Grealish born for the Champions League stage
Jack Grealish and the Champions League are a match made in heaven.
It seemed pretty obvious even before he kicked a ball in the competition. Getting the chance to play on the biggest stage in European club football was one of the main reasons Grealish cited for moving to City from childhood club Aston Villa for a record British fee. His performance in the victory against RB Leipzig only reinforced the decision.
Grealish, playing on the left in a position he’s already established for his new club, started the ball rolling by assisting Nathan Ake’s opening goal from a corner before grabbing the spotlight in the 56th minute.
Perhaps one of his biggest advantages against teams from the Continent is that they could underestimate him. RB Leipzig midfielder Tyler Adams seemed more than happy to allow Grealish to dribble into the box and show him on his right foot. Not a wise decision. Grealish took aim 18 yards and sent a flashing curling shot to the top corner. It was one of City’s nine progressive races. Home fans have a new favorite.
“When I’m in that position on the left side and head to the opponent’s box I would back up one-on-one against anyone to try my luck and this time it paid off,” said Grealish smiling after the game. Game.
“Right from the start of the match I was like, ‘I’ve played in the Champions League now!’ The music and everything was so cool and the match crowned it all. I loved it.”
Not that Pep Guardiola seemed too impressed with Grealish’s exit. The City boss looks as intense as ever on a Champions League night and Grealish has experienced firsthand his manager’s desire to thrive in elite European competition. The England international – and Riyad Mahrez – had a harsh conversation in the second half when City restored their two-goal lead.
“The manager was just talking about defensive work,” said Grealish when asked about his talks with the Spaniard.
“That’s the way he is, he always wants more defensively and offensively, he’s someone I’m going to listen to after everything he’s accomplished in the game. He always gives out useful information.”
Guardiola knows there is so much more to come from her £ 100million man. A scary thought.
Henderson ends drought at Anfield European meeting
Few things in football can compare with the atmosphere generated under the lights of Anfield on a European night out.
After 552 long and painful days without the iconic home of Liverpool hosting the iconic continental tournament, the wait finally ended on Wednesday – and the boy made the game worthy of the occasion.
Since Atletico Madrid traveled to Anfield days before the coronavirus pandemic set in in March 2020, Liverpool have relinquished their Premier League crown and have seen their former stadium fortress beset by Burnley , Brighton, Everton and Fulham, among others.
You would have been forgiven for forgetting how influential Anfield was and still is for the cause of Liverpool, but Milan would have left no doubt after their first visit to Merseyside.
Milan made their first appearance in European elite club competition since 2014 – a staggering absence for a club whose seven titles come second behind Real Madrid in European Cup lore – and yet Liverpool should have run away with the game in the first quarter, as was their dominance and the overwhelming atmosphere it created.
To their credit, Milan showed great determination to cancel home side Fikayo Tomori’s opening goal with goals from Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz within two minutes in the first half after Mohamed Salah made a save on penalty, but their determination only added to the drama. it was to come.
Salah atoned for his missed penalty with the equalizer within three minutes of the restart before the Liverpool captain had the last laugh.
Seven years after his debut Champions League goal, Jordan Henderson doubled his score in the competition with a shot fit to win any game as he threw the smoothest of half volleys into the net as the first Liverpool’s encounter with Milan outside of a final ended with the most satisfying of the first victories.
The power of Anfield is back, and Liverpool could be too.
New CL season, same Man Utd mistakes
There has been a buzz of excitement around Man Utd this summer. The acquisitions of Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho, along with the fairytale return of Cristiano Ronaldo, have catapulted United into the trophy realm – as pundits and commentators have said.
But the last-minute loss to Young Boys on Tuesday abruptly interrupted that positivity – the Champions League is back with a stark reminder that no game is guaranteed.
Man Utd were a big favorite towards Switzerland. The Young Boys have already made six qualifying matches just to reach the group stage and are considered the “weakest” team in Group F. But with a passionate home crowd behind them – like these big boys. Home finals in Europe, like Liverpool’s Kop or Dortmund’s yellow wall – The Young Boys have had one of the best results in their history.
There were two obvious gaps that contributed to the loss. The one that changed the course of the match was Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s red card after an awkward challenge on Christopher Martins. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer immediately called on Diogo Dalot, but United’s defense was in disarray until half-time when there was a move to three back.
“I thought we could have done better in the first half with 11 men,” said Solskjaer. “In the second half we felt in control without the ball. They didn’t create any great chances, but there were two unfortunate goals.”
The second was a bad mistake by Jesse Lingard. Anthony Martial’s introduction to Fred saw him sink deeper into midfield, and his lax pass was brought home by Jordan Pefok with the final kick of the game. It is reminiscent of last season’s Champions League group stages, when two equally shocking defensive errors saw Istanbul Basaksehir score twice in a 2-1 defeat for United.
It seems to be the same old story in Europe for United, and Solskjaer just cannot find the right formula for the Champions League just yet – Man Utd have lost seven of their 11 appearances under him in the competition. In fact, 13% of their total losses in the competition are attributable to Solskjaer (7/54), although the Norwegian is only responsible for 4.8% of their games (11/231).
So, once again, it will be back to the drawing board for Solskjaer and United, but the manager seemed relaxed about his chances of making the round of 16.
“We know we gave ourselves a tougher job than last year, but everyone thought we were done after two games last year,” he said. “You need 10, maybe 12 points, win all your home games and maybe one away. We lost an opportunity to get three points, but we have two next home games and we we’ll focus on those two. “
Rudiger becomes Rolls-Royce defender
The use of Antonio Rudiger has been one of Thomas Tuchel’s many master strokes since joining Chelsea. But with his contract in the summer, Chelsea just have to tie him up.
Frank Lampard had just started using the defender when Tuchel arrived in January. Since then, Chelsea have recorded 23 clean sheets in all competitions, more than any other team in the Big Five European Leagues during that span. Rudiger has started 20 of those games.
He has been imperious this season and brought calm to the defense on Tuesday night as they faced the threat behind Sardar Azmoun. It certainly won’t be his toughest test this season, but the calm – almost nonchalant – in which Rudiger cleared, tackled and dominated was infectious.
It also has an impact on the ground. Much of Chelsea’s risky exploration in the final third comes from feeling that everything is safe behind them if they lose the ball. It will matter more and more this season, with Chelsea now growing up as European champions.
It is clear that Rudiger is playing with supreme confidence; his 70-yard run from the defense almost resulted in one of Tuchel’s reign goals here. Fans love him, but Chelsea must do everything to keep him.
As he stepped out to speak to the media after the game, a fan shouted “sign the contract, Rudi!” Alongside match-winner Romelu Lukaku here, a new contract could just be Chelsea’s most important deal this year.
The vultures will run in circles, and rightly so. Rudiger becomes a Rolls-Royce defender.