Bayern Munich had swept aside everything before it during 2020 — until Sunday.
The recently-crowned Champions League winner hadn’t lost a game all year, a 32-match run stretching back to December 2019, but Bayern was stunned 4-1 away to Hoffenheim in the second round of Bunesliga fixtures.
The defeat also to put an end to the club’s 23-game winning run, which included Thursday’s UEFA Super Cup win over Sevilla.
Sunday’s result was even more of a shock following Bayern’s rampant 8-0 win over Schalke in the opening round of fixtures, which laid down an early marker as the Bavarian club looks to win its ninth consecutive league title.
Perhaps Hoffenheim was helped by some inside intelligence, with new head coach Sebastian Hoeness leaving his position as Bayern’s youth coach at the end of last season.
Bayern manager Hansi Flick refused to use Thursday’s Super Cup final, which went to extra-time, as an excuse for his team’s defeat.
“There were many reasons for the defeat, but in terms of their willingness and desire, I can’t blame the team at all,” he told Sky Sports. “The mentality after the 120 minutes on Thursday was great.
“We gave our opponents too many chances and we weren’t as effective on the offensive side as we normally are. Big compliments to Hoffenheim, the team showed a very strong performance and also a compliment to Sebastian Hoeness himself, as his team was very well adjusted.
“I don’t blame fatigue for defeat. We just haven’t been able to play our way, with the dynamism with which we normally can.”
The result means Hoffenheim is the early Bundesliga leader, while Bayern’s would-be title rival Borussia Dortmund suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Augsburg on Saturday.
Messi back in business
Just days after once again publicly criticizing the Barcelona hierarchy, this time for its treatment of former striker Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi was back on the scoresheet for the club he tried to leave in the summer.
The Argentine coverted a 35th-minute penalty in the 4-0 win over Villarreal at the Camp Nou on Sunday in what was Barcelona’s first game of the La Liga campaign and Messi’s first since expressing his desire to change clubs.
Messi admitted he had wanted to leave “all year” and claimed a clause in his contract meant he could do so for free, but in the end was forced to stay as Barcelona wasn’t willing to reduce its €700 million ($897 million) release clause.
However, the star of the show was teenage sensation Ansu Fati, who scored two goals and won the penalty that Messi converted … with a somewhat muted celebration.
An own goal from Pau Torres just before half time wrapped up the win and gave new head coach Ronald Koeman the best possible start in his first game in charge since taking over from Quique Setien.
Elsewhere, Suarez came off the bench to score two goals and grab an assist on his Atletico Madrid debut as Diego Simeone’s side ran out 6-1 winners over Granada.
Ronaldo to the rescue
Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo saved Juventus from defeat in its second Serie A game of the season, but was only enough to rescue a draw against AS Roma.
Jordan Veretout and Ronaldo exchanged first-half penalties, before Roma’s French midfielder gave his side the lead once again on the stroke of half-time.
Juventus was then reduced to 10 men after Adrien Rabiot was sent off for his second bookable offense just after the hour mark. However, a trademark towering Ronaldo header drew Juventus level just seven minutes later.
New Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo, who replaced Maurizio Sarri at the end of the last season, called his side’s display “a step back in terms of performance” from the opening day 3-0 win over Sampdoria.
“But this is a work in progress and we haven’t had an opportunity to play pre-season friendlies to test these things out,” he told reporters after the match.
“It was ultimately a point gained, as we were a goal down twice and then down to 10 men, while we have some players like Arthur who haven’t really played for six months.”