Champion’s League Round-up 5 (Part One)

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar November 25, 2015 17:47

Champion’s League Round-up 5 (Part One)

By Satish Sekar November 25th 2015

Headlines

Barçelona’s 6-1 drubbing of Rudi García’s Roma will dominate the headlines, but should they? The defending champions were in imperious form. A brace each from Lionel Messi, returning from injury and Luis Suárez Díaz – the Uruguayan’s second was a superb volley that gave on loan keeper Wojciech Szczęsny no chance. Adding insult to the thrashing defender Gerard Piqué fancied his chances and netted his tenth Champion’s League goal – a record for a defender.

But Szczęsny’s misery was not yet complete. Suárez was denied a penalty, but a late foul on Neymar resulted in a spot-kick. Despite being on a hat-trick, Messi and Suárez let Neymar take the penalty. Off a very short run-up the Brasilian’s penalty was poor. Szczęsny parried it only for substitute Adriano to score the rebound. There was still time for Marc-André ter Stegen to save Edin Džeko’s penalty – the rebound was cleared. Džeko got a late goal which provided no solace to him or his team.

BATE Borisov and Bayer Leverkusen drew 1-1 in Belarus. Mikhail Gordeichuk gave the hosts a somewhat fortuitous lead after 2 minutes. 66 minutes later Admir Mehmedi equalised. With Cataluña’s finest easily through to the last 16 top of Group E, Roma and Bayer are level on 5 points and BATE just a point behind – the second place and Europa League are up for grabs. Bayer have the difficult task of hosting Barçelona, while BATE travel to the Eternal City for the last round.

Favourites?

Despite being reduced to ten men mid-way through the second half with the dismissal of Holger Badstuber for a professional foul on Brown Ideye, Germany’s champions Bayern München were not to be denied. Douglas Costa, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller had already put Bayern 3-0 up by then against Olympiacos. Recently capped French international Kingsley Coman added a fourth after Badstuber had been sent off.

Bayern are through to the last 16. Dinamo Zagreb were beaten 3-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Mesut Özil steadied Arsenal’s nerves with the opener just before the half hour mark. Copa América winner Alexis Sánchez added another four minutes later and the Chilean striker added a third in the second half.
Olympiacos, despite the defeat, remain best placed to join them from Group F. Arsenal need to beat the Greeks by two goals unless they score three, in which case one will be sufficient to progress. Olympiacos just need to avoid defeat, or limit the damage to qualify. Dinamo require Greeks bearing gifts – defeating Arsenal – and they must beat Bayern in Germany too.

Evenly Poised

Despite the worst start to a season in his career and a bust-up with Diego Costa – soon soothed over, José Mourinho may yet deliver on his seemingly improbable prediction that Chelsea would top Group G. They hammered ten man Macabi Te l Aviv 4-0 in Israel. Former Chelsea favourite Tal ben Haim was sent off for fouling Costa. Gary Cahill had already given the Premier League champions the lead by then.

Another special free-kick from dead ball specialist Willian doubled their lead before headers by Óscar and Kurt Zouma completed the rout. Porto’s 2-0 defeat by Dynamo Kyiv makes it interesting. Andrei Iarmalenko scored the first before Porto’s record-breaking goal-keeper Iker Casillas made a complete hash of Paraguayan defender Derlis González’ effort to double Dynamo’s lead. The Ukrainian champions face Maccabi at home and will be expected to win. That would leave Serhiy Rebrov’s team on 11 points. A draw at Stamford Bridge on December 9th would leave all three teams on the same number of points.

Efficient

André Villas-Boas was considered a failure in English football, yet Zenit St Petersburg boast a perfect five wins out five after beating Valencia 2-0 in Russia. Oleg Shatov gave the Russians the lead, which was doubled by Artem Dzyuba. Valencia’s woes in Group H were amplified by Rúben Vezo’s red card for a professional foul on Shatov and the result in Lyon.

Gent beat Lyon 2-1 thanks to Kalifa Coulibaly’s injury time winner – the last kick of the match. Lyon took the lead after 7 minutes through Jordan Ferri. Gent’s Swiss midfielder Danijel Miličević equalised and it seemed set for a draw until the substitute’s last gasp intervention. Valencia now need a better result than Gent mange in the final group-stage matches. Gent entertain the class of the group Zenit and Valencia host the already eliminated Lyon.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar November 25, 2015 17:47
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