Champions League Round Up For The Spanish Clubs6 min read
Barca have ter Stegen to thank for a point
FC Barcelona came away from Signal Iduna Park with a point and a clean sheet, but that’s about as good as it got for Ernesto Valverde’s side at Borussia Dortmund.
Jordi Alba’s first-half injury didn’t help matters in a game where, for large parts, the visitors were overrun.
Ansu Fati, making his debut as the youngest ever in the competition, was given a quick reality check after his weekend heroics, whilst Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann toiled up front.
Defensively the Catalans were poor, and their lack of pace was shown up time and again.
Of the outfield players, only Arthur Melo emerged with any real credit, consistently on the front foot and getting his team going where possible.
Aside from the Brazilian, keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was the hero of the hour with a magnificent penalty save – which VAR could’ve easily overruled but didn’t – and a series of superb stops.
Very much a point gained for Barca, rather than two lost.
Valencia give Chelsea the blues in west London
After enduring a torrid 90 minutes against Barcelona at the weekend, Valencia needed a positive result against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea to kick-start their Champions League campaign.
They were hampered by an early injury to Mason Mount from a Coquelin challenge which could easily have earned the defender a red card.
The Blues are beginning to find their feet under their former midfielder, and it showed again on Tuesday night as they kept possession well and routinely peppered Jasper Cillessen’s goal.
Willian, in particular, had two decent chances to open the scoring late in the first half. However, the hosts were unable to take their chances, despite having six shots on goal compared to Los Che’s two.
The visitors always looked dangerous on the break, and with 16 minutes left, some sharp movement from Jose Gaya earned his side a free-kick in a dangerous position.
A floated ball from Dani Parejo found Rodrigo Moreno waltzing right across the Chelsea back line unmarked, and though his shot wasn’t the best, it deceived Kepa enough to nestle in the net and hand the Spaniards the win.
Zidane’s halo has slipped
Much was made of Zinedine Zidane being back in the competition where he cemented his legend with Real Madrid, but his team never looked like hitting the heights in Paris.
Missing Sergio Ramos and Marcelo for the match against Paris Saint-Germain can’t really be used as an excuse, given that the French side were without their first choice front line of Cavani, Neymar and Mbappe.
Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale couldn’t muster a shot on target between them, nor could any of their team-mates, giving their former keeper, Keylor Navas, the quietest of nights.
The same can’t be said for Thibaut Courtois, who hasn’t kept a clean sheet in months.
Real old boy, Angel Di Maria, set the hosts on their way and doubled their lead before Thomas Meunier’s late third.
Zidane couldn’t inspire his team at any point and questions will begin to be asked as to whether he is the right man for the job.
Atletico salvage a point
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side surely had the toughest of tests to begin their 2019/20 UCL campaign, being paired with another of the competition’s favourites in Juventus.
With just over an hour gone in this encounter, the Italian giants were 2-0 up at the Wanda Metropolitano and cruising.
But those are the times when Cholo earns his wage.
A whirling dervish on the touchline, he kicks every ball, inspiring his XI with vehemence.
Stefan Savic gave the Rojiblancos hope with 20 minutes to go, raising the roof and giving his colleagues a real filip just when they needed it.
The match remained a fascinating encounter until the very end, with sub Hector Herrera getting on the end of a last-minute set piece to send the place delirious.
Cristiano Ronaldo, so pivotal in this fixture last season, could still have won it in injury time, but the former Real man’s shot went just wide of the upright.