Champions League Reactions: Matchday 5

Champions League Reactions: Matchday 5

By:
12/02/2018

Group A

Club Atlético de Madrid: We need to stop sleeping on Thomas Partey because he’s good. He may not have scored, but his volley really was something else. Also, Ángel Correa–don’t do him like that. Jemerson has a family.

Borussia Dortmund: Christian Pulisic and Marco Reus both should’ve scored. They’ll advance, but if they miss those chances in the knockout stages, that’s their tournament. Bottom line: Dortmund needs to be more clinical.

Club Brugge: They did a lot of defending, but Emmanuel Bonaventure missed a glorious chance in the second half to keep Brugge’s tournament dreams alive. He needs to put that one in the net. Aside from that, Brugge never troubled Dortmund.

AS Monaco FC: Radamel Falcao is officially over because that penalty was atrocious. The match wasn’t even close. I feel bad for Thierry Henry at this point because I don’t care who is in charge of this team: No managerial skill can fix those shambles.

Match to watch: Monaco-Dortmund. Dortmund has only picked up one point since going a perfect nine-for-nine to start, and I’m curious to see if they’ll bounce back. On the flip side, can Henry do enough to get something out of his team?

Group B

FC Barcelona: This game was single-handedly won by Lionel Messi with a goal and an assist. He took Barcelona to the next level on a night where they actually looked pretty bad. Marc-André ter Stegen came up big on several occasions to hold onto all three points, however.

Tottenham Hotspur FC: Tottenham would’ve been out with anything other than a win. They got the three points their performance deserved, and now have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Inter. This is the Spurs we saw in last year’s group stage, and it looks like they’re finally finding some form.

FC Internazionale Milano: They held on to a 0-0 draw until the 80th minute, but they let Moussa Sissoko run straight. Then Samir Handanović was on the ground before Christian Eriksen even got to the ball. As good as Tottenham was, it was a dreadful goal to concede, and now Inter’s chances of advancing are out of their control.

PSV Eindhoven: PSV went for it, and on the balance of the chances, they probably should’ve had it. A combination of ter Stegen and the woodwork kept them from winning, but it’s always an impressive outing when you outclass Barcelona.

Match to watch: Barcelona-Tottenham. Talk about a pressure-filled situation for your last match if you’re Spurs. If they can get what they need while at the Camp Nou, they’ll completely deserve to advance

Group C

SSC Napoli: This was a big result for Napoli, but the job is far from done. It’s good to see Dries Mertens on the scoresheet for them, but they were carved open too easily for the Red Star goal. There was a chance in the first half when it was still 1-0 Napoli which Red Star probably should’ve put away. They’ll need to defend better at Anfield.

Paris Saint-Germain: That’s a great performance from PSG, one they haven’t turned in yet in this season’s Champions League. They defended well and didn’t give up too much to Liverpool, but this could’ve been so much easier without the horrible challenge from Ángel di María just before halftime to give up the penalty.

Liverpool FC: They’ve been perfect at home, but have zero points to show for their three away trips. That may be what knocks them out of the Champions League, especially since they’ve lost the head-to-head tiebreaker with PSG. If they get by Napoli in two weeks, they’ll need to figure out how to get shots on frame away from home.

Red Star Belgrade: This team is probably better than they get credit for and may have scored the goal of the match, though they couldn’t come back. They’ll have their hands full with PSG, but they also haven’t conceded yet at home. Europa League is still very much in play.

Match to watch: Liverpool-Napoli. Assuming PSG takes care of Red Star, they’re through, which means these two will be battling it out for the final spot. Given the head-to-head tiebreaker, Liverpool probably needs to win by multiple goals. This’ll be fun, especially at Anfield.

Group D

FC Porto: Porto was very good going forward in the second half. The set piece was worked brilliantly, and then both Jesús Corona and Moussa Marega scored again, like they’ve done all season long in this competition. They gave away an unlucky penalty, but were never in doubt of taking all three points.

FC Schalke 04: Ralf Fährmann can only do so much in goal. He had no help, and Schalke will surely be the easy draw in the Round of 16.

Galatasaray AŞ: They looked awful, especially in the back. They left nothing worth noting going forward, too. There’s a reason I said I didn’t care about this group on Matchday 1.

FC Lokomotiv Moscow: Oh look, they won! But they were also unimpressive. They didn’t impress me, though that’s definitely colored by the past four matchdays. At least they didn’t go through the whole competition with no points gained.

Match to watch: Save yourself the frustration and don’t bother with this group.

Group E

FC Bayern Munich: Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski, and Franck Ribéry all scored, and it looked like the Bayern of old. My only complaint is that Jérôme Boateng overcommitted for Benfica’s goal, which only reminded me that this still isn’t an unstoppable Bayern.

AFC Ajax: Ajax was comfortable, and Dušan Tadić showed great composure in both of his goals. Despite unorthodox goalkeeping at times, André Onana earned his clean sheet in the end, and the Dutch side keeps motoring on.

SL Benfica: Benfica let Robben cut back on his left foot twice. Benfica left Lewandowski unmarked on a corner twice. Bayern would probably have won anyway, but these are things you already know not to do against them. They made it way too easy for the opposition.

