UEFA Champions League promotion - Week 5 - Group stage review


27 September 2020

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The latest matches in the UEFA Champions League were played on Wednesday night. It's a little hard to know where to start, but let's go over to Anfield, shall we?

Yes, Liverpool won the match and beat the French side Marseille 1 - 0. The victory secured Liverpool's progress to the last 16 of the Champions League when the knockout stages begin in February next year, but (and this is a big but), this was not a convincing victory or exhibition. Especially in the second half.

You would have expected that Liverpool, the 5-time winners, had come out and totally dominated the second half, stepping up against Kop and killing the game as they have done so often in the past. On the contrary, it was Marseille who at times looked excellent with their quick delivery that made life very difficult for Liverpool. As the second half progressed, it was the home side who were put under increasing pressure and you could feel that there was some sign of relief rippling around Anfield as the final whistle blew.

It is fair to say that Liverpool's victory had more to do with Marseille's lack of Achilles' instinct in front of goal and at the other end, some completely sad defenses. The Liverpool goal, scored by their captain Steven Gerrard, who came back from injury, is the perfect example of Marseille's terrible defense. It was so bad I almost did not know where to start. In fact, I would not bother to describe it. If you've seen it, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you have not looked for the Marseille defender who obviously can not decide whether it is worth following Gerrard in the field or not. Unfortunately, he decides that he can not be bothered. Although I suspect his manager does not agree with the decision. That left Gerrard completely with one with a free header in front of goal.

In the group's second game, it was a very empty and quiet Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid (due to UEFA penalty) that saw Atletico Madrid beat PSV Eindhoven 2 - 1. The victory booked Atletico's place in the last 16. They also remain on top of the group ahead of Liverpool because they have scored an extra goal. The final round of play in this group determines who finishes one and two, and therefore the knock-out stages should get the better draw.

On paper, it looks like Liverpool have the easier match as they are away to Dutch PSV while Atletico travel to Marseille. Marseille are always a far better team at home and after last night's performance it would not be a surprise if Marseille won. In the same way, also on yesterday's screen, it would not be too much of a surprise that PSV also beat Liverpool! Althoug, the English team certainly could not play so badly again.

In Group A, Chelsea and Bordeaux fought back hard, ending in a 1-1 draw. It also saw the dismissal of Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard near the end for two yellow cards. A draw still leaves the qualifiers available, but the Blues know that a win over poor Cluj at Stamford Bridge in the next round in two weeks will secure their qualification. But if Bordeaux beat Roma, a draw is sufficient for their qualification.

Over in Group C, Barcelona twice defeated winners Sporting Lisbon easily by 5 - 2. The result, however, was almost insignificant, as both teams had already qualified for the knockout stages of the competition. The match was a personal milestone for French striker Thierry Henry, who became the first French player to play 100 times in the Champions League. It was a good night all the way for Henry, who also opened the scoring for Barcelona.

I saved the best group in the end, group B! The final round of games in this group was to produce some purely sporting drama. But the German side Werder Bremen will probably not care because Bremen is only out and has no chance of advancing with just a draw against rank-outsiders Anorthosis Famagusta. Yes, they could end up on par with Panathinaikos, but due to their head to head results, the German team is out for more information click here


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