CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ROUND-UP: MATCHDAY VI
Tottenham scales through, Inter Milan finish third..
Inter Milan’s job was straightforward on the final match-day: defeat PSV Eindhoven- a team that had 1 point from 15-at the San Siro, and qualify for the knock-out phase of the competition. Easy, yes? Well, Inter Milan made it extremely difficult for themselves, going a goal down early on, putting themselves under extreme pressure and eventually settling on a draw. Then they had to hope that Barcelona defeated Tottenham Hotspur at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona, on the other hand, had nothing to play for, so fielded a second string side, thereby resting majority of their senior players – Thomas Vermaelen played! Who would have thought!. Barcelona and Tottenham had chances to win but the game ended in a stale-mate after a 1-1 draw eventually meaning that Tottenham and Inter finished on the same points but Tottenham qualifying because of a better head-to-head record.
In obviously the toughest group of the Champions League, Liverpool dug deep and performed brilliantly to qualify for the last 16. They needed to win by two goals if Napoli scored and by one if the managed not to concede. They did the latter. They could have had more, no thanks to Sadio Mane’s profligacy in front of goal. Then Alisson was quick to come off his line to prevent a goal that would have not made us write about Liverpool’s Champions League story in this context. What is really strange about Liverpool qualifying is that they lost three games out of six, finishing with nine points, scoring nine goals and conceding seven. That is not great reading. Things will definitely have to change come the knock-out phases.
Bayern Munich and Ajax serve up classic game..
This was not entirely a ‘dead-rubber’ because Ajax would finish as group winners if they win at the Allianz Arena. However, the game ended in a very entertaining 3-3 draw that had two red cards, two penalties and some very shambolic defending (yes you, Boateng) that ensured we saw three goals in three minutes towards the end. Bayern Munich ended up as group winners but would have to step-up when the big teams (sorry Ajax) come around. The good news is that Kingsley Coman is back and hopefully would be fit for the rest of the season as he is a welcome attacking addition to this current Bayern set-up.
Real Madrid and Roma lose…
Real Madrid just had to get a draw to qualify as first, regardless of the other result between AS Roma and Viktoria Plzen. Ultimately, Real Madrid lost (woefully) partly due to the fact that a lot of key players were rested – no Kroos, Carvajal, Bale, Varane, Modric et al. Still, losing 3-0 to CSKA Moscow at home with your B team tells you that your B team is not that good, no? Luckily, it had no effect on the table at the end of the day but it seems that the Real Madrid first team does not have dependable back-up based on what was displayed in this game (and in previous ones).
Now, we wait for the last 16 draws as teams like Atletico Madrid, Manchester United came second.
Posted by: Abiodun Motunrayo
Email: [email protected]