With the conclusion of this week’s Champions League games, there are just two match nights left before the 16 teams heading in to the knock out stage of the competition are known and some of Europe’s heavyweights have their work cut out if they are to do just that, none more so that Borussia Dortmund following the German club’s defeat at home to Arsenal on Wednesday night. Here’s a recap of the biggest talking points
Aarron Ramsey simply cannot stop scoring at the moment. The majestic midfielder bagged his 11th goal of the season in Arsenal’s extremely impressive 1-0 win away to Borussia Dortmund, which kept them top of what is proving to be a thrilling Group F. Prior to this season, Ramsey had only netted 11 times in over 150 appearances for the Gunners, with his recent scoring spree highlighting just how much he has improved in the last three months, together with the team’s overall improved performances, which led to Dortmund manager, Jurgen Klopp, claiming that Wenger’s side is capable of winning the Champions League.
Five star City Progress
At the third time of asking, Manchester City booked their spot in the knockout stages of the Champions League. After two disappointing European campaigns, which ultimately cost former boss Roberto Mancini his job, City now finally look the real deal under new boss Manuel Pellegrini, with their impressive 5-2 victory over CSKA Moskow keeping them within three points of leaders Bayern Munich, meaning they still have a chance of grabbing top-spot.
Sergio Aguero continued his superb run in front of goal with a brace, while Álvaro Negredo netted his first hat-trick for City. A special mention must also go to the rejuvenated playmaker Samir Nasri who was simply scintillating. City have now scored a whopping 12 goals in their last two games.
United Struggle in Spain
Manchester United were the only English club to fail to win this week after enduring a frustrating goalless draw away to Real Sociadad, who up until Tuesday had failed to win a single point in this year’s competition. United dominated for large periods but wasted a handful of clear cut chances, including a second-half penalty, which was blasted against the post by substitute Robin Van Persie.
The controversial manner in which the heavily criticised Ashley Young won the spot-kick has since dominated the back pages, and it is now surely only a matter of time until he departs Old Trafford and it could be argued that Van Persie’s miss was ‘poetic justice’ for his team-mate’s actions.. Meanwhile, Marouane Fellaini once again failed to win over any of his doubters after getting sent off late on after receiving a second yellow card.
Chelsea Respond in Style
Chelsea’s band of stars responded to last weekend’s shock defeat at Newcastle in perfect fashion by recording a comprehensive 3-0 win over Schalke to extend their lead at the top of Group E to three points. Last Saturday the Blues had been lambasted by manager Jose Mourinho for their dismal performance at St James’ Park with the Portuguese boss slating his players’ attitude.
However, Wednesday’s win at home to Schalke was the ideal response and Chelsea now look set to make up for last season’s group stage failure and progress through to the second round, with the London side needing just a point to seal their spot in the last-16.
Celtic Face Uphill Challenge
Celtic suffered a 1-0 victory away to Ajax which saw the Amsterdam outfit leapfrog them into third sport in Group H. However, with two games left to play the fight for second spot, behind Barcelona, remains an engrossing affair. AC Milan are currently in second with five points, followed by Ajax with four points, and then Celtic a further point behind. Neil Lennon’s men now face Milan at Celtic Head in a match they simply have to win, before travelling to Barcelona in their final fixture.
Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich go Marching on
Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich remain the only two club’s left in the competition with a 100% record. Atletico have been particularly impressive, with their 4-0 victory over FK Austria Vienna ensuring that they will be in the draw for the last-16. Meanwhile Bayern came away from Viktoria Plzen with a narrow 1-0 win as they booked their place in the next round, although top spot in Group D is not yet assured.
PSG dropped points for the first time after they were surprisingly held at home by Anderlecht. However, the capital side remain in pole position to finish top, although they will need a vastly improved performance against Olympiakos. Elsewhere Barcelona beat AC Milan 3-1 at the Nou Camp, while Real Madrid drew with Juventus in Italy, with the Italians still searching for their first win in Group B.