Champions League Roundup
CSKA Moscow 0-1 Bayern Munich
Yes, there are some who are going to say that we were unimpressive or out of form. Some are going to say that CSKA should be proud to be able to hang with the Big Bad Bavarian Beasts. Hogwash. We thoroughly and utterly demolished them up and down the field. I can count on one hand the number of actual legit goal scoring opportunities CSKA had. For us? I had to check to the stats. It was 16. At least, that's how many saves Akinfeev had to make to keep this one from becoming a real laugher. We completed 822 passes with 90% accuracy to CSKA's 174. Let that sink in for a moment. That's nearly 5 TIMES as many passes to go along with 77% possession, 12 corners (to CSKA's 2) and 21 shots (to their 11). We controlled this game start to finish with a few minor hiccups, which Neuer bailed us out of beautifully.
Tip O' The Cap: Arjen Robben. Moved with ease along CSKA's left flank and gave their back line nightmares. Such a shame he didn't get on the score sheet.
Subtle Golf Clap: Xabi Alonso. Directed the flow in the midfield. Like. A. Boss. Calmly and coolly directed the attack and had a few quality set pieces as well.
Standing Ovation: Robert Lewandowski. Was a bull in the middle. Only some indecision, poor luck and outstanding defense by his counterpart Georgi Schennikov kept him from getting at least a brace.
Meister Of The Match: Mario Götze. Took some ill advised shots and missed a couple opportunities (find me a Bayern player who didn't), but he did draw the PK and was dangerous as he went in and out of the penalty area, harassing their D. He seems to have found a whole other gear as this is his 3rd straight Meister.
APOEL 1-1 Ajax
Two goals within about three minutes of each other brought the score 1-1. They played a largely uneventful affair after that as Ajax couldn't secure the win at home against the Cypriots, despite largely outplaying them and conceding the only goal off of a PK. APOEL has got to feel good about going into Amsterdam and coming away with a point
BATE Borisov 2-1 Athletic Bilbao
Denis Polyakov smashed home a goal off the corner to open the scoring for BATE. They then made it 2-0 when a shot from Alex Karmitskiy deflected off the Bilbao defender in the 41'. However, just before the half, Aritz Aduriz brought them back to within one goal. BATE would hold on to complete their first victory over Spanish opposition in history. This is not together unsurprising as Bilbao haven't won an away match in European competition since 1956.
Manchester City 1-1 AS Roma 1
Aguero scored off a penalty kick in the 4' to get things started for City. However, it would be Totti who would equalize for Roma to become the oldest scorer in CL history. Roma, Gervinho in particular, would continue to harass the Man City back line which seemed in shambles for most of the game, but ultimately got the job done. A draw here is the best possible scenario for Bayern as we now sit all alone at the top of the group.
Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 FC Barcelona
David Luiz scored a goal from inside the penalty area in the 10' off a free kick to become the first player to score against Barca this CL season. Messi however, did his best Messi impression 90 seconds later to equalize with a brilliant strike. In the 27' however, PSG answered back off a corner from Marco Verratti. PSG again showed that they are just fine without Zlatan as Blaise Matuidi buried one to make it 3-1. Neymar, however, would answer right back with a strike in traffic in the 56' to bring them back to within 1. Barca would continue to press the attack and had several golden chances to equalize, but PSG's scrappy defense would not yield as they managed to preserve the win at home in front of Beckham and Jay-Z.
Schalke 1-1 Maribor
Maribor continued their cinderella run through the first half of the game as Damjan Bohar ripped a massive strike for Maribor to make it 1-0. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar would then equalize in the 56'. That would be where the scoring would end despite several chances on both sides. Schalke has got to be disappointed with the result, but Maribor has that plucky upstart feel to it. They are a surprisingly scrappy side
Shakhtar Donetsk 2-2 Porto
A scoreless first half was made possible by a saved PK from Shakhtar keeper Andriy Pyatov. In the second half, Shakhtar broke through on a strike from just outside the box from Alex Teixeira. Poor defending would do Porto in again in the 85' as Luis Adriano made it 2-0 to Shakhtar. Jackson Martinez converted a PK in the 89' to bring Porto to within one off a really blatant handball in the zone by Shakhtar. In stoppage time, it was Jackson Martinez again who equalized for Porto as they manage to save a point at home.
Sporting Lisbon 0-1 Chelsea
Nemanja Matic broke through for Chelsea in the 34' with a brilliant header. Chelsea would then seem to hit the cruise control button from there, as they did just about everything they could to let Sporting back in the game. Chelsea, however, never did let in the equalizer as they earned a hard fought victory against a Sporting side who never seemed to go away.
Zenit 0-0 Monaco
Not much to talk about with this match. Zenit pretty much needed 3 points here against a largely weakened Monaco side, but couldn't get anything through. I usually don't spend a whole lot of time recapping nil-nil draws and this time is no different.
Anderlecht 0-3 Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund walked in to Brussels looking to secure a solid away win and get back to licking their wounds. Well, they didn't have to wait long as Shinji Kagawa fed Ciro Immobile with a great chip in the zone in the 3' to get the scoring started. Dortmund knew they would probably need more as they had only been able to keep 1 clean sheet in their last 14 CL matches, and Anderlecht looked close to equalizing in the 16' but Roman Weidenfeller stood tall. The 1-0 scoreline looked like it was going to hold until Adrian Ramos came on for Dortmund and almost immediately banged home a beautiful cross from Lukas Piszczek to make it 2-0. 10' later it was Ramos again who laid a fantastic strike off a centering pass from Aubameyang who had a great run himself down the left flank. Dortmund would cruise from there to secure the clean sheet and an all important 3 points away.
