Tuesday, February 23, 2016

It Happened in Europe: Barcelona hammers Gunners, Juve climbs back to draw Bayern

Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona
The Gunners task was simple. They needed to defend their colective asses off and hope for a smash and grab 1-0 victory in the home leg against one of the greatest sides the world has ever seen. It was evident right from the start that a flurry of Barcelona pressure would be the norm for the whole match. Barcelona's possession advantage was seemingly off the charts.  Arsenal's counter attacking strategy could only be sparsely implemented, but they did get one first half chance. Olivier Giroud latched onto a bounding ball in the penalty area around the half hour mark, but he sent his shot straight to the keeper. In general, it was Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, and Neymar ruling the roost, although Arsenal's defense kept them from sending any real threats towards goal.

The second half started much the same way as the first. Barcelona pressured, Arsenal mounted a counter attack every ten minutes or so. Giroud had a header that forced another save out of the Barca keeper. After the hour mark, both sides began to look threatening. Suarez missed the post by a couple inches on on attempt, Giroud screwed up a finish on the other end. Arsenal's midfield began to look competent for a while as they were able to mount a more sustained attack around the 70 minute mark. It didn't work out well for them. Instead of Arsenal punching on the counter, it was Lionel Messi breaking as Arsenal allowed it's midfield to get too involved in the attack to give Barcelona the 1-0 lead in the 72nd minute. The goal didn't mean Barcelona would let up. Six minutes later, Suarez was gifted an easy tap in that he rifled straight into the near post from point plank range. The match ws sunk in the 83rd minute when Mattieu Flamini, within minutes of being introduced as a substitute, committed an obvious penalty against Messi, allowing the Argentine superstar to easily double the lead from the spot.

It was far from what Arsenal was hoping for, but it was just about what most of the world expected. Two Barcelona away goals to a big fat zero on the Arsenal side should be more than enough to see the defending champions into the quarterfinals. Not that this is anything Arsenal isn't used to.They have gone down in the first leg of many a Champions League knockout round tie. But whereas last year, a comeback against Monaco seemed possible, a comeback against Barcelona is a herculean task that I'm not entirely sure any club in the world is up to.

Juventus 2-2 Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich controlled this match in much the same way Barcelona did. Their possession advantage wasn't quite as insane, but they at least managed a first half goal. Thomas Muller was the proveder in the 43rd minute. ArjenRobben doubled tghe advantage ten minutes into the second half before Juve could pile back into the game. They did, however, get something. Paulo Dybala put the Italians on the board in the 63rd minute. They decided not to stop at one goal as Stefano Sturaro levelled in the 76th.

It was a big comeback for Juventus. The away goals for Bayern should be enough to cripple last year's runners up in the second leg, however. Keeping the German giants off the scoreboard will be tough enough, but can Juve also put in a goal or two of their own the neutralize the advantage? Bayern looked pretty strong for much of this away match, I'm not sure Juve will have it in them to hold them down on the road.

No comments:

Post a Comment