Over the past two nights, we have seen four Champions League matches take place, two of which included English teams and were held at their home stadiums in England. Both games were difficult for the English sides as one took on the Spanish Champions and the other took on the German Champions, who are also the defending Champions League winners. On Tuesday, Manchester City welcomed Barcelona to the Etihad Stadium for the first competitive time ever, and on Wednesday, Arsenal hosted Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium.
It looked as though the pressure of the Champions League got to the English teams as both, Man City and Arsenal had one man sent off each, changing the outcome of the games. In the game at the Etihad, it was Manchester City’s defender Martín Demichelis who put in a late tackle on Lionel Messi to give away a penalty and receive a red card for his actions. Barcelona continued on to win the game 2-0 as Messi converted the penalty and Dani Alves scored a last minute goal. However, the City team could argue that the foul was outside the box and should have been a free-kick, not a penalty.
That City loss means that they will go to Barcelona and will need to win 2-0 in order to take the game to extra-time, but scoring two goals at the Nou Camp without conceding is extremely difficult. In the other Champions League game at the Emirates, it was the Gunners’ goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny who got himself sent off and gave away a penalty in the 36th minute. Bayern missed that penalty, but later on took advantage of Arsenal having 10 men as the German side stormed to a 2-0 triumph. Arsenal are in the same predicament as Man City as they need a 2-0 win to take the game to extra-time, but similarly, scoring two goals away at the Allianz Arena without conceding is very rare.
Elsewhere in the Champions League, next week will see Manchester United and Chelsea play their round of 16 games as the Red Devils will take on Olympiakos away, whilst Chelsea travel to Galatasaray. After those games, the more crucial matches will take place, the second legs. In around mid-March, the second legs will begin as the hosting privileges will swap and it will be decided who advances to the Champions League quarter-finals.
Author Daniel Foster.
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