Of course, none of us should worry too excessively about Barcelona. They topped La Liga, unbeaten with a +19 goal differential, through six games. However, there are a few notes of concern to be found at the Camp Nou if you look closely enough.
Unlike the other champs, BvB have not been dealt a rash of injury challenges, with boss Juergen Klopp recently detailing his weekly selection woes.
The two won't meet until we get to open that present of a match-up the weekend before Christmas. Until then, Lille may need to remember how to chase the title; they led the final 22 weeks of last season.
#2 - Mama Mia!
#1 - The Hangover
Last season,Emmitt Smith Jersey, they won the title by two points having trailed the top by five points with five to play. An early six-point deficit to break-busting tabletop visitors AZ won't bother the Sons of Gods. Still, the Amsterdammers have not to their high standards followed the emotional release of a first crown in seven years by keeping firm hands on the silver.
Dortmund only lost once in their first eight, they stood sixth, with nine teams having as many or more points than their 13 despite there being only one with a better +6 goal differential. A home loss to promoted Hertha Berlin and subsequent late collapse loss at Hannover 96 had the town frowning in early September.
Like Barcelona, I'm not sure we should go throwing together a search rescue party for Ajax repeat hopes just yet. This club has gotten in the habit of finishing a lot stronger than they start.
The same knock has also derailed Eric Abidal, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and others, causing coach Pep Guardiola to perhaps not so wisely blame their preseason U.S. trip for badly affecting his fitness preparations. That both literally and figuratively sounds like a passed buck excuse to me, considering it was the club's sixth recent visit to the States for a summer tour.
#5 - Eye of the Beholder
#4 - Silver Polish
It also can't be overlooked how Barca have stumbled early on the road. Last season, they won their first 10 away matches by a combined 36-4 tally. This time, the champs opened their defense with two road draws, finally edging a 1-0 win at Gijon just before the break.
The squad also has a rash of autumn hamstring setbacks that have proven more troubling than initially expected. Despite Messi being pushed into the middle, the Catalans have been able to make little early use of summer catch Alexis Sanchez out wide. Meanwhile, Gerard Pique's comeback has been pushed back three times.
Our first three champs are not in any sort of deep trouble thus far. The same cannot be said of AC Milan, who needed four games to win their first and stood closer to the basement than to the penthouse into the break.
It's hard to tell which is more distressing to the locals. Is it the five first half goals allowed in the first five games? Or the lone second half tally in those matches? After two Juve strikes in the final three minutes in Turin, the Milanese are spoiled for anger choice these days.
Making the early struggles perhaps a little tougher to handle in Dortmund is the fact that they usually avoid a bad title hangover,Brian Dawkins Jersey. Two of their seven German crowns were repeat wins, and they've never finished below fourth in a table after a championship season.
There have been new pieces to gel into the formation (looking at you, Theo Janssen), near-constant uncertainty in upper management and just three home games from the first eight.
Unsurprisingly, injuries have also played a part in Milan's rough beginning to the campaign. At one point,Matt Schaub Jersey, Massimo Ambrosini, Kevin-Prince Boateng,DeMarcus Ware Cowboys Jersey, Gennaro Gattuso, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Philippe Mexes, Alexandre Pato and Robinho were all crowding the San Siro rehab ward.
Here's the deal: Lille's problem may not be that they have such great problems. The problem the French champs appear to have early on is the quick set of all the new fancy model pieces over at unsurprising early pacesetters Paris Saint-Germain.
#3 - Lille Wane, Yo
With this week's international break, let's see what's shaking with the champions from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain - each of whom has shown an early chink in their silver armour.
For this edition of our Top 5 Continental Shifts, let's rank the stories by who has looked least likely to repeat out of the gate.
Injuries have also told the early story for Lille. Attack aces Eden Hazard and Moussa Sow have been troubled by nags, while Aurelien Chedjou, Tulio de Melo, Rio Mavuba and Dmitri Payet have missed time.
However, attack Shinji Kagawa is still trying to regain top form and Klopp had to publicly insist center back Neven Subotic wasn't dropped for a game after some notable mistakes.
Of course, many of the same issues could have been discussed last fall and we saw what happened then.
Most distressingly,Brian Orakpo Jersey, the defense has revisited an old habit of leaking late. A penalty just past the hour at Groningen dealt the first Ajax loss of the season ahead of the break, the fifth goal in as many games suffered so late. The week prior, they conceded a galling 87th minute equalizer to guests FC Twente.
Despite any frustrations above, Borussia Dortmund look to be in most danger of involuntarily abdicating the throne. The always competitive Bundesliga appears even tighter at the start of this season.
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For starters, there is the obvious of going into the season with no proper central forward of any experience. The closest thing to a real striker is David Villa, who tends to play more like a left winger. What happens if Lionel Messi misses any significant amount of time?
And after squeaking that duck breaker against relegation bait Cesena, the Rossoneri promptly dropped a 2-0 decision at early leaders Juventus to officially launch the search party for their game,Marc Tyler Jersey.
While just four points back heading into the international break, Lille have matched Ajax woes of the late goal. The northerners cost themselves points four times with goals allowed past the hour through nine games, including two in the final five minutes.