In the first eight matches of this Champions League matchday, there was plenty of excitement to go around. Some sides like Chelsea have made sure that they’re going through top of the group, while others like Arsenal have complicated their Champions League campaign terribly.
In these eight games, there were 23 goals scored, making for an average of 2.8 goals per game. But what I find very interesting is that in these eight matches, there were four players sent off with red cards! All four sending offs were in the second half of the matches, and three were in the last five minutes. I guess it’s a sign that the tension is rising as teams need to qualify for the next round of the tournament.
The most exciting match which took place today was Roma – Bayern Munich, with the Italian side triumphing at home 3-2. Bayern started the scoring with Gomez taking advantage of shaky Roma defending in the 33rd and 39th minutes, leaving Ranieri’s side in a bit of disarray going into the second half. But Roma came out to win the match in front of their home fans, and Borriello pulled one back four minutes into the second half, then in the 81st minute De Rossi scored to make it 2-2. And in the 84th minute, Roma were awarded a penalty, and their legendary captain Francesco Totti stepped up and scored the winner.
A fantastic match which keeps Roma in second place, three points behind Bayern Munich, and three ahead of FC Basel. FC Basel defeated CFR Cluj at home 1-0, with Alerares scoring the only goal in the 15th minute. Cluj had Piccolo sent off with a direct red card in the 88th minute, and the player will miss their next Champions League match against Roma. So Group E is relatively tight with Roma needing a win if they want to qualify, while Bayern look pretty solid up in first place with a goal difference of +7.
Chelsea faced Zilina at Stamford Bridge, and while they went a goal down in the first half, Ancelotti’s side scored twice in the second half in order to win 2-1. Zilina scored from a quick give-and-go passing move which Bello poked past Turnbull. It was the youngster Sturridge who equalized, and Chelsea began to press on, with Drogba almost scoring from a free kick, and youngster van Aanholt smacking an effort against the post. It was Florent Malouda who scored the winner in the 86th minute for Chelsea, helping his side get their fifth in a row in the Champions League, qualifying them mathematically for first place.
Behind Chelsea which has fifteen points, Olympique Marseille are second with nine, with Spartak Moscow following the french side with six points. Marseille defeated the Russian team comfortably 3-0 in Russia, with Valbuena, Remy, and Brandao scoring the goals while Welliton was sent off for Spartak. While it is mathematically possible for Spartak Moscow to steal Marseille’s second place and qualify for the next round, Marseille have a goal difference of +8, while Spartak’s is -4, so it’s very likely that Chelsea and Olympique Marseille will move on to the next round from Group F.
While Chelsea have qualified to the next round, Arsenal have made their qualification a little more difficult after their away loss to Sporting Braga. It was a 2-0 win for the Portuguese side with Matheus Nascimento scoring both very well taken goals. What will bother Arsenal fans the most is probably the fact that their side conceeded the goals in the 83rd and 90th minutes, and that they’ll probably have to win next Champions League matchday in order to qualify.
This is because Sporting Braga are tied with Arsenal with nine points, with the English side ahead by goal difference. Ahead of both of the sides is Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk which defeated Partizan 3-0, which puts them first with 12 points. Watching all the action from the very bottom of the table is the Serbian side Partizan, the team has only scored one goal, and has zero points, and their chances of picking up some points next matchday are slim, considering that they’ll be facing Arsenal which will be fighting for qualification.
Jose Mourinho will be glad that his team, Real Madrid, conquered first place in the group with a 4-0 away win over Ajax, but he won’t be too glad about the two players which received red cards in the final minutes of the match. Everything was going perfectly all the way until the last five minutes of the match, the Spanish side were 4-0 up with Benzema and Arbeloa on the scoresheet along with Ronaldo who scored twice, of which one of the goals was a penalty.
But in the 87th minute Xabi Alonso gets a second yellow card for time wasting (his first was for throwing the ball away during a stoppage of play), and therefore a red card, and just minutes later Sergio Ramos replicates his teammate and gets sent off for wasting time as well! But Jose Mourinho won’t care too much, especially considering that this win mathematically qualifies his side in first place.
AC Milan have also mathematically qualified for the knockout round in second place after their 2-0 win away from home against Auxerre. And it was Ibrahimovic who scored a fantastic goal, a truly unstoppable rocket which shows that the Swede has been playing wonderfully and scoring plenty of goals to help his side, whether it be in the Champions League, or the Serie A. Ronaldinho got the other goal in the 90th minute, a sly dribbling move finished by a curled left foot shot onto the far post.
What are your thoughts regarding these matches? Will Arsenal qualify? What about Roma? Can they catch Bayern? Share your comments below!