Real Madrid continue to live two football existences with an APOEL thrashing while Borussia Dortmund and Monaco fail at first hurdle
Los Blancos are struggling greatly to find momentum in La Liga, but the Champions League remains Real Madrid’s competition. Cristiano Ronaldo has only scored one La Liga goal so far this season, his worst ever start, but is leading the table in Europe, with eight goals in five Champions League games and 18 in the 2017 calendar year. The difference is clear. The 6-0 with which Madrid blew away APOEL is just another proof of the superpower that Zinedine Zidane’s men can be.
There have been suggestions that if Napoli want to have a proper go at winning the domestic title they should drop Europe as soon as possible. But Maurizio Sarri and his men disagree. The Partenopei will at the very least continue their European journey in the Europa League, but will be trying to qualify to the next round of the Champions League until the very end. Lorenzo Insigne’s magical goal was the premise to a great night of football at the Stadio San Paolo, that saw Napoli demolish Shakhtar Donetsk and keep up their chances of going through to the next round.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s record-breaking return to the Champions League – the first footballer to play for seven different clubs – coincided with one of the biggest disappointments for Manchester United this season: Basel scored once to beat José Mourinho’s men 1-0. “It should have been 5-0 at half-time” said the Portuguese manager after the game. But it wasn’t the case, as the Swiss gave a huge boost to their chances of progressing to the next round, and now will have to win in Benfica to go through.
The deja-vu was real in Seville: 3-0 at half time, 3-3 at full time. Liverpool lit up the most incredible Champions League final ever in 2005 with the same exact result pattern, but this time were the unlucky victims. And even though comparing the two games – a final versus a group stage match – would be a mistake, it showed just how fragile the Reds can be when attacked in an aggressive way. Unable to cope with the pressure and control the ball, Liverpool were overwhelmed by the Spanish club in the second-half, having to postpone securing first spot of the group.
The group of death was always going to have a big name to disappoint. Many thought it would be Tottenham, trusting Dortmund’s European experience. What a bad prediction that was. Two points with APOEL, nothing with the others and the risk of not even getting Europa League football. Simply not good enough, and easily one of the most disappointing teams so far this season.
Last season Leonardo Jardim’s men were amongst the biggest surprises in Europe, making it to the Champions League semifinals and winning Ligue 1 ahead of giants Paris Saint-Germain. PSG who decided to splash out the money for Kylian Mbappe, who now runs the show in Paris leaving Monaco with a gap to fill. Radamel Falcao’s scoring ability is not enough, and to crash out of the group stages of the Champions League with two points in five games, losing 1-4 at home to Leipzig is simply a disaster.