AEK Athens FC: AEK made bad mistakes with the handball in the box for the penalty, and a poor kick from Vasilios Barkas for the second goal, just like they’ve done in the rest of the competition. They still have no points, and it’s hard to say they deserve any.

Match to watch: Ajax-Bayern. These two will play it out in Amsterdam to win the group. After seeing their first match in Munich? Yes, please.

Group F

Manchester City FC: City desperately need cover at left back because this game ruthlessly exposed Oleksandr Zinchenko’s deficiencies. John Stones and Aymeric Laporte got caught sleeping for the second goal, and City struggled to break Lyon down the way they do against teams in England. It makes you wonder if they really should be “favorites.”

Olympique Lyonnais: Maxwel Cornet scored two great goals, as well as hitting the angle with an acrobatic effort. However, Lyon was beat on two set pieces by letting David Silva and Sergio Agüero–the two smallest players on the pitch–win headers. That being said, Lyon still took four points out of six from City, which is something to be proud of.

FC Shakhtar Donetsk: Andriy Pyatov got caught in no man’s land twice for Hoffenheim’s goals, but Shakhtar got away with it. They were brilliant going forward as always, and they got the win they deserved after hitting the same post twice.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim: They’ve had late drama in every game they’ve played so far, including this one. The red card was the right decision, and it was an especially dumb challenge for Ádám Szalai to make after getting his first yellow the minute before. They never defended well enough over the course of the whole competition.

Match to watch: Shakhtar-Lyon. Lyon is headed to Shakhtar to try and advance, and Shakhtar needs to try and win it. Looking at both team’s defensive records, there could be plenty of goals in this one.

Group G

Real Madrid CF: They weren’t brilliant, but it seems like Real always find a way in Europe even when they aren’t looking good domestically. That being said, I’m not sure they have someone that you’d always bet will score, and that doesn’t bode well for them in the knockout stages.

AS Roma: A scramble in first half, and an awful miss from Cengiz Ünder are why Roma didn’t score. Mistakes from Robin Olsen and Federico Fazio gave Gareth Bale a gift for the opener. Then Alessandro Florenzi played Lucas Vázquez onside for the second. Those moments made the difference in the match, and Roma was lucky that other mistakes weren’t punished similarly.

FC Viktoria Plzeň: There was plenty of spirit in their fight back. But for the goal they conceded, there’s no reason to take a ball down and turn towards your own goal in your own 18-yard box. They also took an awful penalty.

PFC CSKA Moscow: Igor Akinfeev made a good penalty save, but CSKA’s defending was careless defending. Also, they weren’t clinical aside from the emphatic penalty by Nikola Vlašić. They deserved to lose.

Match to watch: Real Madrid-CSKA Moscow. I still have a lot of questions about Real, and I need them answered. Given that CSKA has already taken three points off of them, this may be a better game than you’d normally think to get from them.

Group H

Juventus: Cristiano Ronaldo looks like he’s figuring out how to play with the rest of Juve’s forwards, as some of the combination play was outstanding. Wojciech Szczęsny came up big when called upon, and Juve managed to see this one out. They still missed plenty of chances and they’ll need to be more clinical in the knockout rounds

Manchester United FC: United looked okay-ish going forward, but they also didn’t create many clear cut chances. When they did, Marcus Rashford looked out of sorts up front, and it still took a David de Gea wonder save and long ball for Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini to get three points. Also, why was José Mourinho so angry when Fellaini scored?

Valencia CF: Valencia was solid in the first half, but once Juve hit another gear in the second half, they were outclassed. Neto was great in goal, but Valencia never looked like winning.

BSC Young Boys: They were second-best the whole match, but they did well to limit clear-cut chances. That being said, at 0-0 late in the game, they have to be more prepared for long balls to Lukaku and Fellaini. Everyone knew it was coming, yet Young Boys still couldn’t stop it.

Match to watch: Valencia-Manchester United. This one will be important because it’ll tell us whether United can truly mount a challenge in the knockout stages, though it likely won’t matter for the group standings.

Teams Qualified: Club Atlético de Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, FC Barcelona, FC Porto, FC Schalke 04, FC Bayern Munich, AFC Ajax, Manchester City FC, Real Madrid CF, AS Roma, Juventus, Manchester United FC

Teams Eliminated: Club Brugge, AS Monaco FC, PSV Eindhoven, Red Star Belgrade, Galatasaray AŞ, FC Lokomotiv Moscow, SL Benfica, AEK Athens FC, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, FC Viktoria Plzeň, PFC CSKA Moscow, Valencia CF, BSC Young Boys

Well, I lowballed how many teams would know their fates for the competition last time. As far as Matchday 6 is concerned, all eyes are on Group C, and nearly everything else is for the sake of completion. The knockout stages are looming, and that’s when this competition really heats up. Also, based on how the group stages have gone so far, I’m not sure there’s a clear favorite.

About Author

Jorge DeNeve Los Angeles native. Still wondering where the Galaxy went wrong and decided buying Jermaine Jones was a good idea.


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