Barca and Liverpool don’t look like winning the Champions League this year (Matchday 2)

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Barcelona stumble, Drogba runs riot and Liverpool play…well, like they always do – brilliant and frustrating in equal measures.

Matchday 2 – Top Goals

Two goals from two days – Manchester United’s lightning fast counter-attack against Benfica, and Peter Crouch’s amazing strike against Galatasaray.

United’s goal was the only instance when things actually worked for them on the pitch against Benfica – and despite it coming off a deflection, this goal (and the win) will do a lot for United’s confidence for future CL games.

Liverpool, on the other hand, need their heads checked. Sitting 3-0 at home just after half-time, they manage to concede twice in 6 minutes. A third goal would have been ironic but just – Pool lost their away and almost cracked under the pressure. Oh well, at least they scored.

Wednesday’s Scores

Group A

Levski Sofia 1-3 Chelsea
Werder Bremen 1-1 Barcelona

Group B

Spartak Moscow 1-1 Sporting Lisbon
Inter Milan 0-2 Bayern Munich

Group C

Bordeaux 0-1 PSV Eindhoven
Liverpool 3-2 Galatasaray

Group D

Shahktar Donetsk 2-2 Olympiakos
Valencia 2-1 Roma

Wednesday’s Highlights

Levski Sofia 1-3 Chesea

3 typical Drogba goals – opportunistic, scrappy and ultimately crucial. The ugliest hitman in the Premiership taken on Ruud van Nistelrooy’s mantle as a goal-machine and adds a physical dimension to his game (plus a willingness to drop deep) that the Dutchman lacked. Chelsea owe their early successes to him as much as they have owed the last two seasons to Lampard, Terry, Gallas, Makelele and Cech.

Once Joe Cole is restored to the lineup, expect Drogba and co. to go flying in the Champions League. I wouldn’t put money on Liverpool stopping them in the Premiership, Arsenal will stumble again this season while United are, on paper, not good enough.

Then again, neither is Didier Drogba.

Inter Milan 0-2 Bayern Munich

The heavy-weight clash proved nothing, as Inter were left with 9 men on the field after 90 minutes. Bayern were their clinical selves, while Inter are the most embarrassing Serie A champions in recent history.

As Cannavaro said – they know they don’t deserve their medals, they know the pressure is on them to prove that they are worthy. And even if they win this year, it will be against a Milan crippled by a points penalty, and no Juve (a team that has been gutted). They’ll never be able to prove their worth, and that type of pressure can weigh you down.

Inter will leak many more goals this season in Europe – can’t see them going on to win at this rate.

Tuesday’s Scores

Group E

Real Madrid 5-1 Dynamo Kyiv
Steaua Bucharesti 0-3 Lyon

Group F

Benfica 0-1 Manchester United
Celtic 1-0 FC Copenhagen

Group G

CSKA Moscow 1-0 Hamburg
Arsenal 2-0 Porto

Group H

AEK Athens 1-1 Anderlecht
Lille 0-0 AC Milan

Tuesday’s Highlights

Real Madrid 5-1 Dynamo Kyiv

Real Madrid were simply awesome as their wealth of attacking talent finally clicked into gear. 3 goals in the first half (RVN, Raul, Reyes) killed the game, and Madrid could afford to concede a goal and stroll to a 5-1 win. Capello will be aware that this side can do much better, and the return game with Lyon now takes added significance not only for pride but because Madrid will believe they can win and take the top spot in the group.

It was ironic that RVN scored Madrid’s first off a typical poacher’s effort – the type of chances that have fallen Manchester United’s way several times this season (most noticeably in the last two games against Benfica and Reading) with no one there to put them away. Are United missing RVN? Most definitely.

Benfica 0-1 Manchester United

But in the Dutch master’s absence, the club has found a new talisman – Cristiano Ronaldo. Against Benfica Manchester United were frustratingly juvenile but Ronaldo’s attacking verve and the team’s dogged defense (shored up by Neville, Heinze and a haggard-looking van der Sar) helped us to a scrappy, unconvincing win.

On any other day, United’s second half performance would have received scorn and ridicule. But such was the improvement in the second 45 minutes over the first (despite a tendency to mishit passes) that you would have thought it was a whole new game.

Matchday 2 Preview

The second round of Champions League group games kicks off tonight with most teams looking to ‘find form’ and a few (the usual suspects being Chelsea, Milan, Barcelona and Lyon) looking to maintain advantage.

News Headlines

    • Ronaldo returns to the Real Madrid squad, but the move looks more of a morale-booster and useful training for the Brazilian than anything else.


    • Mourinho says that Levski Sofia will be playing to win, especially at their home debut of the Champions League. He also plays down their favourite status, saying that he would be happy with a 1-0 win. Classic Mourinho, don’t read anything in it.


    • Benitez has not fielded the same lineup for over 90 matches. Considering that they won their last two matches and are on a mini-rise in form, a win against the Turks will be the only consistency on show for Liverpool.


  • Benfica have been talking a brave game, and they’re well-inclined to – out of the top four, Manchester United look the most vulnerable, even if they have built their reputations on playing better than their individual abilities suggested. Can hardly wait for the game.

UEFA Champions League 2006 Matchday 2 Fixtures

All games are played at the following times (except the CSKA Moscow vs Hamburg game, which starts at 1730 BST):

1345 EST
1845 GMT
1945 BST
2045 CET
2345 PST
0015 IST

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Real Madrid vs Dynamo Kiev (E)
Steaua Bucharesti vs Lyon (E)
Benfica vs Manchester United (F)
Celtic vs FC Copenhagen (F)
Arsenal vs Porto (G)
CSKA Moscow vs Hamburg (G)
AEK Athens vs Anderlecht (H)
Lille vs AC Milan (H)

Wednesday, 27 September

Werder Bremen vs Barcelona (A)
Levski Sofia vs Chelsea (A)
Inter Milan vs Bayern Munich (B)
Spartak Moscow vs Sporting Lisbon (B)
Bordeaux vs PSV Eindhoven (C)
Liverpool vs Galatasaray (C)
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Olympiakos (D)
Valencia vs Roma (D)

Matches to Watch

I’ll only be able to watch the Manchester United – Benfica game live (of course, what did you expect?), but I’m expecting coverage of all matches involving the four Premiership clubs. In addition, the best goals will be up by Thursday morning, that is assuming that any good goals are scored 🙂

Nearly all Champions League matches (even the group ones) have some history or interesting backstory to them, but here are the key clashes:


Real Madrid vs Dynamo Kiev (E)

On paper this is a match that Real Madrid should win easily. However, following their defeat at the hands of Lyon, Madrid are already on the backfoot in the Champions League and find themselves chasing the second qualification spot in Group E. Kiev can put a spanner in the works if they play a tough physical game, and while Madrid have shown decent form in La Liga, Kiev will fancy their chances if they can kill the game by playing defensively.

If Madrid lose, it will be hell for Capello’s men.

Benfica vs Manchester United (F)

A match about redemption and honour for Manchester United. United’s recent league form (1 point from 2 games) should not have much of a bearing on this match. Should be one of the toughest, most physical battles of the night.


Inter Milan vs Bayern Munich (B)

Inter have had more than their share of luck in domestic and european competitions this season, and while Munich are not in top gear themselves they always seem to kick themselves up a notch for the Champions League, and this battle for Group B’s top spot should go down to the wire.

Valencia vs Roma (D)

Clash of the heavyweights in Group D. Both teams are enjoying good domestic form and will be vying for the top spot in their group. Along with Inter v Munich, match of the night.

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