Thomas Muller became the first outfield player to reach 600 games for Bayern Munich, marking his milestone with an assist in a surprise 2-1 loss to Augsburg on Friday. Muller teed up Robert Lewandowski at the Augsburg Arena, but it was not enough to see the league leaders past the relegation-battlers. The innovative forward has made such an impact on football that he has carved out his very own position. The ‘raumdeuter’, translated as “space interpreter”, has become the default term for players of Muller’s unique talent. Characterised by finding space through clever movement and timing rather than dribbling and showmanship, the approach has seen Muller net 220 goals for Bayern.
Borussia Dortmund took the opportunity to go within a point of their title rivals, beating Stuttgart 2-1 on Sunday. Donyell Malen opened the scoring after half time, before Die Roten answered back through Roberto Massimo. Marco Reus clinched a vital home win in the 85th minute, with the title race now fascinatingly poised.
Lionel Messi finally has his first Ligue 1 goal, as 10 man Paris Saint-Germain overcame Nantes at Parc des Princes. The Argentine guided a firm side-foot into the bottom corner from outside the box to help PSG to a 3-1 win. The home side had gone down to ten men, when goalkeeper Keylor Navas was sent off. A second minute goal from Mbappe had seen them take the initiative, and while a Randal Kolo Muani strike jangled the nerves, ultimately a Dennis Appiah own goal and Messi’s stroke of brilliance was enough.
A horrible incident brought Lyon vs Marseille to a premature end, when Dimitri Payet was struck by a bottle thrown from the crowd. The former West Ham man was lining up a corner five minutes into the tie when he was felled by the missile. The referee took the players off, and eventually abandoned the game after a two-hour suspension.
The Xavi era at Barcelona began with a win, as he presided over a 1-0 win at home to Espanyol in the Barcelona derby. There were positive signs at the Nou Camp, but the Blaugrana could not break down the away side in open play. Memphis Depay’s penalty just after half-time proved the difference between the two sides. Elsewhere, Real Madrid hit top gear in a 4-1 win at Granada. Marco Asensio, Nacho, Vinicius Jr and Ferland Mendy all got on the scoresheet as Los Blancos went top of the table.
The Serie A title battle is hotting up, with AC Milan, Napoli and Inter Milan all very much in the running as the Christmas tinsel goes up. The reigning champions beat the league leaders 3-2, with Lautaro Martinez’s goal being enough to hand Inter the win over Napoli at San Siro. A Zlatan Ibrahimovic brace was not enough for the Rossoneri to take the initiative against Fiorentina. The game ended 4-3, as two goals from Dusan Vlahovic showed why he is coveted across Europe.
While Erik ten Hag is a name on everyone’s lips due to a certain club in the north of England, the Ajax boss deserved recognition for a different reason on Sunday. The Amsterdam side won 5-0 away at RKC Waalwijk. Ajax scored their 500th goal under ten Hag, a feat they’ve accomplished in just 185 games. You can certainly see why the former Utrecht coach finds himself linked with high-profile jobs.