The Champions League returned with a bang this week and it didn’t disappoint. Heres a look at this week’s winner and losers from club football’s greatest competition.
It would be unfair to single out any one player from the PSG side that dismantled Barcelona 4-0 in the Parc des Princes on Tuesday. Unai Emery’s men totally overpowered and outclassed the Catalans. Special praise must be given to Marco Verratti, the diminutive midfielder pulled the stings and outshone the likes of Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta. Julian Draxler embarrassed Sergi Roberto on the right wing while Angel Di Maria produced two sublime finishes to celebrate his 29th birthday. Edison Cavani also got in on the act as PSG declared their aspirations for European glory.
Arjen Robben reminded everyone of his quality with stunning strike to begin Bayern Munich’s 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal. The Dutch international picked up the ball on the left wing and dribbled to the edge of the area with three Arsenal players in pursuit before curling the ball with pin point accuracy into the top corner of David Ospina’s goal. Bayer have been accused of not being at their best this season. Robben’s goal was the pick of the bunch last night as the German giants silenced their critics.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has already accepted responsibility for his sides lacklustre performance on Tuesday. The Spanish media have pointed to his team selection has his downfall midweek. He opted to start summer signing Andre Gomes in midfield instead of Ivan Rakitic. Gomes is knowing for slowing down the game and putting him in alongside Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta saw the Catalan’s passing intensity drop to an unrecognisable level. The midfield was practically invisible as Marco Verratti reminded Barca fans of what their midfield was once like. Rakitic was introduced late into the second half and his work rate and energy was immediately apparent.
Enrique lost the services of Dani Alves this season and has been experimenting with Sergi Roberto at right back. The youngster has looked out of his depth on the right and has been unable to fill the void left by Alves. Aleix Vidal looked certain to claim the staring right back position but he dislocated his ankle last weekend and will miss the remainder of the season. It all comes back to Enrique he splashed the cash to sign Gomes despite Barca’s abundance of midfielders neglecting to replace the influential Alves. Enrique requires a miracle in the second leg if his side are to progress.
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang
It was a night to forget for Pierre Emerick Aubameyang on Tuesday. The Borussia Dortmund striker missed a host of chances including a penalty as the Germans lost 1-0 away to Benfica. Aubameyang has been in flying form for the Dortmund this season but his penalty attempt was laughable. He went straight down the middle allowing Ederson Moraes to palm his effort away. Dortmund look to be the better side but they may well yet rue their inability to secure an away goal.
So there we have it. Those are my ultimate winners and losers from this week’s Champions League ties.