Andy Brassell on European Football: Lazio stake their Serie A claim
The title race in Italy now has a third contender, writes Andy Brassell, as PSG plot revenge and Real Madrid ready their move for La Liga
Lazio moving to make a three-horse race in Serie A
Sunday's Corriere dello Sport was unambiguous with its front-page splash. "Lazio for the Scudetto," it trumpeted, going on to argue that Serie A has a genuine three-team battle for the title now after the capital club beat Napoli late on Saturday night.
The confidence is understandable, and not just because of the dramatic nature of the win over Gennaro Gattuso's side. Lazio are six points behind leaders Juventus with a game in hand, and they are on fire. They've scored more Serie A goals than either the champions or presumed next-best Inter, and beat Juve twice in December; once in the league, and again in the Supercoppa Italiana.
Their main goal threat is clear - Ciro Immobile's goal on Saturday, albeit one gifted to him by Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina, was his 20th in 17 league starts so far, following on from his last-gasp winner the week before at Brescia. Yet the form around him of Luis Alberto, Sergej Milinković-Savić and Joaquin Correa has also been stellar, and this individual quality gives them the chance to win games even when they're below par. If their form holds, next month's visit of Inter to the Olimpico will be fascinating.
Convinced by Lazio this season? They are8.60 to win Serie A
Monaco must fear PSG backlash
The last game of the European weekend was a surprise treat, and all the better for it. After Monaco went a goal down at the Parc des Princes to a Neymar strike three minutes in, it looked clear which way the wind was blowing, but the Principality club struck back in fine style, and became only the second team to emerge from a visit to Paris Saint-Germain without losing this season at the end of a thrilling 3-3 draw.
It was quite the statement from Robert Moreno as Luis Enrique's former assistant made his Ligue 1 bow in charge. He had every right to punch the air in delight at the full-time whistle, as his team played with bravery, verve and intelligence, showing the sort of guts that very few visitors to the capital do these days.
The problem for Monaco is that they will be playing the return fixture just three days later, on Wednesday, after it was rescheduled from the first half of the season. It's no great leap of the imagination to think of PSG taking out their frustrations from Sunday on the Monegasques, and Thomas Tuchel has the option to bring in Edinson Cavani and Pablo Sarabia, having started with an obscenely talented Neymar-Mbappé-Icardi-Di María top four at the weekend. The real question is whether Moreno will be brave enough to be on the front foot again after selecting a very attacking line-up himself and later throwing on Islam Slimani who scored their equaliser, for Cesc Fàbregas.
PSG are 1.50 to beat Monaco on Wednesday night
Real Madrid return to La Liga in good spirits
On the back of Federico Valverde's last-ditch lunge on Álvaro Morata in Sunday's Supercopa final, preventing a probable Atlético winner deep into extra-time and thus becoming perhaps the most celebrated foul of recent times, Real Madrid return from the Middle East this week with an extra trophy in their luggage. It also continues Zinedine Zidane's extraordinary record in finals as a coach - played nine, won nine.
Though much of the discussion at home in Spain has been over the wisdom of reformatting and rescheduling the Supercopa, there's no denying that the last week or so has been a galvanising experience for El Real. They have shown once again that they can dig in at the big moments. The attritional nature of the victory over Atleti was reminiscent of the 2016 Champions League final win in Milan that got it all rolling for Zizou, with Isco's performance against Valencia in the semi-final in particular recalling the glory days of his first spell.
They did it without Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard too, which is a tribute to their growing collective strength. With Barcelona's well-publicised current issues, this is surely the opportunity that all Madridistas have been waiting for to make their move for the Liga title now they're back.