Thursday, December 08, 2005

Champions League Matchday 6: December 6-7

Benfica 2 - 1 Manchester United
Ouch. That was painful to watch. When the game started off with a goal from Paul Scholes within the first five minutes, I thought that was sign that things were going to go well for United. Apparently not. Instead, they did everything they could to lose that game.

Sure, Benfica played well, but their win was down to mistakes from United more than anything else -- the first goal being the most obvious example. I'm going to give Gary Neville the benefit of the doubt and hope that was stuck to the spot because he thought Geovanni was offside, rather than being caught ball-watching. Either way, not the sort of inspiring play you expect from your captain. And the rest of the team was just as bad. They were giving the ball away all over the pitch -- terrible passing, wingers running into a crowd of defenders rather than finding space to make the cross, and no finishing whatsoever.

United may not be as dominant a team as they were a few years ago, but they do still have the skill in their lineup to win games like this. What it comes down to is that they didn't have their heads on right for this game. Look at Cristiano Ronaldo: he gets tackled a few times, he wants to play especially well in this game because it's a home crowd for him, so he tries to do more and more but just gets worse and worse. I'm surprised Sir Alex didn't haul him off earlier. I'm not saying he was the worst offender -- at least he was trying to create some chances -- but certainly the most obvious.

So United go crashing out at the group stage for the first time in, what, ten years? Without even the dubious consolation of the UEFA Cup. If I wanted to be optimistic, I'd say this means they can focus their resources on the Premiership, but come on. How realistic are their -- or anyone's -- chances of catching Chelsea, really?

In happier news, Liverpool held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge, leaving them top of the group and Jose Mourinho a total wanker as usual.

And Arsenal, who had already booked their spot in the final 16, also drew 0-0 with Ajax -- including a flubbed penalty by Thierry Henry, just for fun.

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