Some new challengers are emerging this year to take over the old guard as Manchester City, Roma and Tottenham make statement Champions League wins
Not even in the best possible dreams of a Roma fan could everything have gone this way. After four games, the Giallorossi top one of the most balanced Champions League groups of all, and can start really thinking about the next round. A fantastic Stephan El Shaarawy paved the way to Roma’s demolition of a fragile Chelsea, as the Giallorossi’s attack worked as perfectly as the defence. On Halloween night, the Blues were ghosts, not present on the pitch, whilst the Giallorossi monsters were ready to feast on the prey.
The greatest night for Spurs at Wembley as Mauricio Pochettino’s men put three past Real Madrid, defeated the European champions and qualified for the round of 16 of the Champions League. A perfect game for Spurs, who picked up from where they left off at the Santiago Bernabeu and turned a draw into a solid victory, that shows how far the team has come in 12 months – from being relegated to the Europa League to dominating Real Madrid and continuing the journey in Europe’s top competition.
The last time City played at the San Paolo the result was a burning defeat; this time it’s the sign that the team can really win anywhere. To put four past Napoli whilst risking relatively little at the back is a further step up from the last game at the Etihad, and the qualification to the round of 16 is the icing on the cake. Pep Guardiola’s men will be a very tough opponent for anybody from now on.
You would have imagined to see Chelsea in this list, and it would have been if the Colchoneros had done their job at home against Qarabag. Instead, Diego Simeone’s men suffered the misery of just two points in the two clashes against the minnows of the group and are still only on three points, yet to win. Considering how well they had played against Roma in the opening game of the group, this is a terrible situation to be in.
Just a point at home to APOEL Nicosia. Simply not good enough, especially considering how the group had gone so far. Right now it is only goal difference that sees the German team grasping a Europa League spot, but failing to do that would simply be a terrible result, when paired with the struggles in the Bundesliga that saw the 2013 Champions League finalists make way for Bayern Munich.
The problems at this terrible start to the season were all visible at Wembley, as the European Champions never seemed like they could turn the game around. Possibly a lack of motivation – and fair enough after recent results – and concentration: Madrid know they will almost certainly go through to the next round, and can pick up their skills from then onwards. But nonetheless, eight points behind Barcelona in La Liga and three behind Tottenham in the group, whilst having been dominated by Spurs in both games. Something needs to change.