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Liverpool among Slow Starters in Europe

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Liverpool aren't the only big side in Europe struggling to start quickly to match or even get close to last season's form in their respective domestic leagues.

No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it
No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it
Dennis Grombkowski

It seems that quite a few teams are struggling in European football and Liverpool have good company. Real Madrid may be included among their number as the loss at Real Socidead before the international break was followed by a home defeat by fierce local rivals Atlético Madrid. Real Madrid have found form though and have hammered quite a few teams since losing to Diego Simeone 's La Liga champions. Borussia Dortmund are adrift in midtable in the Bundesliga with four defeats to date while Paris Saint-Germain have collected 6 draws from 9 games. Laurent Blanc's side hasn't tasted defeat in all competitions just yet, but the capital club appears to have a penchant for 1-1 draws.

This doesn't excuse some of Liverpool's limp offerings where heaps upon heaps of additional time probably wouldn't help the Merseyside club score goals with some of the stodgy attacking efforts displayed last month. Extra time may, however, offer opponents further chances to score another irritatingly late goal. Late goals conceded are the new set-pieces. Maybe not yet but soon. The struggles of notable clubs with talented, or at least competent, managers in charge should bring some perspective. A poor early doesn't terminate any goals the club has for the season, but it does provide perspective and a comfortable cushion. Both are needed in times of peril.

PSG are in third position in Ligue 1, seven points behind early runners Marseille. A bit of Marcelo Bielsa will do that to a club. Tiago Ilori's Bordeaux remain above the French champions in second spot, but Monaco aren't even close to life near the top after quite a poor start indeed. Real Madrid are a point above the champions but are four points behind El Clásico rivals Barcelona. Valencia and Sevilla are both flying high in second and third spots, but can they maintain early promise in the coming months? Borussia Dortmund are not having a good time with injuries or results. The return of the dashing Mats Hummels has not brought the improvement required in the defence. Hamburg may be one of Germany's grandest clubs but they haven't been good for a while. Losing at home to a club in the shape Hamburg's in is embarrassing.

Having to make up a 10 point gap in 13th position in an 18 team league to a Bayern Munich side managed by Pep Guardiola and becoming strengthened with options that Dortmund once called upon. Twelve goals conceded and too many injuries. Training methods? The will of the Football Gods? A punishing style of play?  A covetous chairman wishing despair upon BVB, only for Jürgen Klopp to flee such catastrophic happenings into grateful, scheming arms. The excessive injuries is just another problem for Klopp to manage. Losing a key figure every summer is one thing, but something possibly avoidable? Klopp isn't easily discouraged but he would be justified in being frustrated with the season so far.

At least other two have a big result in the Champions League to console them. Barcelona haven't conceded a goal in La Liga yet but lost 3-2 in an entertaining side Paris. This is a Barcelona side that has seen an early restoration of sorts under Luis Enrique with young stars and world famous attacking South Americans making their mark. Arsenal may have had three clear cut chances that weren't taken by Danny Welbeck but Arsène Wenger would have been glad that a two goal defeat was what his side left with. Dortmund were direct and should have won the game by at least four or five goals. Relentless. Liverpool don't have a Champions League victory of note to offer but as Brendan Rodgers noted (link previous article on his quotes), Liverpool's performance level at White Hart Lane is something to look to moving forward. Winning three nil away at Tottenham Hotspur is a result that belongs to last season, think of the wins at Old Trafford and St Mary's by the exact same scoreline.

Real Madrid may have problems pertaining to balance in midfield but have so many goals in the side. Step forward goal machine Cristiano Ronaldo. 15 goals in 7 league games. 2 in 2 Champions League games. Carlo Ancelotti can count on the former Manchester United player to combine with Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale to blast the Champions League holders out of trouble. For the other sides looking for improved results, the return of the men who will lead their hopes will naturally assist any defined aims for the season. Zlatan Imbrahimovic. Marco Reus. Daniel Sturridge. All three know what to do and how to do it in the final third. Reus and Sturridge are the new main men at their respective clubs after Bayern bewitched Robert Lewandowski and Barcelona bagged Luis Suárez. Each side needs its reference point in attack and this international break must herald the end to a struggling start.