The Group Stage of the Champions League was back in town for its 5th round of fixtures. Plenty of matches had a great bearing on the final 16 as teams fought it out for all three points in front of huge crowds cheering for their home team. Manchester City was the only English club who failed to get a result from this week as other European giants were more or less comfortable with their results.
Here are 5 things we learnt from this week’s Champions League fixtures:
1. Barcelona and Messi on a high:
The Catalan giants were on a high with a 4-0 victory at the Bernabeau that coincided with the return of the Argentine start Lionel Messi. Messi came back into the team after an injury and the club looked un-playable against Roma when the two teams met at the Camp Nou on Tuesday. Lionel Messi and Luiz Suarez picked up braces as they thumped Roma to a 6-1 victory. Luis Enrique was under scrutiny with some results earlier in the season but the squad is now playing together and it hard to see any other club outplaying the Bulgarana in this form. Surely the Barcelona that won the treble last year is back.
2. Arsenal good enough despite injuries:
Arsene Wenger’s side is one of the most injury hit squads this season. As many as 6 starting XI players were missing for Arsenal’s game against Dinamo Zagreb at the Emirates. Arsenal were still stunning on the day as they out-played their opponents in all areas in their 3-0 victory at home. Sanchez and Ozil, their best players this season were on target and Arsenal kept their chances of qualification alive with this victory. The side is lacking in depth in some positions but till they can grind results out and play like they did against Zagreb, Wenger can take his team a bit further then the final 16.
3. Chelsea turning the tables? :
After his worst start to a season, Jose Mourinho was under immense pressure to find results and with games coming thick and fast, it was never going to be easy for the Portuguese manager. Mourinho’s squad looked dead and devoid of any ideas in the last few games before the International break but came back with a victory against Norwich in the weekend and followed it with a comfortable 4-0 victory on their travel to Maccabi Tel Aviv. Cahill, Willian, Zouma and Oscar were on target for the Blues on the night and this performance will surely give them enough confidence to get their season back on track.
4. Manchester United’s shortcomings exposed:
Manchester United have taken just 1 point from two legs against PSV Eindhoven in this season’s Champions League group stage. With the pedigree in the squad, Louis van Gaal would have expected a better performance from his team who failed to take any of the chance that fell to them at the Old Trafford on Wednesday. The club lacks any kind of spark up front and will have to shake things up if they want to start scoring freely. The manager has tried many things but it will be up to the players to create more chances and take them as they come.
5. Manchester City have a week to forget:
Manuel Pellegrini’s men needed a result from this game to make their qualification into the next round a sure thing. But they failed to score and lost the game against Juventus in Turin on Wednesday. The Citizens were coming into the game on the back of a humiliating 4-1 defeat in the hands of Liverpool but bounced back well and played some impressive football. City dominated the game at times but failed to create enough chances and paid the price as they gave all the three points away to the Old Lady. Pellegrini will surely rue these losses but it will be best for the squad to take these games in the stride and try to forget them as quickly as possible if they want their season to be successful.
There were other games that produced some brilliant performances. Pep Guardiola’s men thrashed Olympiakos 4-0 at home and PSG put 5 past Malmo away from home. The Champions League always produces some interesting games so follow all the happening from the Europe’s elite competition on our website exclusively.