Champion’s League Progression Is Looking Good For The Big Five

Posted: October 19, 2017 in Arsenal, Champions League, Chelsea, European Football, Football, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, Tottenham Hotspur
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Tuesday night saw Manchester City take on Napoli at The Etihad. As has often been the case this season they started like an express train and were soon two goals up. It looked for all the world as though they were going to score four or more goals again.

Unusually though, for City anyway, they laboured a little in trying to find a third goal and it was actually Napoli who should have scored but Mertens penalty was straight down the middle, a route whereby the ball will often catch the goalkeepers legs whichever way he is diving, as it did in this case.

Napoli seemed to have worked out how to play City in the second half and restricted the hosts to few chances. They did score with another penalty and the game ended with a 2-1 victory for Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola was his usual effusive self in his post match interview. Perpetually prone to massive overstatement, he called this Napoli team the best his side has ever played against. He also decided that he needed to win the next game to be sure of qualification for the next round. Actually, a draw should do it.

Tottenham went to the The Santiago Bernabeu given little hope of returning with anything but, with a little luck, could have won the game even if they had to thank Hugo Lloris for a couple of great saves.

Real Madrid did not have one of their better days and went behind when Varane put through his own net.

They did equalise through the customary Cristiano Ronaldo goal but any teams watching the highlights of this game will have seen little to fear from the Spaniards.

Liverpool travelled to Maribor where they managed to score seven goals including a first for new signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Even Jürgen Klopp’s celebrations were muted by the time the seventh went in as he obviously felt a little sorry for his counterpart in the opposition dugout.

Considering that Liverpool, after Celtic of course, had the shakiest start to their campaign when they drew at home in their first game, this was a resounding way to get themselves to the top of the group. Now qualification is in their own hands.

Wednesday saw Chelsea play host to Roma and Manchester United travel to Lisbon to play Benfica. Both clubs already topped their groups and were looking to consolidate their positions.

Benfica, who are having goalkeeper problems, fielded the Belgian under-19 stopper so United, obviously feeling sympathetic towards their opponents, didn’t bother having a shot in the first half until the 35th minute when Matić hit an angled drive straight to him.

The only other duel of any note was between Mkhitaryan and Rashford and involved seeing which of the two could give possession away the most. It was a close run thing as they both lost control and misplaced their passes far more than they kept the ball, but we think Mkhitaryan just shaded it.

A boring first half ended 0-0.

The second half began, continued and ended in the same boring display as the first with neither team showing any ambition to try and win the game. It was as though they had both agreed on a point before the match until Marcus Rashford forgot the script.

It should have sparked into life when he, almost apologetically, scored from a free-kick which caught the young goalkeeper unawares and saw him literally carry the ball into the net. But it didn’t and the game did little to assist the eyelids in their fight against gravity, petering out into a tepid 0-1 victory for United.

If football is an entertainment industry then these two certainly contravened the Trades Descriptions Act!

Over at Stamford Bridge Chelsea’s first half went according to plan as they went in at the interval leading 2-1. An excellent end to end game saw them take the lead with a brilliant goal from David Luiz. They then doubled their advantage courtesy of an Eden Hazard strike.

Shortly afterwards Roma were back in it through a deflected shot from Kolarov which found it’s way past Courtois and into the net.

If the second half was to be as good as the first then the Stamford Bridge faithful were in for treat!

It wasn’t too long before Roma were level, this time through another ex-Manchester City player in Edin Dzeko with another excellent strike.

Dzeko then put Roma in front with his head before Hazard too got his second goal, also with his head.

So an exciting game ended 3-3 which, in the final analysis, was a fair result.

Not a bad couple of nights work for the English clubs with only the London teams failing to win and even that made little difference to the tables.


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