UCL 2021-22 Matchday 2 Review

Group A

PSG V/S Manchester City (2-0)

The 2 richest clubs in the world faced each other on Matchday 2 of the UEFA Champions League Group Stage. The expectations were high from the game which was a repeat of last year’s semi final. Last time out, Man City dominated both the games but this time with a highly bolstered squad, PSG got their revenge. The scoring was opened by Idrissa Gueye, but it was the second goal that made the headlines. Lionel Messi scored his first goal for PSG and it was a wonderful strike which no goalkeeper could have saved. The debate keeps swinging about whether Manchester City needs a new striker or not and if Pep keeps playing Sterling in that position then the answer will keep becoming more obvious.

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RB Leipzig V/S Club Brugge (1-2)

Leipzig has lost both of their games in Europe this season but in both these games they put up an impressive fight. Christopher Nkunku is an absolute gem, performing well not only in Europe but also domestically. He will be one of the few positives that the German club will be taking from this clash. Club Brugge is having a mixed season but in Europe particularly they have much to be proud off. They held PSG to a 1-1 draw and now have beaten Leipzig 1-2 at their home soil.

Making it out of this group will be a major challenge for Brugge and Leipzig but in football, nothing is impossible. PSG has passed their first major hurdle of the season and defeating one of their biggest title contenders will boost their odds of winning their maiden major European honour.

Group B

Porto V/S Liverpool (1-5)

Liverpool are playing like Champions and that’s what they’ll strive to be by the end of this season. Whether Europe or England, the Reds will want to be crowned best team in atleast one of them and they are in full flow in their mission to achieve that. They demolished Porto and put 5 past the Portuguese outfit. Mehdi Taremi pulled one back but the game was already over by then but Roberto Firmino scored 2 more goals for Liverpool putting the game to bed.

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AC Milan V/S Atletico Madrid (1-2)

After losing one of their biggest stars in Giangluigi Donnarumma on a  free transfer, AC Milan have bounced back quite well. The Milan outfit started the game well and got a goal to show for it but Kessie’s red card was the game changer that brought Atletico to life. Milan held strong for a long time until in the 84th minute when Antoinne Griezmann scored his first goal for Atletico Madrid since April 2019. Luis Suarez then completed the comeback by converting a controversial 97th minute penalty.

You could call Milan a little unlucky right now, they have put up 2 brilliant performances in Europe and could have one both but the fact is right now they are sitting dead last in their group with 0 points. Their next game against Porto will be crucial if they want to play in the knockout stages of the UCL or even the Europa League. Liverpool is looking too strong for Atletico Madrid to stop but the case was similar in 2020 before the Rojiblancos shocked Anfield with a stellar performance and a brilliant comeback in the extra time.

Group C

Ajax V/S Besiktas (2-0)

Ajax is in blazing hot form this season with 7 wins, 31 goals scored and only 1 conceded in their last 7 games. On the other side of the spectrum are Besiktas who have lost a big chunk of their squad to injuries. After having a great start to the season with clean 4 sheets in their first 4 games, Besiktas has fallen from grace and landed face first on the pavement. Calling the game a one sided affair will be a massive understatement, Ajax played the majority of the game in Besiktas’ defensive 3rd and will be slightly disappointed that the scoreline at the end only showed 2 goals. Sebastian Haller is making UCL history in literally every game and is showing the potential we knew he had scoring 5 goals in his 2 UCL appearances.

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Dortmund V/S Sporting (1-0)

Dortmund’s win didn’t surprise anyone but their performance did. Granted they were without their star man, Erling Brandt Haaland, who was out due to injury, Dortmund didn’t look threatening. Sporting never looked like winning this game and if they want to progress even to the Europa League they will need to step up. Donyell Malen finally opened his account for Dortmund with a elegant finish and hopefully will build on this new found confidence.

A knockout spot in the UCL is a distant dream for Besiktas right now but a European spot might still be on as their rivals for the spot, Sporting CP, are struggling as well. Ajax are flying right now, after the draw Dortmund looked set to top the group but Ajax might not make it that easy for them. The next gameweek is crucial for this group’s future.

Group D

Inter V/S Shaktar Donetsk (0-0)

Inter unsurprisingly had a great defensive performance but going forward they were unable to convert any of the many chances they created. Shakhtar controlled the game for the most part but not unlike their opponents for the night, they were unable to convert any of their chances. Nicolo Barella had a good game and showed some of the magic he is capable of but was unable to make an impact. Edin Dzeko will not look at the highlights of the game keenly missing 2 huge opportunities which could have won Inter the game.

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Real Madrid V/S Sherriff (1-2)

The Sherrifs came to the Bernabeu as massive underdogs against a Real Madrid team who is unbeaten in La Liga and is scoring goals left, right and centre. The Sherriffs are the least experienced team in UCL history and Madrid is the most successful, that’s why this scoreline shocked the whole world. Real dominated the game with 31 shots allowing only 4 but that was all Sherriff needed to pull one of the biggest shocks in recent history.

In a dream scenario for the team, Sherriff is topping the group and could very well be in line to make it to the knockouts. It is very early days but they just might be the big surprise story of the season. Inter is doing well domestically but like always they are again struggling on the European stage.

