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A miserable start for Morata, a happy one for Mariano


We’re in the midst of the various Supercup and Community Shield competitions which take place at this time of year; it’s the first opportunity to see glimpses of what players might offer during the new campaign. Squads are not yet complete but there’s been new arrivals at most clubs; the last players to arrive from their holidays are now back on duty and these matches are viewed as being official – more or less. As José Mourinho once said, these games are the most important ones of the pre-season and the least important of the campaign as a whole. We’ve already seen PSG (still without Neymar), Monaco (with Mbappé), Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Arsenal and we have the encounter between Juventus and Lazio to look forward to... And we also have Real Madrid taking on Manchester United and Barça – the top three of the Class fueling great expectation both here and in the UK.

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TONY O'BRIENAction Images via Reuters

Morata's Chelsea debut falls flat

Yesterday it was England’s turn for the league champions to take on the Cup winners in the Community Shield – which left me with the image of a crestfallen Morata. He moved on because he was always playing second fiddle to Benzema. He did play quite a bit at Madrid, but hardly at all in the big games and that ended up eating away at him. It didn’t matter how many goals he'd put away when he came on. Benzema figures higher up the pecking order for Florentino and Zidane. So after his proposed move to United hit the rocks (Florentino wouldn’t have allowed it to go through until after tomorrow’s final in Skopje, and Mourinho went for Lukaku instead), Morata decided to join Chelsea who paid 80 million euros for him. Yesterday was a disappointment – it was his first big day and there was a piece of silverware in play but it all turned out wrong. Someone else started in his place. Morata was brought on with 75 minutes gone and to cap it all, he fluffed his penalty in the shoot-out.

Mariano celebrates one of his two goals for Lyon.
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Mariano celebrates one of his two goals for Lyon.PHILIPPE DESMAZESAFP

Mariano off to a flyer with Lyon

That’s the way it goes sometimes: no one can guarantee that Morata will be a regular starter, apart from on the odd occasion – just like when he was at Madrid at least with Cristiano, Bale and Benzema in the frame. But his current situation isn’t exactly the same. Morata joined Chelsea and immediately found himself competing for a place with Batshuayi, a Belgian who joined last year from Olympique de Marseille for 40 million – half what he cost. Morata must now battle to earn his place there too. There’s no doubt that he’s got the ability. In contrast, Mariano got off to a great start, scoring twice on his debut for Olympique Lyon. His team won their opening game 4-0 - a result which puts them top of the table in Ligue 1. Now that’s what’s called getting off on a good footing.