Matchday 2 of the Champions League group stage is within the books and there may be loads to debate, from Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi starring for Manchester United and PSG respectively, to a woeful week for Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.
We requested Gab Marcotti, Mark Ogden and Sam Marsden to reply some massive questions.
Can issues get any worse for Barcelona?
Marsden: They certain can! After their lamentable defeat at Benfica, Barcelona journey to reigning champions Atletico Madrid on Saturday in LaLiga (Three p.m. ET; stream LIVE on ESPN+) after which have house video games towards Valencia, Dynamo Kiev and Actual Madrid after the worldwide break.
There’s a good probability, then, that issues get lots worse earlier than they begin to get higher. The extra urgent query is: will Ronald Koeman nonetheless be in cost on the Wanda Metropolitano this weekend? At a membership in utter disaster, the coach is underneath large stress.
Marcotti: I believe issues will get markedly worse if Koeman loses the assist of the senior gamers. And there is a probability of that occuring, as a result of the choice to withdraw Gerard Pique within the 35th minute was an enormous one. Sure, he had been booked and, sure, he made the kind of foul which might simply have warranted a second yellow. However to take a man like him off in these circumstances means you do not belief him. (To not point out that it resulted in screwing up the midfield, as a result of Frenkie de Jong needed to transfer into defence.) Pique didn’t look joyful.
It is the kind of name you make should you’re 100% assured however I do not see how Koeman may be. If he loses the assist of the senior core of Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, then Barca lose to Atletico Madrid (or just performs badly) there’s an excellent probability he will not be again after the worldwide break.
Ogden: Barca can nonetheless make it out of their group, however don’t have any margin for error after back-to-back defeats to Bayern Munich and Benfica. Whether or not or not it stays Koeman’s staff, they merely must financial institution six factors from the double-header towards Dynamo Kiev after which beat Benfica at Camp Nou, then hope that 9 factors can be sufficient forward of a visit to Bayern.
However that state of affairs is predicated on all the things going proper within the subsequent three video games and no person would threat their unfastened change on Barcelona getting a consequence wherever. So sure, it might probably worsen, however Barca nonetheless have high quality gamers they usually have the expertise to get better.
What else caught your consideration on Matchday 2?
Gab Marcotti: I assumed there have been some nice video games and nice performances, however I wish to speak about refereeing, which was decidedly a blended bag. I believe Kevin De Bruyne ought to have been despatched off for Manchester City vs. PSG however at the very least that did not influence the end result of the sport.
Then there was the officiating within the AC Milan vs. Atletico recreation. That second yellow for Franck Kessie was absurd. Positive, you possibly can blame him for placing himself in that place when he is already been booked, however absolutely it takes greater than that to ship a participant off in the course of the first half of a Champions League recreation. The penalty on the finish was additionally the flawed name and the way you get it flawed with VAR is past me. Thomas Lemar and Pierre Kalulu are very shut to one another and you’ll clearly see the ball coming off Lemar’s arm into Kalulu.
However all that paled compared to the decision on the finish of the Wolfsburg vs. Sevilla recreation. Josuha Guilavogui clears the ball and Erik Lamela runs into his outstretched boot. If you have not seen it, discover it and you will be horrified. The referee did not name it in any respect, it was the VAR who requested him to intervene. Why? I’ve no clue. Nor do I perceive how, after taking a look at it, the referee might nonetheless give a card and a penalty. And it is a disgrace, as a result of total I believe the officiating has been good, particularly in the best way referees have managed to let video games move with out brandishing playing cards or calling petty fouls. However these have been some massive blunders in particular video games.
Mark Ogden: This may occasionally in the end be a fleeting second of unfancied groups making the most of so-called tremendous golf equipment being in a state of flux, however 5 of the groups concerned in plans for a breakaway Tremendous League fewer than six months in the past are outdoors the highest two of their group.
Barcelona had a horrible week and stay pointless on the foot of Group E, Inter and AC Milan are nonetheless winless and Manchester Metropolis and Manchester United, regardless of Cristiano Ronaldo’s 95th-minute winner towards Villarreal for the latter, are third.
Will it final? In all probability not, however the likes of Club Brugge, Atalanta, Benfica and Sheriff Tiraspol have given themselves an opportunity to qualify for the knockout phases, proving that soccer wants drama and uncertainty, relatively than a closed-shop Tremendous League.
