 14 games. Gonzalo Castro and Pierre Aubameyang made it 2-0 within 19 minutes, but it was 2-1 at halftime. Daniel Didavi pulled one back in the 40th minute and made it look like the visitors stood a chance. They didn’t. A Georg Niedermeier own-goal put Borussia two goals in front again. In injury time, Aubameyang set the final score, 4-1. Somewhat strangely, Stuttgart have more chances at avoiding relegation than Dortmund at winning the title. Stuttgart are a mere three points away from safety, while Dortmund need eight points to catch Bayern Munchen. Which will never happen.