Match Day 2 of the Champions League
The Champions League remains the top European club competition and after the excitement of the opening day, match day 2 is set to offer some new delights and disasters for the clubs involved.
With only three draws in the opening round of fixtures, there was a lot of opening day wins and losses but it remains to be seen whether the same will happen in the next round of fixtures.
Champions League holders Inter Milan, managed by Rafa Benitez, only managed to draw their opening Group A game away to FC Twente but the entire group is currently on an even keel. Both matches ended in a 2-2 draw with Werder Bremen and Tottenham Hotspur also ending all square in Germany. Sometimes the opening game of a group stage sees all teams looking to avoid defeat but given the way the scoring went, there was no parking of the bus from any of the teams in this group.
Holders Look to Get Win
The second round of matches sees Inter Milan welcome Werder Bremen to the Giuseppe Meazza whilst Spurs have their first ever home match in the Champions League match. With three London teams involved in the Champions League this season, it is perhaps time for England’s capital clubs to step up to the plate and succeed. Spurs are unlikely to be the team that makes the Wembley final in May but their fans will be delighted if they manage to grab all three points in this game.
Group A may not have featured any teams parking the bus in a desperate hope to grab a point but Group C certainly did. Rangers came down from Scotland to take on Manchester United in a game that was billed as a battle of Britain but quickly became the bore war. European football experienced how far Rangers can go with their negative tactics and stifling displays when they reached the 2008 Uefa Cup final and the opening game at Old Trafford was another example.
When the time comes to open up, just like it did in that final, it is inevitable that Rangers will be picked off but when it is still possible to play to avoid defeat, Walter Smith’s men are likely to be able to prosper.
United Stifled by Defensive Opponents
That said, Manchester United were fairly atrocious in their attacking play and showed little invention or ingenuity in attempting to get behind a stubborn rearguard action. United will have to up their performance this week when they head to Spain to take on Valencia. The Spanish side managed a 4-0 win in Turkey against Bursparsor, putting them in the driving seat after the first round. If Valencia can transfer this home form against United, the Red Devils could find themselves in trouble at an early stage.
The other game of the group sees Rangers at home to the Turkish opponents, who look set to enrage Rangers fans by wearing their green and white hooped change kit.
This of course is the colours of Rangers illustrious rivals Celtic and it doesn’t take much to enrage the Rangers fans but it should be an interesting game at Ibrox. The Rangers fans will expect all three points and this means the home team will have to attack. After three home defeats in last seasons Champions League campaign, it has been quite a while since the Rangers fans witnessed a home win but if the Glasgow side bombs forward, they may leave a space behind them for the counter attack.
Will Rubin Shock Barcelona Again?
Group D sees Barcelona and FC Copenhagen both sitting on three points after opening day wins but Barcelona may find they experience a sense of d¨¦j¨¤ vu in their second round fixtures. Barcelona are away to Rubin Kazan, a side that managed to defeat the Catalan club last season in a game that shocked European football.
Barca still managed to progress from the group but you can guarantee that Pep Guardiola will be fired up to ensure that no slip-ups occur this time around. Barcelona will be without Lionel Messi, who suffered a bad injury in Barcelona’s 2-1 victory over Athletico Madrid.
Will Mourinho take Madrid Further?
You can’t mention Barcelona without considering Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho celebrated his first Champions League match in charge of the Madrid giants by grabbing a convincing win at home to Ajax. They sit second, behind AC Milan on alphabetical order as the Italian giants also managed a 2-0 win at home to Auxerre. Most of Europe will be waiting on the double-header games featuring AC Milan and Real Madrid but both of the top teams in this group will be hoping to avoid any slip-ups in their away matches in this round.
AC Milan and Real Madrid will both consider themselves to be in with a chance of winning the Champions League this season but with the final taking place in Wembley, there are two other teams who will fancy their chances.
Chelsea managed to win 4-1 away from home against MSK Zilina, a win that sees them sitting top of Group F and this week face Marseille. This is of course Didider Drogba’s old team and the side where he first burst onto the European football scene. It would be a major shock if Chelsea did not win at home in this match, a result that would set them up nicely for a double-header against Spartak Moscow.
Arsenal Had Romping Victory
The other London club who will fancy their chances of making the Wembley final in May are Arsenal, who got their Champions League campaign off to a tremendous start. A thoroughly convincing 6-0 win against Champions League debutants Braga from Portugal sent the Emirates crowd into a frenzy and Arsenal to the top of Group H. Arsenal travel to Partizan Belgrade in their next match in the hope of strengthening their position at the top of the group.