Malmo 2-0 Olympiakos
Malmo looked for a crucial victory at home against an Olympiakos side who were strongly favored to advance. If Malmo wanted any chance to advance themselves, they needed to secure a victory here. Malmo took full advantage of some terrible defending from Olympiakos in the 42' which Markus Rosenberg drilled home. The cinderella story would continue as Rosenberg again scored for Malmo to secure his well earned brace in the 82' to delight the home town crowd and seal the massive upset for Malmo. It was their first victory in European Cup competition in 25 years.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Juventus
The champions of Spain and the champions of Italy met in what figured to be a fantastic game in Madrid. They certainly did not disappoint. It was a physical, defensive, hard fought victory for Atletico. Just the type of win we've come to expect from Diego Simeone's squad. They would have to wait until the 75' to get the game winning goal off a cross that Mario Mandzukic whiffed on, but fell right at the feet of Arda Turan who easily put it past Gianluigi Buffon to secure the victory for Atletico. It was the first goal Buffon had conceded since the world cup against Diego Godin who, ironically, also plays for Atletico. All in all, a fantastic game in which both teams should be proud of the way they played,
FC Basel 1-0 Liverpool
Basel came in to their home stadium at St. Jakob looking to further their reputation as European Giant Killers. Just after half time, it was Marco Streller who banged home a rebound from Liverpool keeper Mignolet off a corner to whip the Swiss crowd into a frenzy. From there, Liverpool's attacks were turned away again and again by a clearly energized Basel side as they managed hold off the Scousers and earn the stunning upset.
Ludogorets 1-2 Real Madrid
The Bulgarian side got to host the Galacticos at home, hoping and praying for any way to slow down Ronaldo who is off his best start ever. They certainly got the home crowd screaming as they jumped out to an early lead from Marcelinho in the 6' to shock Real and bring it to 1-0. It all looked to come crashing down when Ronaldo was granted a PK in the 10' only be stopped cold by the Ludogorets keeper, Stoyanov. The refs however, would clearly not allow Real to lose as they granted Ronaldo ANOTHER PK in the 25' which he converted to bring it level at 1-1. Ludogorets deserved all the credit in the world for how they played Real for the next 50'. They cleared away anything and everything Real threw at them and even generated some quality chances themselves. However in the 77', off of a cross from Marcelo, a Ludogorets defender fell over and allowed Karim Benzema to bang it home from inside the box. It was unfortunate for Ludogorets, but sometimes, one mistake is all it takes against a squad like Real for them to make you pay. It wasn't all sunshine and roses for Real, however, as Ronaldo had to leave the game early grimacing in pain. Of course, that could just be his regular look. He always looks like he's grimacing about something.
Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 Benfica
Leverkusen looked to prove that they belong among the big boys not only in Germany but in Europe as well. Well, in order to do that, you have to beat quality-but-not-well-known sides like Benfica, especially at home. Leverkusen would continue their incredibly strong start as Kiessling made the Benfica keeper pay for a mistake on the rebound off a shot from Son Hueng-Min in the 25' to make it 2-0. Son, clearly tired of setting up his teammates, decided to smash home a brilliant strike from distance off a feed from Bellarabi to make it 2-0. Hakan missed an absolutely golden chance to make it 3-0 but sent his short range shot wide left. It will surely make the rounds on Sports Center's Not So Top 10. That is, IF ESPN cared about Soccer. Benfica certainly does care about soccer as they brought it back to within 1 off a blast from Salvio. This is usually where Leverkusen folds like a cheap suit, but this new Roger Schmidt coached side said "Neverkusen? NEIN!!!" as they kept battling back. Hakan managed to redeem himself by converting a PK to finish off Benfica and secure the 3-1 victory.
Arsenal 4-1 Galatasaray
Galatasaray came in to north London looking for their first win on English soil in their last 10 tries. Danny Welbeck broke through on a feed from Alexis Sanchez in the 21' to open his CL scoring account and put Arsenal up 1-0. Welbeck wasn't done as he picked off an errant Galata pass in the 30' and made a great solo run down the left side which he banged home to make it 2-0. The Galatasaray fans would embarrass themselves by firing several flares onto the pitch and causing a stoppage of play, and a desperate plea from their own player Wesley Sneijder to stop effing around. I know it's not match related, but I felt it was worth being mentioned. Just before the half, Mesut Ozil found Alexis Sanchez with a great through ball which Sanchez dutifully finished from the left side of the pitch, AGAIN, to make it 3-0. Danny Welbeck sealed off his hat trick in the 51' off a great pass from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to make it 4-0, this time scoring from the right side of the pitch. More drama from London as Wojciech Szczesny did his best, well, Szczesny impression by getting a red card for a foul on a clear goal scoring opportunity. Back up keeper Ospina came on but couldn't stop Burak Yilmaz from converting the PK to make it 4-1. That score would hold, despite Arsenal playing with 10 men as they would hold on for the victory, but will be without their keeper for the next group stage match.
Europa League Roundup
So, I've decided to make an executive decision here. Because there are just soooo many teams in the Europa league, and I really have no idea who half of them are, I've decided to not do the Europa league roundup until after their group stage is over. There are just too many games to recap and there is no way I can watch them all, thus, my recaps would be sort of half-assed which I really don't want to do. Hope you all understand and aren't too broken up over it.