Steve Nicol says Lionel Messi made a press release by scoring his first objective for PSG towards a staff of Man Metropolis’s high quality.
Sam Marsden: All eyes have been on Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester Metropolis, however Bayern Munich proceed to go about their enterprise in an efficient method.
It does not want saying anymore, however Robert Lewandowski is a objective machine — he scored twice in a 5-Zero win over Dynamo Kiev — and he has a stellar assist solid, with Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane additionally netting on Wednesday. Below new coach Julian Nagelsmann, Bayern can be determined to avenge final season’s early exit by the hands of PSG.
Which of the winless Milan golf equipment do you give most hope to achieve the final 16, and why?
Ogden: It needs to be Inter. Their subsequent two video games are house and away towards Sheriff Tiraspol and, though the Moldovan champions surprised the world by beating Actual Madrid within the Bernabeu, Inter will now know all the things about them and Sheriff can not depend on shock worth. Inter ought to win each after which look to beat Shakhtar Donetsk at San Siro to qualify.
In distinction, Milan have but to register some extent in Group B and even back-to-back wins towards Porto would go away them counting on Liverpool or Atletico Madrid slipping up, which will not occur. Inter have a a lot simpler path to the spherical of 16, however they must keep away from being the newest Sheriff victims.
Marsden: Inter are higher positioned, however solely due to the relative energy of the 2 teams. Regardless of Sheriff’s heroics in Madrid this week, Simone Inzaghi’s should goal six factors from the back-to-back matches they now have towards the Moldovan champions. In the event that they handle that, a win towards Shakhtar Donetsk on the San Siro ought to see them by. As for Milan, they’re able to taking six factors from Porto, however hauling in Atletico Madrid and Liverpool goes to be robust.
Marcotti: I believe each have performed higher than their outcomes to this point. I suppose you’d lean in the direction of Inter as a result of they’ve one level (relatively than zero) and since they’ve, on paper, a better group. Sheriff are an ideal story, however they scored two world-class objectives on the Bernabeu and nonetheless might have conceded 4 or 5. So it’s important to assume Inter will take all six factors towards Sheriff after which it is Shakhtar at house. By the point they play Madrid once more, they is perhaps dealing with an already certified staff. That stated, given how Milan have performed, I do not assume they’re out of it but.
Gab Marcotti says Sheriff Tiraspol’s win over Actual Madrid is why we watch soccer.
In mild of Sheriff beating Actual Madrid, what was your most memorable group-stage upset?
Marcotti: I am going to go along with BATE Borisov’s 3-1 win over Bayern in 2012-13. Bayern have been managed by Jupp Heynckes and had received 9 in a row in all competitions to start out the season. The yr earlier than, that they had reached the Champions League closing (shedding to Chelsea on penalties) and the German Cup closing (shedding to Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund) and had completed second within the Bundesliga, so that they weren’t missing in motivation. No one knew what nation BATE have been from, a lot much less in the event that they have been any good (Belarus, by the best way.) Nonetheless, Bayern went on to win the Treble that season, so it was only a blip.
Ogden: Fenerbahce’s 1-Zero win towards Manchester United at Outdated Trafford in October 1996 was greater than memorable, it was historic. Previous to that Group C defeat, United had by no means misplaced at house in European competitors; a run that stretched again 40 years to their first marketing campaign in 1956-57. It was a proud document, however one which supervisor Sir Alex Ferguson admitted had change into a burden.
No one anticipated the run to finish towards Fenerbahce, however Elvir Bolic’s 78th-minute objective sealed victory for the Turkish staff. United nonetheless certified from the group and reached the semifinal, the place they misplaced at house once more to that season’s winners, Borussia Dortmund.
Marsden: Celtic’s win over Barcelona at Celtic Park in 2012 was exceptional. Barca, underneath coach Tito Vilanova — who had simply changed Pep Guardiola — have been thought-about the most effective aspect in Europe, with Lionel Messi closing on a 91-goal calendar yr for membership and nation.
Nevertheless, the Scottish aspect scored with two of their three pictures heading in the right direction and, regardless of having simply 16% of the possession, managed to maintain a clear sheet till Messi’s late comfort. The win helped Celtic to qualify out of the group, though they have been dumped out by Juventus within the spherical of 16.