Champions League QF 2nd Leg Review Part 1

MIND BLOWING!

Man City 1 vs. 2 Liverpool (1-5)

City had it all to do in the 2nd leg and Pep selected a very attacking lineup of 3-1-3-3, Liverpool had the same starting 11 as the 1st leg with the only exception being Wijnaldum who came in for a suspended Henderson. The game started of brilliantly for Manchester City as they managed to score via Jesus in the 2nd minute. Much like the Manchester derby on Saturday, City dominated the first half with Liverpool having no shots on goal and barely being able to string two passes together. There was contentious decision late in the first half when Milner scored an own goal but was saved by the linesman who ruled it offside. A half that had seen 5 yellow cards dealt to players was followed by Pep being sent to the stands at half time for engaging with the referee. 

Similar to United in the second half, Klopp seems to have given a rallying team talk as Liverpool started to play like they had at Anfield. The pressure seemed to be mounting on City and that led to several misplaced passes by them. The break came in the 56th minute when Firmino ran through on goal and fumbled only for Salah to pick up the pieces and finish to give Liverpool a very important away goal. Now needing to score four goals City players deflated and Firmino added a second in the 77th minute to give Liverpool the win and a place in the Champions League semi finals. 

A 3rd straight defeat for City in the space of a week, and they play Spurs at Wembley next. City definitely deserve to be Premier League champions this season, but what the last week has shown us is that they lack experience, and that they are beatable. It could be a tough few weeks for City ahead, while Liverpool will be fancying their chances against any team that they come up against. 

Roma 3 vs. 0 Barcelona (4-4)

I feel vindicated. If a neutral watched the round of 16 legs between Chelsea and Barcelona, he or she would not deny that Chelsea lost due to poor finishing, bad luck, and Messi’s desire to get one over the team from London. The first leg score of 4-1 in Rome was more than flattering to Barcelona as mistakes and poor finishing by Roma again gave them the advantage. 

Roma needed to score 3 without reply to qualify for the semi’s, and Roma scored 3 without reply to qualify for the semi’s. It was one of those nights for Roma where they gave a near perfect performance and where Barca never really looked like they would score. A goal in the 6th minute by Edin Dzeko set up Roma for the comeback, and while Barca kept them out for the rest of the second half, although they continued to attack. 

Unlike City, Roma started the second half in the same fashion that they played the first half and in the 58th minute Dzeko was able to get a penalty after good centre forward play in the box. De Rossi hammered the ball into the net leaving Roma one goal away from turning the tie on its head. That goal came in the 82nd minute as Manolas scored a magnificent header to send Roma to the semi’s. 

There is no doubt that Barca are going to win La Liga and they have literally gone undefeated domestically. In Europe Barca have been suspect and in the last few weeks Messi has rescued Barcelona on multiple occasions. Messi did not show up in Rome and Roma tore Barcelona apart. They might be undefeated but this Barcelona team can not be compared to the great sides that came in the past. 

Roma much like Liverpool have vanquished one of the favourites for this season and no one will want to play them over two legs. 

Weekend Football Review

City can bottle it too!

Premier League MW 33

Everton 0 vs. 0 Liverpool 

With Salah out and several players rested for the upcoming Champions League game Liverpool still fielded a decent team. Everton fielded a strong lineup but were denied by Karius who made a few good saves. The draw means that Liverpool are tied with Spurs and only ahead on goal difference with Spurs having a game in hand. Everton are 9th and are safe for the season. 

Bournemouth 2 vs. 2 Crystal Palace 

Bournemouth for the second week in a row managed to gain a point in the final minute of the game. A second half free kick by Milivojević gave Palace the lead. Mousset equalised in the 65th. Zaha then gave Palace the lead again with a good finish in the 75th minute. Finally in the 89th minute King was able to fumble the ball into the net via a cross. Crystal Palace’s defence has let them down over the past few weeks and that has caused them to drop important points. Palace sit 3 points above the relegation zone while Bournemouth edge closer to 40 points and safety. 

