Andy Brassell on European Football: Can Bayern break from the Bundesliga logjam?

Bayern Munich Robert Lewandowski
Bayern blew their chance to go top of the Bundesliga

Andy Brassell takes a look at the stacked top half of the Bundesliga, Barcelona's front three and why Ajax can win against Chelsea...

"Especially for Griezmann, so used to being the main man at Atlético, the adjustment to fit around his new team’s star man has been bracing."

Barcelona's front three click into gear

The Spanish champions needed to answer some searching questions about their away form and they have done just that either side of the international break. Their win at Eibar on Saturday was their fifth straight in all competitions and, crucially, their second in a row on the road following their victory at Getafe at the end of last month.

The manner was just as encouraging as the points, too. For the first time it felt as if the big three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann properly clicked together. It was Griezmann, the subject of much recent analysis, who got the first before he set up Messi for the second. Messi then created an easy third for Suarez.

It's easy to say now that it was a matter of time until three of the world's best forwards found a way to complement each other, but it hasn't felt like that. Especially for Griezmann, so used to being the main man at Atlético, the adjustment to fit around his new team's star man has been bracing.

The France striker is the perfect foil for his two new compañeros. His industry makes up for the energy that the other two have slightly less of these days, and the three can score so many different types of goals between them. Griezmann's opener, tucked away from Clément Lenglet's long pass, was a case in point. It already looks ominous for their rivals.

Barcelona are now just 1.584/7 to win La Liga

Can Bayern separate themselves from the Bundesliga pack?

There isn't a more balanced title race than the one in Germany at the moment. Only two points separate the top nine teams at the end of a weekend in which Borussia Mönchengladbach lost at Dortmund but stayed top. No less than six sides had the chance to leapfrog Gladbach by winning this weekend, and all six of them blew it.

One of them, extraordinarily, was Bayern Munich. They conceded 30 seconds in at Augsburg and then, having come back and taken the lead, again deep into stoppage time as they made it a measly total of one point from two Bundesliga game since they gave Tottenham a Champions League hiding.

That wasn't even the worst of it. Niklas Süle limped off in the first half and it was later confirmed that the centre-back had ruptured his cruciate knee ligament for a second time. It's a huge blow for Niko Kovač. Süle is his best defender - and he hasn't been shy about saying it - so the coach will have to work to find his most solid defensive unit.

The pack all have their weaknesses; Leipzig are timid at home, Gladbach are currently punching above their weight and Wolfsburg are reliant on Wout Weghorst for goals. Dortmund, who deservedly won despite Jadon Sancho's absence, can have no better prompt to rid themselves of their inconsistency.

Back Dortmund for the Bundesliga at 7.06/1

Ajax are Chelsea's biggest European test yet


It was a good weekend for Ajax. While they spent Saturday winning at RKC Waalwijk, rivals PSV were beaten 3-0 at Utrecht. Ahead of a huge Champions League face-off with Chelsea in Amsterdam, Erik Ten Hag's side are clear top of the Eredivisie at last.

The enormity of Wednesday's occasion might have been weighing on a few Ajax minds, actually. They remain unbeaten domestically but were given a number of scares by RKC, who remain dead last with just a point from ten games so far. They will need to be much, much better to get something from Frank Lampard's men.

The good news for them is that they are well capable of doing so. Ajax have saved their best form for the Champions League so far, and have six points, six goals scored and none conceded from their first two group stage games. Ok, the 3-0 scoreline in Valencia flattered them slightly, but their desire to take the game to their opponents on their own patch was highly impressive.

This should be Ajax's moment to give as authoritative a performance at home in Europe as they have been able to away. The quality of Hakim Ziyech, Dusan Tadić, David Neres and Quincy Promes should give Chelsea a thorough defensive examination.

Back Ajax at 2.47/5 to beat Chelsea

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