What a great week to be a soccer fan. The world’s most prestigious club competition kicked off this week to the delight of millions around the world. For those unfamiliar with what The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League is, it is simply a tournament for the best club teams in Europe. To qualify for this tournament you must finish high or win your respective league.
With the world’s best clubs all located in Europe, The Champions League is the best and most exciting tournament in the world. The tournament began on Tuesday and Wednesday with various European powerhouses kicking off their quest for European glory. I would like to highlight a few key games from Tuesday and Wednesday that I thought were interesting and were good indicators of things to come as this tournament progresses.
I will start with Tuesday’s matches which featured some interesting results. The first result was the mouth watering clash between Real Madrid (Spain) and Manchester City (England). This game promised to be a thriller and it did not disappoint. Real Madrid was in poor form leading up to this game having lost two games already in La Liga equaling their total from all last season, as well as their start player Cristiano Ronaldo having some emotional issues. Manchester City was in good form and was expecting to get a good result even though they were not playing at home.
The first half was a disappointment and finished 0-0 at the half. The second half was anything but disappointing. City took the lead twice before surrendering the lead twice. The game seemed destined for a 2-2 draw until possibly the world’s greatest player showed exactly why he was in that category. Cristiano Ronaldo scored the late winner and seemed to set aside his emotional troubles to fire his side to a 3-2 victory over a very disappointed Manchester City. Real Madrid showed real character in my opinion to come back twice and go on to win it. They will surely be one of the favorites to lift the trophy.
The other match I would like to highlight where a team’s character was tested was the game between Arsenal (England) and Montpellier (France). Arsenal were big favorites even though they were playing away from home as they were on a good run of form and their opponents were struggling. It was anything but easy for Arsenal as Montpellier took the lead early through a penalty. Arsenal fought back and scored two goals within two minutes to make the score 2-1 going into halftime with new signing Podolski continuing his good form.
The second half was very on sided with Montpellier threatening to score several times. Arsenal had to defend for their lives and eventually held on for the 2-1 win. What was interesting to me was the way Arsenal won “¦ ugly. They are not a team known to do that and they really showed good character to win the way they did. Maybe Arsenal can have a go at the trophy this year “¦ just maybe.
Wednesday there were two games I’d like to discuss, and that concerns probably the best team the world has ever seen in Barcelona (Spain) as they took on Spartak Moscow (Russia). On paper this should have been an easy win for Barcelona, but this is The Champions League, nothing is easy. Barcelona took the early lead, but surrendered it because of a Dani Alves own goal making it 1-1 at halftime.
Spartak Moscow shocked Barcelona in the second half by taking the lead 2-1 with 30 minutes left to play. So who can save Barcelona this embarrassment? The one and only Lionel Messi. Messi scored two goals within 10 minutes to give Barcelona the 3-2 victory. Messi singlehandedly saved his team, showing why he is the best player in the world and possibly ever. So what does this show? It shows that Barcelona is vulnerable in this competition. If Messi didn’t do what he did then Barcelona would have lost to a very average team. Other teams will look at this and maybe become more encouraged to play Barcelona. I think this might have just been a one bad game for Barcelona who I think will go on to win the whole competition.
And the last game I will discuss is the game between defending champions Chelsea (England) and defending Italian champions Juventus (Italy). The game played out to a 2-2 draw in London with Juventus probably being the happier of the two teams as they had to come back twice against Chelsea whose young starlet Oscar scored two goals on his first ever start including a wonder goal. So do the defending champions look like they can repeat the amazing run they had last year? In my opinion, no, but they will get far in the competition, probably the semi finals. Juventus will be content with the result away from home and will look to push on and possibly be outside contenders to lift the trophy.
There were many more games I couldn’t get to in a week full of great games. This was only the first round of the long tournament and I, for one, cannot wait for the rest to unfold.