UCL Recap: Barca unstoppable, PSG collapsed

The final round of the Uefa Champions League qualifying stages didn’t have any surprises: Manchester United, Paris Saint-German, Barcelona and Chelsea remained on top of their respective groups, moving on as first seeds and claiming themselves as serious title contenders.

Instead, Juventus, Roma, FC Basel and Bayern Munich advanced as second seeds. The list of qualified teams also includes Manchester City, Besiktas, Real Madrid and Tottenham who have already earned a ticket for the next round after only five games.

The Red Devils offered another convincing performance tonight, winning 2-1 against CSKA Moscow. Although they faced average opponents in their group, they have never looked so solid since Mourinho took on the manager role.

The other English contender, Chelsea, tied 1-1 against Atletico Madrid tonight. After some visible struggles in the beginning of the season, the Blues are finally getting back on track thanks to the help of Morata and Hazard, who are the cornerstone of this major turnaround.

Nothing much to say about Barcelona, other than the Blaugrana are simply unstoppable. Even when they bench Messi and switch up the lineup, they cruise past other opponents and dominate the game. Why do I say that? Very simple: Try to put yourself into Sporting players’ shoes tonight and play against a team who holds the ball 62% in 90 minutes during a UCL game. Then, you let me know how that feels…

Different story for PSG. They have now lost two games in a row and the red flag is up in the air. They destroyed every opponent in the first five matches, scoring 24 goals and allowing just one. Tonight, Emery put almost all his starters in the game, but they collapsed 3-1 against Bayern Munich.

Yes, we’re talking about Bayern Munich with a different coach who regenerated this team lately, but I now question PSG’s stability entering the second half of the season. If the loss against Strasbourg didn’t seem that big of a deal, it definitely means something more after tonight, especially when opposing players score goals and waive you the “L.” PSG better keep that intimidating factor going if they want to raise the UCL trophy after a 21-year drought.

Tomorrow, the rest of the teams will play to clinch the final four remaining spots. The big matches of the day should be Shakhtar-Manchester City, where Guardiola will try to keep his hot streak alive, and Liverpool-Spartak Moscow, considering that the Reds cannot afford to lose and put their qualification in jeopardy.

 

 

A graduate of Farmingdale State College with a B.S. in Sports Management and current second-year student at Touro Law Center. Born and raised in Varese, Italy. DIII soccer and golf player. 360-degree sports fan with a burning passion for soccer and basketball.