By IAN HOLLIDAY
With the UEFA Champions League and Europa League group stages getting underway last week and most European leagues playing midweek games this week, managers across Europe saw their squads' depths tested this weekend, and some sides fared better than others.
Napoli followed up an impressive road draw against Manchester City in Champions League play with a convincing 3-1 victory over AC Milan on Sunday in a battle of Serie A title contenders. Edinson Cavani netted all three goals for Napoli.
Two Champions League sides who endured disappointing weekends were Arsenal and Real Madrid. On Saturday, the Gunners twice surrendered one-goal leads and gave up two own-goals en route to a 4-3 loss to Blackburn at Ewood Park. The next day, Real Madrid fell 1-0 at Levante on a 68th-minute goal from Aroune Kone. The Merengues were forced to play 10 men for the final 60 minutes after Sami Khedira was shown a second yellow card for shoving Sergio Ballesteros.
Two champions league club that definitely didn't struggle this weekend were returning finalists Barcelona and Manchester United. Barcelona rebounded from its 2-2 Tuesday draw with AC Milan to crush Osasuna 8-0 at Camp Nou. Manchester United took a 3-0 lead into the halftime break against Chelsea and never looked back, winning 3-1.
Here's a rundown of all the weekend scores from Europe's top leagues:
It was a good weekend for newly promoted clubs in the Premier League, as Swansea City, Norwich City and Queens Park Rangers all won in comfortable fashion. Swansea and QPR blew out West Brom and Wolves, respectively, by the same 3-0 scoreline. Norwich took a 2-0 lead at Bolton at halftime and held on to win 2-1. For Norwich and Swansea, the wins were the first of the season, while QPR's victory was its second. All three results carry added significance because they came against clubs that figure to be involved in the relegation battle this year.
Tottenham 4, Liverpool 0
Fulham 2, Manchester City 2
Sunderland 4, Stoke City 0
Manchester United 3, Chelsea 1
Blackburn 4, Arsenal 3
Aston Villa 1, Newcastle United 1
Bolton 1, Norwich City 2
Everton 3, Wigan Athletic 1
Swansea City 3, West Bromwich Albion 0
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0, Queens Park Rangers 3
Real Madrid won't have long to dwell on its first defeat of the season, as the club visits Racing Santander on Wednesday. Barca will also be back in action on Wednesday, in what should be the game of the week in La Liga at Valencia. The hosts are one of only two clubs in Spain left with a perfect record, neither of which is one of the big two (the other one is promoted Real Betis). A home win over Barcelona would put Valencia in position to make some noise in this year's La Liga title race.
Getafe 0, Rayo Vallecano 1
Real Zaragoza 2, Espanyol 1
Atletico Madrid 4, Racing Santander 0
Levante 1, Real Madrid 0
Athletic Bilbao 2, Real Betis 3
Granada 1, Villarreal 0
Mallorca 0, Malaga 1
Sporting Gijon 0, Valencia 1
Barcelona 8, Osasuna 0
Sevilla 1, Real Sociedad 0
Napoli's victory over AC Milan took the club to the top of the Italian table with a perfect record, though through just two rounds of Serie A, the table is still mostly meaningless. Three other teams can claim a share of the lead with a perfect record. They are Juventus, Udinese and Cagliari. All four clubs will see midweek action on Wednesday, with Udinese's visit to the San Siro to take on AC Milan the best game of the bunch.
Atalanta 1, Palermo 0
Bologna 0, Lecce 2
Catania 1, Cesena 0
Lazio 1, Genoa 2
Parma 2, Chievo Verona 1
Siena 0, Juventus 1
Udinese 2, Fiorentina 0
Napoli 3, AC Milan 1
Cagliari 2, Novara 1
Inter Milan 0, AS Roma 0
While Spain, Italy and France all have midweek fixtures scheduled this week, the Bundesliga will be on a normal schedule, with clubs returning to play next weekend. Though the schedule isn't quite as congested, two of the league's three champions league participants still lost their matches over the weekend. On Saturday, Bayer Leverkusen fell 4-1 at home to FC Cologne, and on Sunday, Borussia Dortmun lost 2-1 at Hannover 96. The only champions league club not to lose was Bayern Munich, which cruised to 2-0 victory at Schalke that sent the visitors to first place.
Hannover 96 2, Borussia Dortmund 1
Schalke 04 0, Bayern Munich 2
Bayer Leverkusen 1, FC Cologne 4
Hamburg 0, Borussia Moenchengladbach 1
Hertha Berlin 2, FC Augsburg 2
Nurnberg 1, Werder Bremen 1
Hoffenheim 3, VfL Wolfsburg 1
Kaiserslautern 3, Mainz 1
SC Freiburg 1, VfB Stuttgart 2
Through six rounds of the Ligue 1 season, just one undefeated team remains. Lyon defeated suddenly hapless Marseille 2-0 on Sunday to move to the top of the table after Montpellier drew 2-2 at Brest on Saturday. The former seven-time champions haven't hoisted the Ligue 1 title since the 2007-08 season, but with the league looking rather evenly matched for another season, Lyon must be thinking this is its year to return to the top.
Evian Thonon Gaillard 2, Paris St. Germain 2
Stade Rennes 1, AS Nancy Lorraine 1
Lyon 2, Marseille 0
AJ Auxerre 1, Caen 1
Brest 2, Montpellier 2
Lorient 3, St. Etienne 0
Nice 3, AC Ajaccio 0
Toulouse 3, Bordeaux 2
Valenciennes 4, Dijon FCO 0
Lille 2, Sochaux 2
This Sunday marked the first Old Firm match of the season in Scotland, and it was a good one. Steven John Naismith opened the scoring for Rangers in the 23rd minute, only to see the visitors take a 2-1 halftime lead through goals from Gary Hooper and Badr El Kaddouri. The hosts equalized in the 55th minute through Nikica Jelavic and took the lead in the 67th through Kyle Lafferty. Celtic finished the match with 10 men after Charlie Mulgrew was sent off in the 75th minute. Naismith added another goal in stoppage time to round out the scoring in a 4-2 win for the home side. Americans Carlos Bocanegra and Maurice Edu started and went the distance for Rangers.
What did you think of this week's matches? Which result impressed or surprised you the most? Will you be following the midweek games?