Brighton 1 vs. 1 Huddersfield 

Lossl scored an own goal to give Brighton the lead midway through the second half. Mounie was able to score in the 32nd minute for Huddersfield to get back in the game. A red card to Pröpper in the second half was not enough to give an advantage to Huddersfield and both teams finished with a point. Brighton continue to edge towards safety while Huddersfield sit 16th. 

Leicester 1 vs. 2 Newcastle 

Goals by Shelvey and Pérez in each half were enough to gain all 3 points for Newcastle while Leicester did manage to get one back via Vardy late on. Newcastle have begun to gain momentum and now sit 10th, 2 points of 40 points. Leicester are still 8th but now 6 points off Burnley in 7th. 

Stoke City 1 vs. 2 Tottenham 

Tottenham fielded a strong lineup and continued their winning streak after Eriksen gave them the lead in the second half. Diouf was able to equalise a few minutes later and while the first half was a stalemate the second half was entertaining. Eriksen finished well to get 3 points for Tottenham in the 63rd minute. Spurs 3 points take them to 10 ahead of Chelsea in 5th and tied with Liverpool in 3rd. Stoke stay 19th 4 points off safety. 

Watford 1 vs. 2 Burnley

A stale first half performance by both teams led to a lively second half. 2 goals in 3 minutes by Vokes and Cork were enough to give Burnley the win after Pereyra had given Watford the lead in the 63rd minute. Watford are 12th with 37 points while Burnley remain 7th with 49 points. 

West Brom 1 vs. 1 Swansea 

Goals came in the second half when Rodriguez scored to give West Brom the lead. Tammy Abraham was able to equalise for Swansea in the 75th minute. West Brom remain bottom of the table having ended their losing streak. Swansea are 16th. 

Man City 2 vs. 3 Man United 

This game was up their with Liverpool vs City as the best game of the season. Man city needed 3 points to confirm them as champions for the season and there was no better way than to beat your city rivals. A blitz by City in the first half gave them a 2 goal advantage after Kompany and Gündogan had scored. Sterling could have easily scored two more goals to give City a 4 goal advantage at the break but it was not to be. To say United were poor in the first half would be an under statement, during halftime Mourinho apparently asked the players whether they wanted to be clowns while City went on to win the title. The answer was clearly no as two goals in two minutes by Pogba brought United back into the game, and a 69th minute finish by Smalling ensured the three points and remarkable come back for United. 

Two defeats in two for City and a second leg against a rested Liverpool side to come. City deserve to be champions this season but the debate on whether they are the greatest ever Premier League side has taken a major hit in the last week. With this win United and Mourinho have set a marker for next season and have shown proved that United have not lost their touch. 

Arsenal 3 vs. 2 Southampton 

Many thought that this would be a walk in the park for Arsenal but Southampton were the team to score first after Long gave them the lead in the 17th minute. A good finish by Aubameyang and deflected shot by Welbeck gave Arsenal the advantage going into half time. Southampton managed to equalise in the 73rd minute via Charlie Austin, but after Welbeck had failed to convert a very a good chance he managed to redeem himself by getting Arsenal all 3 points in the 81st minute. Red cards were given to Elneny and Stephens for altercations of the ball. Arsenal remain 6th although just 3 points off Chelsea while Southampton are still in the relegation zone at 17th. 

Rest of Europe

Real Madrid 1 vs. 1 Atletico Madrid

Goals in the second half by Ronaldo and Griezmann earned both teams a point in what was a game that was dominated by Real. A draw means that Real drop down to 4th, 4 points off Atletico in 2nd, while Atletico are 11 points off Barcelona who might have sealed the La Liga title this week. 

Chelsea 1 vs 1 West Ham Review

Another game week and another comeback from the opposing team. 

