Thursday, October 04, 2007

Champions League Matchday 2: October 2-3

Manchester United 1-0 Roma
Another grind-it-out one-nil win. Ho hum. Actually, I thought that United played reasonably well -- better than they have in recent games, at least -- with a couple of caveats: First, although it was a pleasant surprise seeing Louis Saha starting up front, he didn't get much service from the rest of the team. Second, Roma had several good chances in front of the net, and if their finishing had been any less atrocious, they could easily have stolen a win. Still, United are on top of their group for the moment, with home and away matches against bottom-feeders Dynamo Kiev up next. And it's good too see Wayne Rooney with his scoring boots on again, although his return from injury is somewhat overshadowed by the news that Michael Carrick has a fractured elbow and will be out for six week. With Owen Hargreaves crocked as well, that leaves -- gulp! -- John O'Shea to partner Paul Scholes in midfield. Oh dear.

Liverpool 0-1 Marseille
Oh, Liverpool. What is wrong with you? I'm starting to think that they used up all their goals against Derby. I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon and blame Rafa's rotation policy for this result, though; considering the players they had injured or suspended, this wasn't a bad lineup. In hindsight, I would've replaced Leto and Sissoko with Riise and Mascherano, but the players Rafa chose really ought to have been good enough to beat a team that's been stinking up the French league and just sacked their manager. Sissoko is probably going to get most of the criticism -- and rightly so, considering the number of times he got caught in possession -- but the rest of the team was awful too. There was just no sense of urgency from Liverpool. They gave Marseille way too much time and space on the ball, and it wasn't until injury time that they really started to attack the other team's goal. Imagine how much better they could have done if they'd played for 90 minutes the way they did for the last five. And I do wonder if that apathetic performance should partly be blamed on rotation: when you have a starting XI that's not used to playing together, or players that simply haven't gotten much playing time recently, it's hardly surprising when their game is so disjointed.

Valencia 1-2 Chelsea
Damn it, what happened to the Chelsea meltdown? I was so hoping for another spectacular crash and burn, and instead they actually went out and played well, those bastards. But maybe this is just a false dawn in the ongoing soap opera at Stamford Bridge (in the next episode: Andriy Shevchenko is revealed to be Roman Abramovich's long-lost non-identical twin brother! Frank Lampard and Carlo Cudicini are having an affair! And Didier Drogba is possessed by the devil!). Also looking on the bright side, I did enjoy seeing David Villa blow past John Terry like he was standing still for the opening goal. Maybe the weight of that face mask was slowing Terry down?

Let's all laugh at Dida, shall we?

Group A
Liverpool 0-1 Marseille
Beşiktaş 0-1 Porto

Group B
Valencia 1-2 Chelsea
Rosenborg 0-2 Schalke

Group C
Lazio 2-2 Real Madrid
Werder Bremen 1-3 Olympiacos

Group D
Celtic 2-1 AC Milan
Benfica 0-1 Shakhtar Donetsk

Group E
Lyon 0-3 Rangers
Stuttgart 0-2 Barcelona

Group F
Manchester United 1-0 Roma
Dynamo Kiev 1-2 Sporting Lisbon

Group G
CSKA Moscow 2-2 Fenerbahçe
Inter Milan 2-0 PSV Eindhoven

Group H
Steaua Bucharest 0-1 Arsenal
Sevilla 4-2 Slavia Prague

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