Friday, 4 October 2013

Tuesday and Wednesday's UEFA Champions League Action:

The second UCL matchday took place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, with all 5 British clubs in action in an interesting two days of fixtures including Celtic vs Barca, Arsenal vs Napoli and Manchester City vs Bayern Munich.

Tuesday's games:

Group E:

Basel 0 Schalke 04 1:
This game was played at St-Jacob's Park as last year's UEFA Europa League semi-finalists Basel hosted a tough Bundesliga side in Schalke.

Schalke ended up winning the match with a slender 1-0 win thanks to German wonderkid and midfielder Julian Draxler who broke the deadlock after 54 minutes and Basel failed to get back into the game after that, with Schalke moving to the top of Group E with 6 points from two games.


Wonderkid: Arsenal midfield target Julian Draxler (centre) scored the winner for Schalke.

Steaua Bucharest 0 Chelsea 4:
The Blues travelled to Romania for their second game in the group stages, with a comfortable and solid display against a weak Steaua side (despite beating Chelsea 1-0 in the first leg of their Europa League tie last season).

Defensive midfielder Ramires scored a brace and midfield legend Frank Lampard also got on the scoresheet for Chelsea, in a dominant display in a game that was marred by controversy as Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho reportedly stormed out of a press conference hours before the game.


Ramires made it 1-0 with a tap-in, taking advantage of some poor goalkeeper positioning.

Power drive: The Brazillian midfielder then scored again with a power strike in the 2nd half

Rout: The score was 3-0 when he scored his second, after an own goal just before half-time
Complete domination: Lampard celebrates his finish to make it 4-0 just before the end of the game
Support: Chelsea players applaud the travelling fans who came to watch on in Romania.

Group F:
Borussia Dortmund 3 Marseille 0:
This game was played at the Signal Iduna Park, as last season's Bundesliga runners-up Dortmund hosted a tough Marseille side who narrowly lost to Arsenal a fortnight ago 2-1 at home in their first group stage match. Meanwhile the hosts (and favourites in the group) suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Napoli. 

This was an important game for both sides, who needed points or they would be confined to the bottom of the group stage table. 

Quick news update: Lewandowski has agreed to sign a pre-contract with Dortmund's rivals Bayern Munich in January ahead of a proposed move in the summer transfer window when his Dortmund contract runs out in June 2014.

He then went on to open the scoring for his current club Dortmund after 19 minutes before young forward Marco Reus made it 2-0 to the hosts just after half-time. Lewandowski completed his brace to give Dortmund all three points with another goal in the 79th minute, this time from the penalty spot.

Top-quality: Lewandowski celebrates his goal to give Dortmund their first three points of the group stage.

Arsenal 2 Napoli 0
The Gunners hosted a tough Napoli side in the "Group of Death" on Tuesday night, fresh from Saturday's 2-1 away win against Swansea which meant they moved back up to the top of the EPL table with 6 games played.

Their Italian visitors meanwhile had only not scored a goal in one game so far this season, and looked dangerous with some new summer signings including Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina (on loan) and Real Madrid winger Jose Callejon. Arsenal target and Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain joined Napoli in the summer also for £32.5million pounds, but was not able to play due to an injury. 

The hosts started the game off brightly, and showed their clinical quality with two quick-fire goals in the space of 15 minutes. First, a well-struck 20-yard drive by world-class German midfielder Mesut Ozil flew past Liverpool goalkeeper (out on-loan) Pepe Reina in the 7th minute gave the club-record signing his first goal since his £42.3million pound move from Real Madrid on deadline day, most importantly in-front of the Arsenal faithful.


Quick start: Ozil fired Arsenal ahead with a bullet strike past Reina (remember him?) 
Home celebrations: Ozil celebrates his first goal for Arsenal with his team-mates.

Then, minutes later French striker Olivier Giroud doubled the scoring for Arsenal at the near post with a subtle tap past Reina into the net after a good pass by Ozil across the box.

The Gunners dominated throughout the game and finally deserved their 2-0 win at home, in the so called "Group of Death".

Group G:

Zenit St. Petersburg 0 Austria Wien 0 

Porto 1 Atletico Madrid 2


Group H:

Ajax 1 AC Milan 1

Celtic 0 Barcelona 1


Wednesday's games:

Group A:
Bayer Leverkusen vs Real Sociedad

Shakthar Donetsk vs Manchester United
This game was played at the Donbass Arena, as Ukrainian side Shakthar Donetsk hosted shaky English side Manchester United, who have only won 2 of their 6 games so far in the EPL and are sitting in 13th place - not good for a side currently in a transition period without long-serving manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

However, David Moyes and his side were desperate for an impressive away win against a side that they have never played against before and they had to do it without English striker and current talisman Wayne Rooney who was unavailable to play due to an injury picked up in training on Tuesday.

Group B:
Juventus vs Galatasaray:
The main story going into this game in Turin was the arrival of former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, who was sacked at the end of last season after some poor results ended with 2nd place behind local rivals Manchester United - he joined Turkish giants Galatasaray on Monday afternoon and became their full-time manager. His first test was a big one, against one of the best footballing sides in the world: Juventus.  
Real Madrid vs FC Copenhagen:
Real Madrid hosted some weak opposition in their second group stage game, playing against Denmark's league champions FC Copenhagen

Group C:
Anderlecht vs Olympiakos:
PSG vs Benfica:

Group D:
CSKA Moscow 3 Viktoria Plzen 2:
The first of Wednesday's games was an early evening game played in Russia, as champions CSKA Moscow hosted Viktoria Plzen. 

The hosts won the game narrowly with a 3-2 win thanks to goals from midfielders Honda and Tosic as well as a Plzen own goal despite a late charge from the away side.


Manchester City vs Bayern Munich:
This game was played at The Ethiad Stadium, with City hosting the Champions League holders Bayern Munich in England. The German side were level on points with Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund coming into this game, and they were hoping for a comfortable win against a side who have struggled in Europe in the two seasons they have participated in (in recent years)

It was an interesting game both on paper and as a footballing spectacle, with both sides having quality both on the pitch and on their respective benches - Bayern having many household names such as Robben and Ribery playing away from home in Manchester.

The favourites to win the game outclassed their hosts, with Bayern comfortable with possession and took their chances well despite two major mistakes by England no.1 Joe Hart at his near post fumbling for the ball - and despite a good consolation strike by Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo in the 80th minute Bayern were unlucky not to go 4 or 5 goals ahead.