Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey


Barcelona's seven-goal demolition of Levante spells out two messages: Levante looks to be in trouble already and Barça means business; Manchester United celebrates the new season with a 4-1 win at Swansea; across the Channel, a slow start for PSG. Spartak Moskva leads the Russian Premier.

The English Premier League kicked off with new managers at Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea FC - the teams which finished in the top three last season. United went to Swansea and came away with a 4-1 victory, Chelsea received and beat Hull City 2-0 with first-half goals from Oscar and Lampard. Arsenal's Arsene Wenger started the season apologizing to his fans after losing 3-1 at home to Aston Villa, who travel to Chelsea on Wednesday.

In Spain, Barcelona's 7-0 thrashing of Levante, including a brace from Messi, sends a shiver down the spine of Barça's rivals and arouses suspicions as to Levante's season ahead. Atlético Madrid, Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao, Real Madrid, Granada and Valencia all kicked off the season with wins.

In the Bundesliga, five teams have six points from the first two games: Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, 1.FSV Mainz 05 and Werder Bremen.

In France, a slow start to the season for PSG, two points from two games, while Olympique Lyonnais, Monaco, Marseille and Saint-Étienne share the lead on 6 points.

Portugal's first game of the season sees Sporting Clube de Portugal (Lisbon) on top with a 5-1 trouncing on newcomers Arouca. FC Porto came from behind to win 3-1 away at Setubal, while Benfica lost 2-1 in Madeira at Marítimo.
Russian Premier League (after 5 games)

FC Spartak Moskva and CSKA Moskva lead with 11 points apiece after 5 games. Zenit St. Petersburg, Rostov FC and Lokomotiv Moskva are one point behind, Rostov with one game less. Spartak drew at home with Rubin Kazan (0-0) while CSKA beat Kuban Krasnodar 1-0 and Zenit punished Anzhi 3-0, a terrible start to the season for the club from Daguestan - only two points from five games.

In Ukraine, FC Shakhtar Donetsk leads with 18 points from 6 games; in Armenia, three teams lead with 4 points after two games: FC Pyunik, FC Banants and FC Mika. In Azerbaijan, two teams have the maximum 9 points from the first three games, Qarabag FK and Neftçi PFK. In Moldova, FC Tiraspol leads with ten points from 4 games. In the Kazakhstan Premier League, after 23 games, FC Aktobe leads with 24 points, while FC Astana and FC Shakhter Karagandy trail in second and third position on 21 points. After 21 games in Belarus, there are two teams in the race: FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk (49 points) and FC BATE Borisov (45).

Photo: Valeriy Karpin, Manager at Spartak Moskva

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey