• Tue. Nov 28th, 2023

Champions League Roundup

ByJonathon Smith

Oct 28, 2021

Koeman’s time is surely up

A Barcelona team in name alone, Ronald Koeman’s side suffered an embarrassing 3-0 loss, as a fluent Benfica’s perfect game plan has surely confirmed that Koeman’s days leading the Nou Camp are numbered.

Registering a mere one shot on target, a lack of discipline and quality at the top of the field has left Barcelona without a point after two games, and bottom of their group in the Champions League.

Benfica fully deserved the win. Barcelona had a good period of possession in the last 20 minutes of the second half but simply did not have the quality to break down a strong Benfica defense, who attacked ruthlessly with pace and beautiful passing moves.

Ronaldinho, Iniesta and Messi. What Barcelona used to be could not be further away from what the club is now. 6th in La Liga, facing financial ruin and after this loss a potential Champions League exit, Barcelona are in a position worse than the club has experienced for several years. This loss against Benfica simply rubs salt into the already shattered wounds.

Manchester United, Lucky Again?

At Old Trafford, Cristiano Ronaldo found a priceless last-minute winner for Manchester United to not only take some pressure off manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but also to give United a crucial three points with a much needed 2-1 victory against Villareal.

In a game where most Manchester United fans would be disappointed by the overall performance, a wonderful volley from Alex Telles on the edge of the box combined with a classic ‘Fergie time’ winner will mean most fans will leave delighted with how the night played out.

Villareal were the better side, creating several golden opportunities for the ball to hit the net. Largely, it was the heroics of David de Gea alongside sloppy finishing that kept United in the game.

Once again not a perfect performance. Yet, Manchester United seem to constantly rely on moments of magic from key players, and once again it produced three points. Will this tactic continue to work throughout the season and win Ole his first trophy for the club? Only time will tell.

Juventus Beat Chelsea, does Juventus’ season start now?

With Chelsea’s first loss in a Champions League group game for two years, Massimiliano Allegri guided Juventus to a massive win which could spark the much-needed revival the club needs.

Sitting 10th in Serie A, life without Cristiano Ronaldo for the Turin-based side has proved difficult, with former serial winner Allegri yet to find his best starting eleven.

However, this win will do wonders for the team’s confidence. Having a mere 26% possession at home is nothing to be proud of. But, holding on against a wasteful Chelsea, who had just one shot on target out of their 16, might allow Allegri and his team to gain some momentum as the domestic season continues.

Chelsea have had a strong start to the Premier League, but this wasteful performance has shown, just as the loss to Manchester City did, that this Chelsea team is more than capable of not turning up for the big games.

Club Brugge are yet to lose. Are they the dark horse of Group A?

Within the context of Manchester City, Paris Saint Germain, and RB Leipzig, one would be forgiven for expecting Club Brugge to be the whipping boys of a very competitive group A.

However, they have proven to be a side more than capable of challenging and competing against Europe’s elites.

Playing to their opposition perfectly, Club Brugge have had less possession and committed more fouls in their two games so far. Playing the tactical approach of sitting back and soaking up pressure, Club Brugge had more shots than PSG in their 1-1 draw before successfully beating RB Leipzig 2-1 away from home this week.

Could they qualify from the group? Well, back-to-back games against Manchester City will be telling of whether Brugge have the defensive capabilities to qualify. However, if they could gain a point out of those two games and if PSG slipped up against a transitioning RB Leipzig, we could see Manchester City or PSG have to rely on qualifying as the best third-place team to progress from the group. 

Image Credit: Richard Mulder