Manchester City 2 – Napoli 1
Manchester City now has proven that their style doesn’t just work against lower competition. Napoli, the best team in Italy, came into Manchester and have not dropped a single point in the season so far. They started their normal lineup and for many instances in the game City looked overwhelmingly in control. Having the ball and not letting Napoli create a single chance. At one point Manchester City had 10 shots to none by the Italian side.
This still poses big problems clearing issues up when they lose the ball as seen on Tuesday when they conceded two penalties and Ederson bailed them out in one. The defense needs work but what we learn is this team can play and score versus anyone. Without Aguero, they still created 17 chances and in many instances looked like the team in command.This is the best stretch Manchester city has had under Pep and possibly since the money has flooded the club.
The question now is not if Manchester City can get to an elite level? It is if they can maintain it. They look like the best team in Europe to start the year but it’s extremely hard to keep playing this way all the way up until May. Kevin de Bruyne has looked like the best player in the world and the continued on Tuesday when he hit post and provided yet another assist. Raheem Sterling continued his fine form and scored the first one of the night only to be joined in the scoreboard minutes later by Gabriel Jesus. The squad is clicking and right now it feels like it doesn’t matter the opponent they are going to score.
Watching this match confirms that this Manchester city squad are sure contenders
Chelsea 3 – Roma 3
Chelsea battled it out at Stamford bridge to get a 3-3 draw. Dealing with many injuries, Chelsea got a bit of good news when Morata came back to start, whose performance brought back the free flowing Chelsea we saw earlier in this season. The Blues started David luiz in the midfield because of an injury and it proved to be a blessing in disguise. The Brazilian put in a heavy effort performance where he scored a true golazo to open the scoring. Then Hazard took over, the Belgian is back and better than ever, clearly showing on the day he was the best player on the field. He created almost every play getting the rest of the Chelsea players involved.
Then Chelsea lost the two-goal lead and the Roma side people were expecting started showing up gaining the ball and creating chances themselves. They scored three truly lovely goals and showed the lack of experience Christensen and Rudiger have at the back in a Conte system.
While the result isn’t the best things for the Blues it still puts them in prime position to get out the difficult group and avoided going to a losing streak of three straight games. They showed guts to come back after letting the game slip completely away against Roma and that will be needed if Chelsea wants to make a deep run.
Chelsea has already proven they are one of the contenders this year when they went to Madrid and played masterfully versus Athletico earlier this season. What this game showed is the injuries are really affecting this squad. The loss of Matic and now injuries in the midfield and showed a hole in the team. It has made Conte depend on defenders who are completely new to Chelsea and the team’s style of play. The problems are happening now but when the squad gets back to full strength they should go away.
Manchester United 1- Benfica 0
United’s dull play continues after getting a 1-0 win after a goalkeeper mistake versus Benfica yesterday. The team started the season so well scoring 4-0 wins on multiple occasions, but now the team is getting in the mindset of Mourinho which is: Just results matters. Over the weekend they went to Anfield and played an ugly 0-0 game, now he went to Portugal and got all three points. Playing dull can be a problem,, but if the fans just want results he is getting them.
Getting a point at Anfield is one of the most difficult things to do in England and if you were to ask all the managers in the Prem would they just take the point and not play, they would all probably be yes. It might be frustrating form a neutral point of view. United got a least a point which keeps them in second place of the EPL and the only team currently close to Man City and their fantastic start.
Now we see that same mentality in Europe, and while it may be dull it found success again. When you look at the table Manchester is practically a game away from qualifying for the knockout stage of the Champions League. That is where the club fans want the team.
Ultimately even though Mourinho’s style is boring or anti-football he is giving the Red Devils the success they so deeply have missed since Alex Fergurson left.
Spurs 1 – Real Madrid 1
Spurs went to the Kings of Europe, Real Madrid and got a 1-1 draw. The result now puts Spurs is a great position of getting out of the group of death with two home games still remaining. While Madrid still clearly shows they were the better side of the night they couldn’t prove it and find the winning break through.
The result was even more surprising when you add the factor that Dele Ali wasn’t available in the game. The young Englishmen is one of the most important in the north London but it gave way for Harry Winks to make a name for himself. The other youngster in the squad came in and played a full 90 minutes and held in versus the defending champions. Madrid is known for having the best midfield in Europe and none of them were able to overshadow Winks. The 21-year-old has just 26 appearances with the club but expect a lot more performances from him.
Moves, like playing Winks and moving Kane and Llorente up top together, shows how much Pochetino believes in his whole squad and he is the perfect manager for the post. He knows how to move the squad around through big matches and shows belief in the academy. While they have lost pace with leaders Manchester City they and still within distance and finally showing the maturity to compete on multiple fronts. While I still see no way they win both competitions they are setting themselves up to have a choice later in the year.
Liverpool 7 – Maribor 0
Liverpool essentially had a road-friendly on Tuesday when they went to Maribor and beat them 7-0. All the goals the team couldn’t finish over the weekend we’re going in. This game showed the great high pace offense Klopp has and can implement. The back line wasn’t really pushed a single time in the game. It was really one of those games where a team is just practicing versus the other. This game is not the test for Liverpool, but with Sevilla dropping points, Liverpool now looks in prime position to win the group and get a good pairing next round.
England is known for failing in Europe in recent years but this year feels different. The English teams look like they are playing with a purpose to perform well and by the first three match days they have yet to lose. They have conceded the least amount of goals of the top four leagues even though they have the most teams out of anyone. While an English team hasn’t won in a while, if you compare the table amount of all the top four leagues the British teams have had by far the best start.