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 Actual Madrid.
We requested Gab Marcotti, Mark Ogden and Sam Marsden to reply some huge 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 (3 p.m. ET; stream LIVE on ESPN+) after which have dwelling video games towards Valencia, Dynamo Kiev and Actual Madrid after the worldwide break.
There’s a good likelihood, then, that issues get so much 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 strain.
Marcotti: I believe issues will get markedly worse if Koeman loses the help of the senior gamers. And there is a likelihood of that occuring, as a result of the choice to withdraw Gerard Pique within the thirty fifth minute was an enormous one. Sure, he had been booked and, sure, he made the form 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 pleased.
It is the form of name you make in the event you’re 100% assured however I do not see how Koeman could be. If he loses the help 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 likelihood he will not be again after the worldwide break.
Ogden: Barca can nonetheless make it out of their group, however haven’t any margin for error after back-to-back defeats to Bayern Munich and Benfica. Whether or not or not it stays Koeman’s crew, they merely should 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 one would threat their free change on Barcelona getting a consequence wherever. So sure, it will possibly worsen, however Barca nonetheless have high quality gamers and so they have the expertise to get better.
What else caught your consideration on Matchday 2?
Gab Marcotti: I believed 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 Metropolis vs. PSG however no less than that did not affect 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 certainly 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 incorrect name and the way you get it incorrect with VAR is past me. Thomas Lemar and Pierre Kalulu are very shut to one another and you may 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 circulate with out brandishing playing cards or calling petty fouls. However these have been some huge blunders in particular video games.
Mark Ogden: This will finally be a fleeting second of unfancied groups benefiting from 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 exterior 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 Ninety fifth-minute winner towards Villarreal for the latter, are third.
Will it final? In all probability not, however the likes of Membership Brugge, Atalanta, Benfica and Sheriff Tiraspol have given themselves an opportunity to qualify for the knockout phases, proving that soccer wants drama and uncertainty, reasonably than a closed-shop Tremendous League.
Steve Nicol says Lionel Messi made a press release by scoring his first purpose for PSG towards a crew 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 would not want saying anymore, however Robert Lewandowski is a purpose machine — he scored twice in a 5-0 win over Dynamo Kiev — and he has a stellar help forged, with Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane additionally netting on Wednesday. Beneath new coach Julian Nagelsmann, Bayern can be determined to avenge final season’s early exit by the hands of PSG.
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Which of the winless Milan golf equipment do you give most hope to succeed in the final 16, and why?
Ogden: It needs to be Inter. Their subsequent two video games are dwelling and away towards Sheriff Tiraspol and, though the Moldovan champions shocked the world by beating Actual Madrid within the Bernabeu, Inter will now know all the things about them and Sheriff can now 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 should keep away from being the most recent Sheriff victims.
Marsden: Inter are higher positioned, however solely due to the relative power 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 powerful.
Marcotti: I believe each have performed higher than their outcomes thus far. I suppose you’d lean in the direction of Inter as a result of they’ve one level (reasonably than zero) and since they’ve, on paper, a better group. Sheriff are a fantastic story, however they scored two world-class targets on the Bernabeu and nonetheless might have conceded 4 or 5. So you need to assume Inter will take all six factors towards Sheriff after which it is Shakhtar at dwelling. By the point they play Madrid once more, they could be dealing with an already certified crew. That mentioned, given how Milan have performed, I do not suppose 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 12 months earlier than, they’d 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, in order that they weren’t missing in motivation. No person 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 1-0 win towards Manchester United at Previous Trafford in October 1996 was greater than memorable, it was historic. Previous to that Group C defeat, United had by no means misplaced at dwelling in European competitors; a run that stretched again 40 years to their first marketing campaign in 1956-57. It was a proud file, however one which supervisor Sir Alex Ferguson admitted had turn out to be a burden.
No person anticipated the run to finish towards Fenerbahce, however Elvir Bolic’s 78th-minute purpose sealed victory for the Turkish crew. United nonetheless certified from the group and reached the semifinal, the place they misplaced at dwelling once more to that season’s winners, Borussia Dortmund.
Marsden: Celtic’s win over Barcelona at Celtic Park in 2012 was outstanding. Barca, underneath coach Tito Vilanova — who had simply changed Pep Guardiola — have been thought of one of the best aspect in Europe, with Lionel Messi closing on a 91-goal calendar 12 months 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.