There was plenty to like and dislike in football this weekend.
A sleeping giant awoke, women’s footballers old-and-new were celebrated while things go from bad-to-worse for the Manchester clubs on this week’s winners and losers.
A sigh of relief was followed by euphoria as the Wolves fairy tale was completed in emphatic fashion. Their NPL NSW semi-final loss to Sydney United was a heartbreaking end to a successful season for the former National Soccer League champions as many questioned whether they could stand up in cut-throat games.
Like the Wolves of old, Luke Wilkshire’s side stood up when it counted – coming from behind after an early Shaun Carlos goal to beat Lions FC in the NPL National Grand Final.
The match lived up to the hype as the 1362 in attendance at Albert Butler Park got their money’s worth in this seven-goal thriller.
Star player Thomas James rose to the occasion, converting a penalty in the 52nd minute to draw his side level before he sealed the Championship with his 116th minute strike.
The NPL NSW Player of the season and golden boot winner giving A-League sides plenty to think about as the new season approaches. While clubs will have to give up a visa spot to fit him in, his last season at the Wolves gives every indication he is worth it.
The Scudetto is Juventus’ every season and its everyone else’s job to take it off them.
A new challenger has emerged in Antonio Conte’s Inter who started the season with six wins from six.
The two heavyweights met on Monday morning in an early match of the season contender and Inter’s biggest test yet.
In true Juventus fashion, the reigning champions got on the front foot early through Paolo Dybala’s fourth minute goal before Lautaro Martinez equalised 14 minutes later.
With this derby crying out for a hero, up stepped Gonzalo Higuain – a player bashed from pillar to post in recent seasons – who silenced his critics in scoring an 80th minute winner to place Juventus back on top of the Italian food chain.
Women’s football took an important step on the weekend.
Football Federation Australia celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Matildas, with members of the 1979 team which pioneered the women’s national team gathering in Sydney to mark the occasion.
FFA Chairman Chris Nikou added former Matildas captain Cheryl Salisbury, who scored 38 international goals, will be the first female footballer to be inducted into Australia’s Sport Hall of Fame.
In another important win, AFLW Premiership player Jenna McCormick switched allegiances, as she looks to follow her dream in representing the Matildas at the Tokyo Olympics.
Signing for Melbourne Victory, the 25-year-old has been described as utility who can play in several positions and should be an exciting addition in Victory’s quest for silverware.
It was a great weekend to be Wolf.
Their poor run of results in the Premier League season and busy schedule did not matter as the swagger and fun returned to the Wolves style of play.
It has already been a long season for the recently promoted Wolves who have been given the arduous task of balancing a Premier League and Europa campaign.
While they picked up the runs on the board results wise, they proved last season was no flash-in-the-pan as they upset Manchester City at the Etihad.
An Adama Traore brace sent the football world briefly into meltdown with City’s loss ensuring Liverpool finish the round eight points clear on-top of the league.
There were no bigger losers this week than Manchester United.
After poor showings against West Ham and Arsenal, few thought they would stoop this low and drop points to a Newcastle outfit destined for a relegation dog fight.
Not even a lengthy injury list will excuse the Red Devils from the significant scrutiny which will follow this defeat, with the side failing to give fans many reasons to be optimistic.
A derby against an undefeated Liverpool at Old Trafford awaits after the international break and if there’s ever a game for United to show up in – it’s this one.
It seemed impossible for Tottenham’s week to get any worse.
A 7-2 loss at home to Bayern was exacerbated by conceding three more away to Brighton who picked up their second win of the season.
The Spurs had their backs against the wall three minutes in as Neal Maupay opened the scoring before an Aaron Connolly brace added further misery for the Spurs.
Moreover, it does not help Mauricio Pochettino’s future at the club is uncertain with him being linked to take up the Manchester United job should the club lose faith in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Sampdoria has been handed a tough start to the Serie A.
In their first seven matches they have met: Lazio, Inter, Napoli and Fiorentina – whom they have all lost to.
A loss to Hellas Verona puts them at foot of the table with their only win coming against Torino, having conceded three goals three times and meet Roma after the international break.