Stamford Bridge celebrated the remarkable person that was Ray Wilkins yesterday on what was an emotional day for everyone who followed Chelsea Football Club. 

The game in itself was in keeping with Chelsea’s form in 2018. Personally I feel that Conte got the lineup wrong, Barkley and Emerson should have played in place of Fabregas and Moses. Never the less the players showed that they were ready to fight for something and for much of the first half we dominated the game. 3 great chances in the opening 30 mins should have been easily dispatched by Chelsea’s front three but we were not clinical enough and West Ham continued to survive. A 36th minute corner brought the opening goal for Chelsea after what was scruffy defending on West Ham’s part, Azpilicueta was the most alert player and was able to nick the goal, and his celebration was a touching gesture to Ray Wilkins. 

Chelsea started the second half in the same fashion as they did in the first half, plenty of possession but no real end product and a failure to convert chances when they appeared. Watching the game you got the sense that the longer West Ham were able to keep it 1-0 the more panicked Chelsea would get. At the 70th minute a certain Javier Hernandez came on for West Ham and I had a gut feeling that he would do what he always did against Chelsea and score. Score he did in the 73rd minute after a poor clearance from Cahill. West Ham had the goal they needed and managed to see out the game while Chelsea continued to reach the West Ham box without creating any real threat. A good header by Giroud late on was saved brilliantly by Joe Hart. 

Where does this draw leave Chelsea? We are now 10 points behind 4th place spurs and 3rd place Liverpool, although we do have a game in hand against the reds. Liverpool did draw their game this week but if Chelsea do not win their games it does not matter what other teams do. Arsenal are now 3 points behind us and honestly it seems like a fight to stay in 5th place. 

In his post match press conference Conte restated the facts about being clinical and lacking desire and needing to work, and suffer but even he ended it by saying that he was tired of asking the same things from his players every single week. 

As far as West Ham are concerned, this draw takes them to 14th and 6 point so the relegation zone and with games to play against a few other top 6 sides this was a vital point earned for them.

For me this season is over, Conte mentioned it from the beginning that this season would be tough, but to not be able to beat teams in the bottom half of the table is unacceptable. A different team seems to have come into 2018, one that lacks the capability to finish and, resilience to defend, these were qualities that got us the title last season. All Chelsea can do is focus on the ending the season the best way possible and then we will see what follows. 

Champions League Review Part 2

ANFIELD!!

Liverpool 3 vs. 0 Man City

After the two fixtures between these teams in the premier league this champions league tie was always going to be a feisty one. Liverpool supporters hounded the city team bus as they arrived at Anfield, and while throwing glass bottles and damaging the bus can not be condoned the atmosphere created on arrival is what makes football special and would have intimidated even the greatest of players. It is said that European nights at Anfield are a spectacle to behold and last night was another one to be added to the list. 

As You’ll Never Walk Alone was belted out by Liverpool fans the two teams took their positions on the pitch and the game began. City were alert and on the front foot in the opening ten minutes of the game, while Liverpool were quick to close down every single City player in possession of the ball. At the 12th minute a poor cross field pass by Sané was intercepted by the Liverpool defense, Liverpool did what they do best and broke forward with Salah who passed the ball into Firmino. Firmino’s shot was saved by Ederson only to Walker who failed to clear the ball, Salah was on hand to smash the ball in the goal and Liverpool led by a goal. As the momentum began to swing in Liverpool’s favor Chamberlain was able to break from midfield to score from outside the box to make it 2-0 to Liverpool in the 20 min. The blitz continued to take place and lobbed pass in the box from Salah was headed in the goal by Mané to give Liverpool 3 goals in 30 min. The rest of the first half continued in similar fashion as City were not able to get to grips with the game as they tried to repel attack after attack from Liverpool. 

While the first half showcased Liverpool’s strength in attack, the second half portrayed their stubborn defence as City dominated possession for 45 minutes without ever posing any real threat to the Liverpool goal. Robertson did bring down Sterling in the box late on for what looked like a penalty, but it was waved away. Full time brought an end to another memorable night at Anfield. 