Group E

Bayern Munich V/S Dynamo Kyiv (5-0)

Bayern Munich is making it a habit of running riot on a team and humiliating them with embarrassing scorelines. They have scored 3 or more goals in their last 9 games which is an impressive feat in itself without mentioning that some of those teams were FC Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig. The game against Dynamo was another classic Bayern performance with dominating attacking, extensive control of the game and tight defending. Surprising no one, Robert Lewandoski scored another brace, Gnabry and Sane both showed class with Muller putting in another wonderful performance. Musiala also deserves a special mention. He is one the Bayern fans will be very happy to see for years to come.

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Benfica V/S FC Barcelona (3-0)

The other 5 time winner of the competition in this group with red in their crest is not doing as well right now. It is fair to say that FC Barcelona is no longer in trouble, it is in an actual meltdown. Jokes are regularly made when a big team when it is not doing well, but those jokes might just become Barca’s horrid reality, with the chances of a Europa League spot finish or even worse, a 4th place finish with no knockout football at all looking not too unlikely. The Catalan Giants are in a downward spiral with no end in sight and are sitting at the bottom of Group E. Their performance against Benfica was stale, the style of play was just depressing and the team selection and management was a disaster. But credit has to be given to Benfica who took control of the game from the first minute, didn’t let Barca get any control of the game whatsoever and played off of the fans so much. Benfica is looking really strong and has been unbeaten the entire season. 

Challenging Bayern for the top spot is not something any team will even e hoping to do in this group but the fight for the second and third spot with every team having a genuine chance of finishing anywhere. Bayern might have hammered Kyiv but they are not by any chance pushovers. Their last loss before Bayern was in March against Villarreal who then beat Manchester United to win the title, and they have been unbeaten in their league for over 10 whole months.

Group F

Manchester United V/S Villarreal (2-1)

Speaking of the Europa League final, last night we saw a rematch between those teams only this time it were the Red Devils who sunk the Yellow Submarine. Paco Alcacer gave the Europa League Champions the lead in the 53rd minute with a great move from the entire Villarreal team with fast build up and pin point through balls and passes. However, Alex Telles got the first goal for the home team and then in the 95th minute, to no one’s surprise, Cristiano Ronaldo showed why he is still one of the greatest to ever play football.

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Atalanta V/S Young Boys (1-0)

Atalanta always looked like the ones to win the game but Gasperini would still be telling his men that there could be more goals in the game. The clinicality was just not there for the Italians. If they are to go far into the tournament they will most definitely need to improve on that. Young boys looked out of their depth in front of Atalanta and this performance was a let down after they shocked Manchester United in Matchday 1.

This is perhaps the most difficult group to call right now with only 3 points separating the first and last place teams. United looks like one of the World’s best team one game and can crumble like an old biscuit. Atalanta has given mixed performances as well while Villarreal are though unbeaten in their league, are coming 11th.

Group G

Salzburg v/s Lille (2-1)

Salzburg bounced back with a victory against Lille as they were held to a frustrating draw by Sevilla in Matchday 1. The 19-year-old German striker Karim Adeyami stepped up to take both the penalties and slotted them exquisitely. Although both the goals were from the penalty spot, Salzburg deserved the win as they were the more dominant team. This win puts them in First with a 2 point buffer.

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Wolfsburg v/s Sevilla (1-1)

Both teams would’ve wanted a win in Matchday 2 after playing out frustrating draws in Matchday 1. Sevilla dominated possession but they were not potent enough to threaten Wolfsburg. Sevilla were saved by a late penalty decision by VAR. As for the German team, they would be ecstatic to get a point out of the game as Guilavogui was handed a red card and they were on strings towards the end of the game. Both teams went out for the win but were left frustrated.

It was only the second game out of 6 in the Group stages so it is still early to put a finger on one team to win this group. Every team in this group is capable of qualifying for the latter stages and it could prove to be an exhilarating race for the Round of 16.

Group H

Juventus V/S Chelsea (1-0)

As Juventus faced Chelsea at home, it turned out to be an easier tie for them as Juventus were rock solid defensively. The European champions were not at their best and made it easier for Bianconeri to threaten them at the counters. Allegri’s side made it clear from the start that they were going to sit deep as they clearly had no possession, but players like Chiesa and Bernardeschi made them energetic on those counters. The Blues failed to create any clear-cut opportunity in the first half. The second half turned out to be rather shocking for Chelsea as Juventus surprised them by scoring an astonishing goal within the opening seconds after the break. Juventus has made a statement after winning against the European Champions, and on the other hand, Chelsea needs to push to create more openings for Lukaku and players like Havertz to score more goals.

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Zenit V/S Malmo (4-0)

Zenit took the game to Malmo in emphatic fashion and in the 9th minute delivered the first blow by the boots of Claudinho. Malmo tried to get back into the game and their skipper Andreas Christensen came very close to netting one in and closing the gap to the Russians but he blazed it over the bar. After the half time Malmo’s situation went bad to worse. Within 8 minutes they conceded a second goal and saw Anel Ahmedhodžić get sent off. Zenit hit 2 more in the latter stages to put the final nails in Malmo’s coffin.

Though Zenit got the 3 points, the top 2 are most probably going to be Juventus and Chelsea only. However, the Europa league spot is still to fight for but with 0 points in the bag it will be difficult for Malmo to make it.

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