Morbo Minute–European Round Up

I didn’t know how to feel about this week’s games.  FCB was playing Viktoria Plzen, who some sites were claiming are the Czech Barcelona (looked more like the Czech Tottenham Hotspur between the unis and the performance), and Manchester United was playing a Romanian team that I couldn’t pronounce.  The real action seemed to be in the Group of Death (Group A), with each team needing maximum points to give them the best chance of progressing.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2011

Manchester City           2-1       Villarreal          

Going into this match, both teams were at the Last Chance Saloon.  City needed all three points to get their campaign back on track after a home draw with Napoli and a spanking away to Bayern Munich, while the Yellow Submarine couldn’t hope to qualify for even the Europa League with a third consecutive loss in this competition.

Villarreal got off to a dream start when a Silva turnover ended up at the feet of Rossi, who called Hart into action before Cani knocked in the rebound after only three minutes.  The conditions and aggressiveness of both sides created a scintillating opening 20 minutes with City really taking the game to the Spanish side, creating lots of half chances.  It took a while for the Yellow Submarine into the game, with the pace hard to match, possession at a premium, and Rossi on his own.  De Guzman was not quite sharp enough. Despite helping to set up the opening goal, he was just a half step too slow.  Just when it looked like Villarreal were settling into the game to grind out an away victory, an own goal by Marchena got City off the hook before half time.

Villarreal started off the second half a little more threatening with Rossi testing Hart again and Valero doing a decent job of pulling the strings.  The team seemed to have a little more rhythm and was establishing some width.  Aguero came on at the hour mark as Mancini reshaped his side, with Barry holding, YaYa starting play and Silva and Nasri dictating proceedings (although they both faded).  Dzeko was struggling and he should have done both with a couple of his chances.  With 10’ to go, Mubarak came on for Perez, and Milner came in for Nasri.  The edge had gone out of game, and it was heading for a draw with three minutes of added time.  Villarreal were dead on their feet and City had just a little bit left, but Aguero got the Citizens out of jail as Milner set up Zabalyeta who squared it across for the Argentinean to score.  In the end, it was three points for the blue side of Manchester, with Villarreal being exposed at the end of the match and Mancini getting his subs absolutely right.

Richard Thorburn from http://elcentrocampista.com/ had this recap while for a more biased view read Allen’s comments from http://www.villarrealusa.com/.

Napoli                          1-1       Bayern Munich

CSKA Moscow           3-0       Trabzonspor

Lille                              0-1       Internazionale

FC Basel                      0-2       Benfica

Otelul Galati                 0-2      Manchester United

Dinamo Zagreb          0-2      Ajax Amsterdam

Real Madrid                 4-0       Lyon

Los Merengues conquered their French opponents again, with Benzema putting his former team to the sword.  @MadridistaMac made some interesting comments about the rotation and tactics for Real Madrid, who are all but in the knockout stage.  By the way, CR7 did not score in a second consecutive match for Real Madrid.  Everyone might want to have their Apocalypse Kit in order.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2011

Barcelona                     2-0       Viktoria Plzen   

The Blaugrana cruised past the Czech Champs, including a sick combination goal between Iniesta and Messi.  With FCB and AC Milan on seven points after three games, it looks like the match on 11/23 will decide the group.

AC Milan                     2-0       BATE Borisov

Bayer Leverkusen         2-1      Valencia                      

Los Che are in real danger of not progressing, with a defeat at the BayArena.  Based on reports they did not do enough with their first half advantage and were punished by the Germans.  However @OutsideMid took a different view on Leverkusen’s performance.  Ouch!!

Chelsea                        5-0       Racing Genk

Marseille                      0-1       Arsenal

I watched a replay of this match to get a feel for both teams, not seeing Arsenal for a while and had not seen Marseille this season.  The match was not great, with the  Gunners looking a shadow of themselves without Nasri and Fabregas.  Valbeuna looked great for L’OM but did not see much of the ball in second half.  The Professor seemed to have gotten his subs right as Ramsey smashed in the winner in injury time.  Overall this was 90 minutes that I’m not getting back.  Thank goodness I watched with some friends and had some beers.

Olympiakos                  3-1       Borussia Dortmund

FC Porto                      1-1       Apoel Nicosia

Shakhtar Donetsk        2-2       Zenit StPetersburg

——————
Europa League

Athletic Bilbao          2-2       SV Salzburg

Los Leones made two changes after having to play on Monday night.  They were stunned by Salzburg in the first half and were down 2-0 at halftime, but they picked themselves up, and two Llorente PK’s earned them the point.  They stay on top of the group and travel to Salzburg in a couple of weeks.  If they avoid a loss and get all three points against Slovan Bratislava, they should be in good shape against PSG on the last match day.

Udinese                        2-0       Atlético Madrid

Los Colchoneros suffered their first defeat of the competition as two late goals won it for the Italian side.  Based on reports, Atletico had decent periods of the match but their finishing was poor.  The return leg will be at the Calderon in a couple of weeks.  A win and the Spaniards can plan for European football early in 2012.  A loss means they will start all over again.

Spanishfootball.info has a little better summary of each match.

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