Tuesday’s Champions League Review: Schalke Finish Top, Werder Out In Style
With top spot on the line for Schalke, a win was imperative in Portugal against a Benfica side who have looked far from their best in the Champions League. Elsewhere, Werder Bremen were playing for pride in front of their home fans against last year’s European champions, Inter.
SL Benfica 1 – 2 Schalke 04
Get in there Magath! Schalke’s excellent European form has been rewarded with a top-of-the-group finish that will better their chances of reaching the quarter finals of Europe’s elite club competition. The same two goal-scorers who defeated Bayern Munich on the weekend did the damage against Benfica here, and Schalke were unlucky not to be further ahead. Luisao hit the home side’s only consolation. Now, Schalke can rest easy and focus on the Bundesliga until the Champions League returns in the early months of 2011. Magath will be delighted with his side’s performance and their positive form. As long as they can remain consistent, they can push up the table and maybe clinch a European spot for next season with some luck. Still, if anyone can pull it off, it’s Felix Magath!
Werder Bremen 3 – 0 Internazionale
Wow! Rafa Benitez’s Inter have been a shadow of the side we saw under Jose Mourinho last season, and there’s no better evidence of that than this result. Inter’s been plagued by injury and patchy form, and they were undone once more, and this time at the hands of Werder Bremen. Schaaf’s men had already been knocked out of the competition after some really poor results early on, and all they were playing for was pride. Well, with the pressure off, they really got the job done. An Ivan Cordoba own-goal, an excellent left-footed volley from Marko Arnautovic, and a sweet turn and finish from Claudio Pizarro did the damage on the night. That’s three clean sheets in a row for a Werder Bremen side who were woeful in defense just a few weeks ago. Great stuff from the Bundesliga side. The disappointment of an early Champions League exit is softened by this result.