Categories
Sports

Champions League talking points: Barcelona’s dilemma after lucky escape; Premier League’s dominance

Matchday 5 of the Champions League group stage saw another clutch of Europe’s biggest club secure their place in the knockout phase with Chelsea , Inter Milan , Manchester City , Manchester United , Paris Saint-Germain , Real Madrid and Sporting CP all putting the names in the hat for the round-of-16 draw.

We asked Mark Ogden, Julien Laurens and Sam Marsden to answer some of the big questions arising from this week’s matches. What caught your attention on Matchday 5?

Ogden: Haris Seferovic ‘s miss against Barcelona , in the 93rd minute of Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at Camp Nou, not only denied Benfica a 1-0 win which would have left Barca needing a miracle to qualify from Group E but it also robbed us of a potentially seminal moment in Champions League history.

Barca are on the ropes right now and Seferovic could have earned a place in football folklore by scoring a goal which would surely have ended their 20-year streak of reaching the knockout phase. Images of him celebrating the winner could have matched those iconic moments of Jose Mourinho sprinting down the Old Trafford touchline as Porto manager or Steven Gerrard’s crucial winner for Liverpool against Olympiakos in 2004-05.

But the Switzerland forward ended up producing one of the misses of the season by skewing his shot wide from close range. Who knows how significant the miss may prove to be?

Laurens: Thiago Alcantara ‘s exceptional goal for Liverpool in the 2-0 win against Porto . Not many players, let alone a defensive midfielder, can hit a half-volley like he did: so pure, so precise, so beautiful. Thiago is an incredible baller with a technical ability, a football IQ and vision way above many other players in his position. He can dictate the pace of a game and control a game like no other.

A lot of what Liverpool will or will not achieve this season will be down to his fitness and his performances. When he is in the kind of form that we saw against Porto or against Arsenal last weekend, he gives another dimension to this Liverpool side. And his goal on Wednesday was certainly a reminder of that.

Marsden: Borussia Dortmund ‘s exit. It’s been a tough few weeks on the sidelines for the injured Erling Haaland . First he saw Norway’s World Cup dream go up in smoke as they dropped points against Turkey , Latvia and Netherlands . Now he’s seen Dortmund exit the Champions League after a 3-1 defeat to Sporting .

The German side had six points from nine when Haaland got injured and looked a good bet to make the round of 16, but back-to-back defeats since then mean the Europa League awaits them in 2022. With Ajax and Besiktas completing the group, you’d have expected them to make it through.

– How teams can reach round of 16 | When is the draw?
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– Don’t have ESPN? […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *