Every year the Champions League never fails to disappoint in the quality of soccer and the unconstructed drama that can only occur through sport. We have great goals, local hero’s becoming house hold names, disruption of coefficients and heartbreak all in a two hour span. Seeing the Turkish Champions battle the Italian Giants or watching a underfunded Celtic battle one of the top clubs in the world is just part of the magic that UEFA have stumbled on through this tournament. This week did not seem to fail on any of those points.
Manchester City picked up where they left off last year but in different fashion. A rare defeat for the Sky Blue team in the Northwest of England maybe semi-forgivable since it was at the hands of last year’s champions. However, the manner at which Bayern scored their goals spells trouble for City. Whether it was poor goal keeping from Joe Hart or mistakes on the backline, the second leg of
qualifying echoed the issues City have had during their Premier League season. City will have to perform better if they wish to compete at this level of European Football.
Even though United looked like they were on the front foot most of the game against a lesser Ukrainian side, Shaktar managed to grab a point from the Red Devils and were unfortunate not to do more damage to the reigning Premier League Champions. David Moyes has seemed at times to struggle with tactical adjustments, and his team has looked particularly poor when Van Persie and Rooney aren’t on the pitch at the same time. Evra back in the side will help throughout the year but questions till remain to be answered by United.
Matches Decided By Non-Players and Non-sense
The red card for Scott Brown has a basis in the laws of the game but let’s be honest we’ve seen worse. The question must be begged of the official if Celtic were playing a lesser opponent then Barcelona if the card would have been yellow other then red. Brown was given his marching orders after kicking Barcelona forward Neymar while he was on the floor. However, in real time his offense did not look as intentional as it did in slow motion. Shortly afterward, Celtic conceded their first goal, the game and most likely their chances of advancing out of the group of death.
Now that the Scottish rant is out of the way its time to focus on the real travesty of the week. Balotelli somehow managed to pull down an Ajax defender and earn a penalty, the aftermath of which resulted in a 1-1 draw with Ajax. The repercussions of this terrible call extend beyond one game. If Ajax don’t advance out of the group stages because of these lost two points, the economic damage will be in the millions. Ajax, a technically sound team, is looking for creative options after selling its play maker in Eriksen to Spurs. These millions of dollars could separate Ajax from being a group stage team from a quarter final contender which rolls over into millions of more dollars.
With all the contentious results and stories coming out of this week there were some positives. With Messi out of the lineup,
Ronaldo took over the mantle of the tournaments strongest player by notching himself two more tallies. Matching Real’s top man, Ibrahimovic looked unlucky to only finish with 2 goals. Arsenal continues their excellent string of results with Ozil scoring his first goal in a Gunners Kit. Finally, Chelsea seems to have found their stride with Juan Mata pulling the strings. The special one may be happy yet again if the results continue.