Another weekend of European football has concluded, offering a plethora of captivating action. Aston Villa is currently making a late-season push for a Champions League spot, while Borussia Dortmund experienced yet another setback. Despite PSG’s poor form, they are on course to secure yet another league title.
Additionally, Inaki Williams helped Athletic Club claim victory in the Basque derby, and John Stones, an unexpected Manchester City player, scored a goal.
ESPN reporters Rob Dawson, Julien Laurens, Alex Kirkland, Mark Ogden, and James Tyler provide an insightful breakdown of the most noteworthy and essential news from the weekend.
“Unai Emery’s Aston Villa: From Relegation Struggles to Champions League Contenders”
Unai Emery finally receives recognition in the English game as one of Europe’s greatest coaches, despite his unsuccessful 18-month stint with Arsenal that unfairly branded him as a joke in English football. However, with his current position as Aston Villa’s manager, Emery’s team is making a surprise bid for Champions League qualification.
When he was appointed as Arsene Wenger’s successor, Emery was tasked with rebuilding a squad and club that had been in decline for nearly a decade. He may have been the right manager at the wrong time, and perhaps tried to change things too quickly. Nevertheless, he was instrumental in laying the foundation for Mikel Arteta’s title-challenging Arsenal team by giving debuts to players like Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, and Emile Smith Rowe.
After rebuilding his reputation in Spain with Villarreal, where he won the Europa League for a record fourth time, Emery has continued his winning streak with Aston Villa since being appointed as their manager last October. This transformation is evident in their recent form, with seven wins and one draw in their last eight league games, including a 3-0 victory against Newcastle. They are now in such good form that a top-four finish is not out of the question.
With seven games remaining, including matches against top-four rivals Manchester United and Tottenham, Villa is just six points behind fourth place, and players like Ollie Watkins and Jacob Ramsey are in top form. Emery’s impressive track record and exceptional coaching abilities are finally receiving the respect they deserve in England, as he demonstrates his coaching prowess at Villa Park. — Mark Ogden
“Why can’t Dortmund just have a normal game?”
The Bundesliga title race still has some twists and turns remaining, but Borussia Dortmund picked a bad time to have one of their infamous meltdowns. Although form is temporary and change is permanent, Bayern Munich’s 1-1 draw opened the door for BVB to level on points, but they couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity.
In a game against Stuttgart, Dortmund squandered a 2-0 lead after 76 minutes and a 3-2 lead with just three minutes of stoppage time left. Stuttgart, who had only won one league game since mid-February and were hovering above the relegation zone, managed to score two goals in six minutes near the end of the second half to draw the game. Former Schalke 04 player Joshua Vagnoman thundered a header into the net, and Tanguy Coulibaly’s shot was deflected in by Emre Can. Giovanni Reyna scored a beautiful goal as a late sub, but Dortmund conceded the equalizer with virtually the last kick of the game when Soumaila Coulibaly failed to clear a gentle cross, allowing Silas Mvumba to score. Time is running out for Dortmund to add another twist to an enchanting season.
Inaki Williams, first-choice center-forward for Basque giants Athletic Club, has struggled to consistently score goals despite being one of LA Liga’s fastest players and a role model to many. Williams’ highest tally for a league season was 13 goals in 2018-19, but he has only reached double digits once. His inconsistent finishing has prevented him from becoming an elite player. However, in Athletics’ 2-0 Basque derby win over Real Sociedad, Williams looked like a different player, especially when he scored his second goal in the 70th minute. Williams confidently chested down Raul Garcia’s Crossfield pass, took on defender Robin Le Normand, and blasted an unstoppable shot past goalkeeper Alex Ramiro.