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  • Neymar dazzled in front of his home crowd, Christian Pulisic seized opportunity with Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United looks great in Mourinho's second season.
By Avi Creditor
August 21, 2017

A week after the Premier League raised the curtain on its new season, Serie A, La Liga and the Bundesliga followed suit, and just about all of the usual suspects kick-started what should be a procession toward title contention. 

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus were all comfortable winners, while Manchester United and PSG continued to find success in the Premier League and Ligue 1, respectively.

Transfer rumors continue to swirl regarding some of the same, bigger names said to be available for upcharged rates, but that's done little to change the status quo when it comes to on-field results around the top leagues on the planet. 

Here are the biggest winners from the weekend around Europe:

Neymar, Home Edition

Neymar gave the PSG home fans what they wanted in an absolute masterclass of a showing in the club's 6-2 romp over Toulouse in his first match at the Parc des Princes. Two goals, two assists and some parting shots for Barcelona's board. So far, it's been money well spent, but as will be a reminder through the spring, what Neymar does domestically will be nothing but a footnote if he doesn't deliver on the European stage. PSG has had plenty of stars put up big numbers and lead the club to Ligue 1 glory. Neymar can only separate himself from the pack by replicating that feat in the Champions League.

Barcelona

It's been an incredibly rough couple of weeks in Barcelona, where the tragedy of a lethal terrorist attack obviously dwarfed anything the club has been facing both on and off the field. 

On Sunday, though, as the new season opened up at Camp Nou, Barcelona began the healing process on all fronts. It honored the victims of last Thursday's attack, it gave the people 90 minutes of joy and distraction and it bounced back from Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid by handling Real Betis with relative ease (Lionel Messi was wildly unfortunate not to score, hitting the frame on multiple occasions). 

In La Liga terms, it was a success made even greater by Atletico Madrid needing to fight back just to drop two points to Girona, all while Antoine Griezmann was sent off and faces further discipline. Real Madrid won, too, showed that Cristiano Ronaldo's ban won't be a hindrance and no matter the circumstances, it's a Barcelona-Real Madrid horse race in Spain yet again.

Bayern Munich's new signings

Niklas Sule and Corentin Tolisso wasted little time introducing themselves to the Bayern faithful, scoring in the opening 19 minutes of Bayern's 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen. The scoreline is a bit flattering, and Bayern looked rather vulnerable at some points, capitalizing on set pieces and a VAR-induced penalty kick, but it's still very much Carlo Ancelotti's side and then the rest of the field in the Bundesliga. As you were.

Christian Pulisic

If there's a team that's going to threaten Bayern, of course, it's Dortmund, and Peter Bosz's side looked mighty comfortable in a 3-0 triumph over Wolfsburg. U.S. international Christian Pulisic was a catalyst, with a well-taken goal and an inch-perfect assist to kick off his second full Bundesliga campaign with the club's first team. Ousmane Dembele rumors may be swirling, but the French rising star's absence gives Pulisic plenty of opportunity to seize an even more permanent role in an attack that's set to dazzle under Bosz's watch.

Jose Mourinho Year 2 Theory

Another Premier League game, another 4-0 Manchester United victory, as the Red Devils rolled again and look every bit the part of a contender. It's well documented that the second year under Jose Mourinho is when a club thrives in league play and becomes a champion, and there's no evidence that supports a contrary argument through two games. There are also reports that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be brought back into the fold on a new deal, with the Swedish star still recovering from a torn ACL and out for a while longer. That can only provide a boost for United, which will contend on multiple fronts again after securing a return to the Champions League–assuming Ibrahimovic settles seamlessly into a role and doesn't think he has to be the go-to star he was a season ago. It's been two games–and two games against West Ham and Swansea–but Manchester United looks fantastic.

Huddersfield Town

Give it up for David Wagner and Huddersfield! Picked by many (all?) to immediately go back down after securing promotion, Wagner's side is 2-0-0 on the young season and six points in on the chase for the unofficial 40-point barrier that secures safety in the top flight. The Litte Side That Could may not be done just yet, either–Huddersfield doesn't play a Top Six team until Sept. 30 (vs. Tottenham).

Italy's Power Trio

Inter and AC Milan have fallen on hard times in recent years, but they joined Juventus in securing 3-0 wins to open Serie A's season. AC Milan, completely made over, benefited from a third-minute red card that opened up its match at Crotone. Some 23 minutes and three goals in, it was over. Inter, meanwhile, had Mauro Icardi score twice and will-he-go-won't-he-go winger Ivan Perisic add another in an impressive 3-0 romp over Fiorentina.

Juventus, meanwhile, has plenty questioning whether it can win a seventh straight league title after losing Dani Alves and Leonardo Bonucci, but the attacking triumvirate of Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain offered an early response in the 3-0 win over Cagliari.

Juventus is also a big winner for landing Blaise Matuidi for half the price of Paulinho. That's solid business–and an important signing in that part of the field. 

Marcos Alonso

Marcos Alonso is the hero Chelsea didn't know it needed. The wingback scored twice–a sensational free kick and a late winner–in a 2-1 win over Tottenham, rescuing three points from the jaws of a draw after Michy Batshuayi's own goal gave Spurs life at a raucous Wembley Stadium. The win alleviates some of the tension at Stamford Bridge and gives Antonio Conte reason to breathe a bit easier, as the title-defending Blues look to navigate their way out of some very early season doldrums. A win over a city rival in a high-intensity atmosphere will surely do that.

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