As we have reached the half-way point of the UEFA Champions League group stage, we have decided to introduce a new “Goal Analysis” feature. You’ll get a grip of it from this post.
In this feature we take a look at a couple of goals from a few UEFA Champions League matches in this 3rd gamweek.
GROUP B: Arsenal 0-2 Schalke
- Huntelaar opens the scoring
The German side opened the scoring in the 75th minute at the Emirates through their clinical striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar. It was a delightful finish on the half volley past Vito Mannone in the goal. Take nothing away from the strike but a lot of questions have to be asked of the Arsenal defence. Afellay wasn’t under any pressure outside the box when he headed the ball back towards the box. Vermealen seemed like he was prepared to start a counter before his side even had possession. Mertesacker too moved up too quickly leaving Huntelaar in acres of space, with tons of time to take his chance. Andre Santos, the Arsenal full-back was too slow to react if there was an offside trap. He failed to go in sync with his centre backs, and it was a defensive disaster all-round that led to the goal.
- Afellay extends the lead
Ibrahim Afellay sealed the victory as Schalke became the first non-English side to win a European game at the home of Arsenal in over 9 years. As Arsenal pushed forward to get a equaliser, they inevitable left gaps at the back. Possession was lost cheaply at the centre of the pitch. Farfan and Jones combined to start a swift counter, Schalke were winning the numbers game in that counter. Finally Afellay was found unmarked, and completely free from any form of a defence on Arsenal’s part. He had a simple tap in an the far post.
GROUP C: MALAGA 1-0 AC Milan
- Joaquin with a clever run and finish
The Spaniard Joaquin had already missed a penalty in the first half but he made amends in the second. Manuel Iturra has to be given credit for his cheeky chipped through ball, but Joaquin made a clever dash into the box, displacing the AC Milan defenders from position. El Shaarawy was the man marking Joaquin but he gave up when the ball reached Iturra while Joaquin continued on, before slotting it into the bottom corner.
Malaga have a 100% record in the UCL and look set to counter their financial troubles with progress into the knockout phase.
GROUP D: AJAX 3-1 MANCHESTER CITY
- de Jong’s equaliser
The Group of Death is taking weird twist and turns, and this gameweek the two favourites- City and Real both crashed to defeats. The English champions were outplayed by the Dutch champions Ajax Amsterdam. After Nasri’s opener, Siem De Jong equalised just before half time with a neat finish, but a lot of question marks over City’s defending. When the ball was played through into that hole at the edge of the box, de Jong’s strikers instincts were quickest to react. Lescott, Milner and Kompany just stood and watched, inviting the Ajax striker with time and space, and his precision was never in doubt.
Ajax’s 2nd goal too was a result of poor marking. The age old crticism of zonal marking arises here, the corner was played in and the City defence just stood there frozen (in their zones) as Moisander rose to have an unchallenged header at goal which went past Joe Hart.
GROUP E: SHAKHTAR DONETSK 2-1 CHELSEA
- Quick counter gives Shakhtar the perfect 2nd half start
After already having taken the lead at half time, the Ukranians knew they couldn’t just sit back, they made life difficult for the defending champions but Chelsea were no pushovers.
However, Hazard lost possession too easily at the half way line and Luiz Adriano ran at the Chelsea defence. David Luiz kept a close eye on his countrymen, but captain John Terry seemed lost when pushed back. He was naturally drawn to close down the man in possession, leaving Fernandinho unmarked and in acres of space (a schoolboy error that). Luiz Adriano found his unmarked counterpart who made no mistake putting it past Cech. Shakhtar are a strong side, but Chelsea made it a bit easy for them on that occasion.
Chelsea have been strong domestically but they’ve been less than impressive in the Champions League. It could be the old defending champions syndrome. 2 home game do remain though and they should be able to seal passage into the next round.
GROUP F: BATE 0-3 VALENCIA
- Soldado’s brilliant volley
Valencia had a 1st half lead after a Soldado penalty, and it was that man again who got his name on the scoresheet. The Spaniard has an impressive strikers’ instinct and knows how to lose his marker/go under the radar.
Andres Guardado picked out the striker with a delightful ball, Soldado ensured he maintained a fair bit of space from the BATE defenders and wasted no time in taking his goal, a brilliant first time volley put the Belarus champions 2-0 down.
- Soldado’s well worked hat-trick goal
It was a case of the old 1-2 goal over here. Soldado seemed desperate and hungry for his 3rd goal and he combined well with Argentinian midfielder Tino Costa to get his hattrick.
Soldado played a neat ball through to Tino Costa who made a run behind the BATE defence, the defenders weren’t able to track him. Soldado then continued his run into the box and Costa knew exactly where he was, squaring the ball to him for the finish. Roberto Soldado had his hattrick.
BATE had an impressive start to this season’s Champions League campaign, recording 2 wins (their first ever 2 wins in the competition). But they were well and truly humbled by the Soldado show, and this group still remains very tight.
GROUP G: BARCELONA 2-1 CELTIC
The Scottish champions nearly pulled off the unthinkable result. First they took the lead and then held on almost until the end to record a draw at the Nou Camp. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. In a match that saw Barcelona dominate 82% of the possession, the Catalan giants got the winner in injury time. Adriano playing a ball to the far post, Jordi Alba got in front of his marker, Forrest, to break Scottish hearts. James Forrest however should have dealt with the ball to the far post.
The Scottish champions defended desperately hoping to get something out of the game, while Barca kept knocking on the door through the game. A lapse in concentration in the Celtic defence to allow Jordi Alba through on goal was fatal. But Celtic can be proud of their brave attempts and they still stand a chance in the group.
GROUP H: MAN UNITED 3-2 BRAGA
- Instinctive Chicharito
Chicharito got the United comeback started with a header at the far post. Kagawa played a neat cross through to the Mexican who was left astonishingly unmarked at the far post. This wasn’t a random occurence. Neither the midfielders, nor the defenders saw his late run and he was able to comfortably head home United’s first.
The Mexican striker then went on to score United’s comeback as well. Remarkably, it was a similar situation again. Nani this time played a good cross towards the far post. Chicharito made himself difficult to mark, the defenders couldn’t control him and he found himself with another free header to give the home side the lead for the first time in the game.
We thus come to the end of another fabulous Champions League gameweek that never fails to disappoint. There were some shock results, some absolutely astonishing results avoided and some impressive displays. Malaga and Borussia Dortmund are continuing to impress (its the former’s maiden UCL appearance). Teams like Barcelona and Man United continue to dominate while big clubs such as Man City and AC Milan have been very disappointing.
The gameweeks get interesting now, and we’ll be there to reviews every important moment as the season progresses.
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