Robert Lewandowski may have attracted most of the media headlines devoted to European football in midweek by scoring five goals in nine minutes for Bayern Munich after appearing as a second half substitute, but there have been other notable feats in a week of several surprises and moments of quality throughout Europe. Spanish team Celta de Vigo earned their share of plaudits for beating Barcelona 4-1 in a La Liga game while Borussia Monchengladbach netted four times in the opening 22 minutes of their game against Augsburg just days after the resignation of head coach Lucien Favre. Yet for Italian team Frosinone, this week will be remembered for having earned their first ever top flight point against all the odds.
Frosinone are debutants in Serie A having played their football within the second and third tiers of Italian football in recent seasons. In 2011, prospects for the club appeared bleak when they were relegated from Serie B to the third level Lega Pro Prima Divisione but following the appointment of Roberto Stellone as head coach, fortunes began to improve for the club. Promotion back to Serie B was secured at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season but then they finished runners-up to Carpi to earn their first ever berth in Serie A for the current campaign.
For their opening top flight game, Torino were the visitors to the 10,000 capacity Stadio Comunale Matusa and Frosinone slumped to a 2-1 defeat. Worse was to follow in three subsequent games with no further goals scored and another three losses but no more than two goals conceded.
The prospect of visiting reigning champions Juventus in midweek did not offer much hope of ending their losing sequence but strange events can happen in football. Juventus had experienced a very slow to the season in earning just one point from their opening three games but away victories at Manchester City and Genoa suggested a return to form for the ‘Old Lady’.
Carlos Tevez, Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal left the Turin club during the summer while veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and defender Giorgio Chiellini were omitted from Wednesday’s starting XI as Juventus appeared sufficiently confident to claim maximum points with a weakened team although several players did claim to be injured.
Simone Zaza opened the scoring for Juventus soon after the interval but no further goals arrived until Leonardo Blanchard equalised for Frosinone with a header with just seconds remaining. A 1-1 draw was secured with a first goal and point on the road in top flight football. The club remains at the foot of Serie A with a home match against Empoli awaiting the team prior to the international break.
Stellone had asserted before the game against Juventus that ‘in football, nothing is taken for granted’ and this week in Europe has demonstrated that amongst the high quality action often on display, shock results are still possible and long may they continue to occur.