Talking points from European soccer
Jan 29 (Reuters) - Talking points from the weekend in European soccer leagues:
PIOLI UNDER PRESSURE AS MILAN SET UNWANTED RECORDS
It has been a rough start to 2023 for Stefano Pioli and AC Milan, with only one win in seven games.
They lost their last two Serie A matches against Lazio and Sassuolo by scorelines of 4-0 and 5-2 respectively. Pioli’s side have let in four goals in consecutive league games for the first time in the club’s history and on Sunday conceded five goals at home for the first time since 1997.
Pioli acknowledged that the tactics that secured Milan the Scudetto last season are no longer working.
"I am certainly thinking of many things, as everything that worked so well over the last two years and allowed us to play beautiful and effective football just isn't working right now," Pioli said.
Milan play city rivals Inter on Feb. 5, and Torino on Feb. 10, before Tottenham Hotspur travel to San Siro on Feb. 14 for the last 16 of the Champions League.
BARCELONA SURVIVE THREE-GAME STRETCH WITHOUT LEWANDOWSKI
Barcelona are in form on top of the LaLiga standings and extended their unbeaten streak to 13 games, even without key striker Robert Lewandowski.
Their 1-0 win over Girona on Saturday was their third consecutive narrow league win after winning at Atletico Madrid and against Getafe by the same result, three games in which they were without Lewandowski.
The Pole was given a three-game ban due to a gesture towards the referee after he was shown a red card in Barca's 2-1 win at Osasuna on November.
Despite struggling up front without Lewandowski, who is still LaLiga's top scorer on 13 goals, Xavi Hernandez's side managed to keep their momentum and even extended their lead over bitter rivals Real Madrid to five points.
Lewandowski will return on Wednesday against Real Betis, giving Barca a boost after the news that forward Ousmane Dembele will miss at least two weeks due to a leg injury suffered on Saturday.
BREMEN'S FUELLKRUG ON FIRE
A lot of things have changed in the Bundesliga since the season restart this year. Bayern Munich have yet to win and Borussia Dortmund are back on a winning track.
What has remained exactly the same is Werder Bremen striker Niclas Fuellkrug's scoring prowess this season, with the Germany forward netting twice in their 2-1 win over in-form VfL Wolfsburg.
Fuellkrug, who at 29 was a surprise addition to Germany's World Cup squad back in November, is currently top of the scorers list with 13 goals.
Paris St Germain had a chance to extend their Ligue 1 lead to five points after RC Lens drew 1-1 at Troyes and Olympique de Marseille and Monaco shared the spoils on Saturday.
But after losing their last two away league games, they were caught snoozing at the Parc des Princes by Stade de Reims, who netted the equaliser six minutes into stoppage time after PSG were reduced to 10 men following Marco Verratti's red card.
Neymar opened the scoring early in the second half, but beyond the result, it is Christophe Galtier side's lack of creativity that is cause for concern two weeks before playing Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
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