Saturday’s soccer results saw two massive upsets of major clubs by their smaller brethren. The most shocking was in Spain, where mighty Barca lost at home to newly promoted Alaves. In Germany, RB Leipzig grabbed a late three points and upset Borussia Dortmund in a match with interesting subplots.
Barcelona 1 – Alaves 2
At the Camp Nou, there was little before the game to suggest an upset was brewing. Lionel Messi started on the bench to rest a hamstring injury and Luis Suarez was also left out of the Starting XI. However, Neymar returned to the starting line-up. The first warning sign came in the 39th minute when Deyverson scored off a cross that to say was poorly defended implied there was any intent to defend.
Whatever Luis Enrique said in the locker room must have inspired Barcelona, as the home side equalized seconds into the second half. Jeremy Mathieu headed a corner past the diving Alaves keeper and Barcelona looked to have righted the ship. Messi came on in the 60th minute but it was shortly after that Alaves shocked the world. Mathieu miskicked a long ball into the Barcelona area. It was picked up by Ibai Gomez and buried into the net.
It must be acknowledged that Barcelona had to shuffle its lineup a little due to a Tuesday Champions League matchup against in-form Celtic. However, even missing three starters in the starting XI, Barcelona played poorly and uninspired with its international star roster.
Alaves is no stranger to major matches, as it was a finalist in the 2001 UEFA Cup final against Liverpool. Alaves is located in the Basque area of Spain. The club is back in the top flight after a decade of sorting through a financial disaster beset by its previous owner. The club had fallen as low as the third division before its recent rise back to the top flight.
Leipzig 1 – Dortmund 0
The German city of Leipzig is a historic one. Its importance in history goes back to the Roman Empire, but its noteworthiness today is that its major soccer club is the Bundesliga’s only representative from the old East Germany. Much like Alaves, it won promotion to the top flight last year but unlike the Spanish side, its history is much shorter.
For the match, Leipzig focused on containing the speed of Dortmund’s attack and limited their chances throughout. The breakthrough goal came late as Red Bull midfielder Oliver Burke found Naby Keita in the area. The Guinean slammed the ball into the top of the net, giving Leipzig their first win of the season and continuing an undefeated start.
“We know where we come from. We’ve a lot to learn but we’re on the right path,” said Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl, per NBC Sports.
The press billed the match as a contest between Germany’s most popular team and least popular team. Leipzig was actually a rebranded club purchased by the Red Bull company and constructed with the aim to one day compete in the Champions League. Since 2009, when Red Bull created the club, they have risen from the German fourth division to, this year, their first season in the Bundesliga. As a result of their corporate backing, many fans in Germany publicly declare their hatred for Leipzig Red Bull and even protest by refusing to travel to matches in Leipzig.