The Bundesliga season kicked off this weekend, meaning each of Europe’s top five leagues are now underway for 2018-19.
Each week during the campaign, theScore will pick the best performer from each of the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1, along with some honorable mentions.
Premier League – Harry Maguire (Leicester City)
Fresh from a breakthrough World Cup campaign with England, Harry Maguire remained at the King Power Stadium this summer despite widely reported interest from Manchester United. Rather than dissenting, he instead publicly stated he respects Leicester’s decision to reject approaches to sign him, and the 25-year-old has responded in tremendous fashion on the pitch, too. At Southampton, he made 10 clearances, recovered the ball six times, and won three of four aerial duels before coming up with the game’s decisive moment in injury time, drilling home a superb winner from 25 yards.
Honorable mention: Joao Moutinho (Wolves). The bargain summer signing was key in the Portuguese-infused promoted side securing an impressive point against Manchester City as he contributed a fine assist for his team’s goal.
Serie A – Piotr Zielinski (Napoli)
Piotr Zielinski was a chief architect of Serie A’s most notable result this weekend as Napoli came back from two goals down to beat AC Milan 3-2. The 24-year-old Poland international started the second-half comeback by winning the ball deep in Milan’s half and subsequently arrowing a shot into the corner. He volleyed home an even better goal 14 minutes later to tie the game at 2-2. Dries Mertens would ultimately win the game for the home side after Zielinski had been substituted, but it was the latter’s performance – he also registered a metronomic 93 percent passing accuracy – which inspired his side.
Honorable mention: Giovanni Simeone (Fiorentina). The 23-year-old was a revelation last season and continued in a similar vein in front of father Diego as La Viola swept aside Chievo 6-1, his goal and assist headlining an accomplished performance.
La Liga – Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)
After the summer headline of Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure for Juventus, Real Madrid are benefiting from Gareth Bale returning to his best. The Welsh wizard, back amongst the scoring charts, was at it again Sunday against Girona. First, he outstripped his marker on the counter and finished coolly to put daylight between Los Blancos and their opponents; then he broke free down the right flank again late on to supply Karim Benzema for Real’s fourth. Dispossessed just once all game, Bale appears fully fit and firing, and that will go some way to banishing the post-Cristiano blues in the Spanish capital.
Honorable mention: Esteban Granero (Espanyol). The former Real Madrid man’s first La Liga goal since 2010-11 sparked a win over Valencia, but that’s just a fraction of the story. The 31-year-old also recorded two blocks, a clearance, four key passes, and an 84-percent passing mark.
Bundesliga – Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund)
After falling behind in the first 30 seconds, Dortmund ultimately outclassed RB Leipzig in their opener Sunday. Chief among the protagonists was new captain Marco Reus, who had set the tone with a 120th-minute winner in the DFB Pokal tie against second-tier Greuther Furth last Monday. The 29-year-old took the game by the scruff of the neck and it was his wicked delivery that forced Marcel Sabitzer’s unfortunate own goal to put the hosts ahead before halftime. The Germany international made three key passes in the game and capped his display with a neat finish in injury time to add gloss to the scoreline.
Honorable mention: Andre Hahn (Augsburg). Hahn rejoined Augsburg from relegated Hamburg this summer, and his terrific headed winner was the icing on the cake in an impressive individual display on his second debut for the club.
Ligue 1 – Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
Kylian Mbappe, already a true global prodigy, raised his stock even further this summer with scintillating displays for World Cup winners France, and he’s brought his form home with him from Russia. After scoring twice off the bench in his Paris Saint-Germain return last week, all of the teenager’s talents were on display against Angers, whose defense simply couldn’t contain his trickery and lightning pace. An expertly controlled back-post volley showcased his technique, and it was his movement and anticipation in executing a perfect one-two with Adrien Rabiot which allowed him to set up Neymar for a simple tap-in late on. Ubiquitous in his attacking threat, Mbappe is showing no signs of a post-World Cup hangover.
Honorable mention: Jules Keita (Dijon). The most immediate impact this week belongs to Keita. The 20-year-old only played the final 24 minutes at Nice on Saturday, but scored twice and assisted another to wrap up an impressive 4-0 win despite touching the ball just 12 times.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)