Champions League Resumes, Giants Cruise

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After dominating a rather weak group, Barcelona came into the Round of 16 confident. Against Bayer Leverkusen, it was more of the same from the Blaugranes. Controlling the ball well, they had a lion’s share of the possession, 75%, and used patience and opportune attacks to beat their German opponents. This was not hard as Bayer gave the ball away very easily, which led to one of Alexis Sánchez’s goals. Leverkusen, like many other teams, could not contain Lionel Messi as he continued to float balls over the top, one of which was latched onto and dispatched sweetly by Sánchez. The Germans only easy chance was a high cross which was headed home by Michel Kadlec, and this game has all but confirmed that this matchup may be a walk in the park for Barça.

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Flying under the radar as they entered the tournament, Apoel Nicosia won their group and booked their next round matchup against French giants Lyon. Though Apoel is the only Cypriot side to ever reach the Round of 16, they did not show the endeavor or inspiration that was so prevalent in getting them this far. Their only shot came in the 88th minute which produced a fine save from French international Hugo Lloris. Unlike Apoel, Lyon had many opportunities on goal, but only five found the target, one being the fine finish from Alexandre Lacazette that gave them the victory.

As the temperatures continued to drop at the Stadion Petrovskiy in St Petersburg, there was still a game that needed to be played between Zenit and SL Benfica. The frigid temperatures hovered between 5 and 10 degrees the whole game, but watching the cold spectacle was well worth it. Maxi Pereira of Benfica put his side up after an error by Zenit goalkeeper Yuri Zhevnov, but Zenit’s Roman Shirokov quickly drew his side level after a well taken volley. After the break, the fireworks began as Sergei Semak scored after brilliant team play. Then, shortly after, Benfica looked to have snatched a draw when another Zhevnov howler allowed Oscar Cardozo finish from close range, but just two minutes later Benfica conceded a killer as Shirokov completed his brace and assured a win for the Russians.

Yet again, defense is the reason for the bemoaning of the Gunner faithful. Arsenal never looked settled at the San Siro and were humiliatingly torn apart 4-0 by the Rossoneri. Milan’s Kevin Prince-Boateng struck a beauty to put AC up in the 15th minute, and, from then on, it was pure domination. In the 38th, Zlatan Ibrahimović crossed for Robinho to tap in from 6 yards out. Things got worse quickly for Arsenal before halftime as their impressive defender Laurent Koscielny limped off the pitch and was replaced by Johan Djourou. After halftime, Robinho took advantage of Thomas Vermaelen’s slip outside of the box as he slammed home the clincher from 18 yards out. Any hopes of comeback were ended in the 78th minute, when Koscielny’s replacement Djourou clumsily knocked over Ibrahimović to concede a penalty, which the big Swede slotted into the bottom right corner, leaving Arsenal with a lot of work to do in the 2nd leg at the Emirates Stadium on March 6th.

Jonathan Zinser

3 thoughts on “Champions League Resumes, Giants Cruise

    tophatal said:
    February 16, 2012 at 10:36 am

    When the mandate changes concerning the teams’ participation in UEFA’s club competitions what type of ramifications do you feel this will have on such teams as Man Utd and Real Madrid who carrying mountains of debt ?

    UEFA President Michel Platini has firmly stated that if teams cannot place themselves in a healthy financial state then they will be barred from all forms of UEFA’s club competitions and it is something that’s also being backed by the EU .

    tophatal …………..

      kcyoungguns responded:
      February 16, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      A healthy financial state is very vague in the way Platini said it. Soccer teams debt have been common for quite a while and they will be dealt with like they always have been. That is, if their debt is managed well and the owners keep putting money into the club. I see no problem for Real Madrid or Man United because both owners are managing their debt in a sustainable way.

    tophatal said:
    February 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Far from it as both are simply turning to their bankers to simply renegotiate their debt burden . And this type of economy those bankers can ill afford to do that with several of them having been bailed out by their respective governments . Platini made it abundantly clear what is expected of the teams but obviously clubs such as Real Madrid and Manchester Utd will fight tooth and nail to try and avert this edict by UEFA and its executive committee . It is something that should have been done several years ago .

    How has United been able to manage its debt in a sustainable way ? Four times in the past three years they’ve gone cap in hand to their banks and now have taken to a stock issue as a way bringing much needed cash . That’s not a healthy way of managing their debt burden that has increased rather than decrease since the team’s purchase by the Glazer family . If you want to see how not to run a franchise in terms of a failed attempt then look at the idiotic maneuvers of former Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and Ken Gillette who between them wouldn’t know the difference between a baking sheet , a balance sheet and sheet of Charmin roll that one would use to wipe their a## with ! These two blithering idiots while owners of the following sports’ franchises also led not only Liverpool into bankruptcy but also the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars . US owners being involved in Premiership soccer has been a complete joke , bordering on sheer and ineptitude !

    tophatal ……………..

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