The Runner Sports

Two Shock Results Headline Champions League Matchday

I do believe the Champions League participants were out to break soccer Twitter today.  As is my typical Champions League tradition, I set out to watch what I deemed to be the best match, in this case, it was the Manchester City road trip to PSG.  Logically Wolfsburg, who was coming off a bad defeat to Bundesliga corporate rivals Bayern Leverkusen 3-0, had no real chance to hang with Real Madrid who was coming off an El Clasico victory.

Initially, my decision looked to be the correct one as Manchester City was creating chances and putting pressure on the PSG backline from the opening, even forcing David Luiz into a yellow card just seconds into the match.  PSG was also creating chances from the beginning as the pairing of Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala was always going to give City fans heart problems.

It only took until the thirteenth minute for these two matches to begin their meltdown of Twitter.  First, PSG was given a penalty and with another referee, it might have been their second.  Then with the famous Zlatan Ibrahimovic stepping up to the stop, crazy Joe Hart somehow made a diving save to keep the match scoreless.  What makes the Zlatan miss so shocking is that he is one of the best volume penalty takers in the world, converting at a rate near 90% for his career.

The miss was just the opening salvo in the afternoon of madness as but five minutes later, Wolfsburg was awarded a penalty on a very difficult decision by the referee as Andre Schurrle’s ankle was clipped by Casemiro.  This was after a Cristiano Ronaldo goal was called offside by the narrowest of margins.  Oh how differently the match would have shaped up to be if two calls were reversed.

Unlike Zlatan, Ricardo Rodriguez was able to power home a penalty to put Wolfsburg up 1-0.

Wolfsburg wasn’t done yet as just seven minutes later Maxi Arnold was able to deftly turn a sharp cross into the Real Madrid net to increase the lead to 2-0.  That is when the flood gates opened on Twitter with memes mocking Real Madrid.  Here’s my favorite:


That would prove to be all the goals scored as Wolfsburg was able to fend off all advances of a Real Madrid club that has been riding an emotional roller coaster all season.  Despite winning El Clasico the over the weekend, Real Madrid doesn’t appear to be a squad constructed in the proper manner.  The manager coming into the season, Rafa Benitez (who is now with Newcastle, how far he has fallen) wanted to set up to counter.  He built a lineup that was designed to feature Ronaldo and Bale breaking on lightning quick strikes after defending deeper.  The new manager, after the midseason switch, Zinedine Zidane, has been criticized for attempting to change this strategy without really knowing how.

Zidane has been setting up his team in such a way that requires wide players Ronaldo and Bale to defend and not unexpectedly Ronaldo, in particular, is unwilling to acquiesce.  Doing this puts all the more strain on a midfield that is suddenly outnumbered.  Combine this with the fact that Zidane wants his squad to maintain possession and break opponents down, difficulty is almost a guarantee. Elsewhere in Paris, Manchester City scored a goal heading toward half time in the 37th minute.  For those that have been following City during their European adventures, know that it was only a matter of time before the other shoe dropped.  It didn’t take long as but three minutes later this happened:

The remainder of the match was a flurry of end to end action that saw both clubs score a goal to leave the tie at 2-2 and Manchester City in a very good position to advance on the strength of away goals.

PSG did have the better opportunities and possession, yet Manchester City may have finally gained the experience and mental fortitude to see off a difficult European assignment.  To gain a draw away from home against a top ten club in the world has to be considered major progress, especially considering Vincent Kompany was out injured.

On the day, both matches provided hilarious gaffs, exciting goals, outraged fanbases, and ultimately all four clubs can conceivably advance to the next round.

John Harbeck

Ohio sports and all things soccer.If you like my writing follow me @JHarbeck5 on twitter

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