The three fixtures between the two teams shows that Klopp and Liverpool learned and progressed from every single game played. Losing 5-0 at the Etihad, winning 4-3 at Anfield, and now winning 3-0 at Anfield. While Pep has brought his style of play to City, his approach of all out attack has gone wrong on occasion throughout his career. City need a minimum of 3 goals without reply at the Etihad next week, and while they are more than capable of doing that Liverpool will also fancy their chances of getting an away goal or two. City might be dominating the Premier League, last night proved that they are a long way away from having any real pedigree in Europe. 

Barcelona 4 vs. 1 Roma

The scoreline would suggest a dominant performance by Barcelona at home, but it could not be far from it. The first two goals were own goals scored by De Rossi, and Manolas while the rest were scored by Piqué and Suarez in the second half. Džeko was able to get an away goal for Roma but the damage was already done. 

Barcelona have coasted through La Liga this season but recent performances have shown a team that have struggled to get the points they need and they have relied on luck as much as skill. 

While 4-1 might seem to be an unassailable task for Roma they should be encouraged by the fact that Barcelona were definitely not in control for much of the game. Barcelona could go through to the semi’s but they are definitely not favourites to win the Champions League.  

Champions League Review Part 1

Ronaldo!!

Juventus 0 vs. 3 Real Madrid 

Similar to last seasons Champions League Final Juventus capitulated to Real Madrid and a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. 

As early as the 3rd minute Isco received the ball on the left and crossed it into the box for Ronaldo to apply a poacher’s finish. The rest of the first half petered out as both teams fought for position without really posing any threat to each other. 

Madrid showed up in the second half with another gear to their play, they dominated position and attacked the Juventus goal with consistency. The breakthrough came in the 64th minute when a rare misunderstanding between Buffon and Chiellini allowed Ronaldo to get in on goal. Buffon was able to recover but Ronaldo kept it alive and the ball fell to Carvajal on the right, Carvajal whipped in a cross and Ronaldo scored a goal of the season contender with a bicycle kick to give Real Madrid a comfortable lead. Dybala was sent off in the 66th minute for a second yellow, and in the 72nd minute brilliant interplay between Marcelo and Ronaldo ended with a good finish by Marcelo to give Madrid a 3rd away goal. 

In all honesty the tie is most likely over. For Juventus to stand a chance to make a comeback they would have required at least two goals to be scored on their behalf. They now will go to the Bernabéu needing to score a minimum of three goals without reply from Madrid to take the fixture to extra time. 

Ronaldo is now the leading goal scorer in Europe this season and has silenced anyone who doubted his ability. Madrid and Zidane are on course to reach the semis of this seasons Champions League. 

Sevilla 1 vs. 2 Bayern Munich 

Sevilla once again proved that they are no push overs in this season’s Champions League with an impressive attacking performance in Seville, only to be edged out by a resilient display by Bayern. 

One yellow card each in the first 15 minutes set off what turned out to be balanced fixture. Sevilla gained the lead in the 32nd minute when a Escudero cross was smartly finished by Sarabia on the left hand side. Whether Sarabia had handled the ball in his first touch is debatable, but nevertheless the goal was given. 

Ribéry had been causing problems down right side throughout the game and an attempted cross in the 37th minute led to an goal by Navas to bring Bayern back into the game give them a crucial away goal. 

The second half was equally balanced but a Ribéry cross in the 68th minute was headed home by Alcântara to give Bayern the win and two away goals to take to Munich. 

The fixture at the moment is in favour of Bayern Munich who have been dominant all season at home. Sevilla need to score a minimum of two goals in Munich if they are to stand a chance of winning the game. Bayern will feel confident with the away goals and a solid defensive display at home to compliment a goal or two could be enough to take them to semi final.