Category Archives: Champions League

ARSENAL VS TOTTENHAM: LESSONS LEARNT FROM LIVERPOOL LOSS

Yes, I know. We lost to Liverpool 3 goals to 1. It sucks! We were on such a high, having won the first two games of the season. We were reaching for the stars. It was a wonderful start. We were getting there; we could do this, and by this, I mean win our matches back to back from the start to the end of the season.

And, why wouldn’t we have such hope? We had just brought in ‘superstar’-level players in our ranks unlike previous seasons under Wenger. Our top scorer last season was hitting the ground running with two goals in two games; our midfield was becoming stronger thanks to the addition of Ceballos, a box-to-box midfielder with Cazorla-like qualities; our defense was seemingly getting stronger with the added expertise of David Luiz.

But, it all came undone last Saturday when we lost 3 goals to 1. It would have been much worse, I’m sure because as you know, this is the LIVERPOOL! The current Champions League and Super Cup holders. The scariest team in the EPL right now because of their pace, defensive prowess, midfield tenacity, and lethal attack!

So, yeah, we did not have much hope going into this game, and I feel sorry for any naive Arsenal fan who thought we could come out of the game with a point, or even three 🙂

I’m just glad we did not lose as badly as the other few times we’ve played against Liverpool. That is my only consolation at the moment.

I am also glad that our loss to this formidable team was not as pathetic as Manchester United’s loss to Crystal Palace. 🙂

That being said, there are some areas that I hope have been improved upon before our game tomorrow with another difficult team, Tottenham.

  • Defense

Here, I’m mainly talking about David Luiz. His performance in this match was a far cry from the leadership quality he exhibited in our match against Burnley.

The second half especially was horrible for the defender, raising a lot of doubt as to whether he has the right mind frame to be a leader at Arsenal’s backline.

Grabbing Salah’s shirt like that in a bid to stop his attack was plain immature and unprofessional. And we paid heavily because of his actions as the referee awarded Salah a penalty…arrrgh!

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I think we’ve just caught the first glimpses of why people refer to Luiz as a loose cannon.

For Salah’s second goal, you really cannot blame Luiz for being unable to defend him, because Salah is that good. However, the other defenders should have fallen back to offer additional support for both Luiz and Leno.

One more performance like this from Luiz, to add on to our already super-fragile defense, and we are going to need a miracle to make it even to the top five teams at the end of the season.

  • Style of play

Truth be told, we did not choose the right defensive style of play for this particular game.

We chose a high line style of play, which is mainly used against teams that love to possess and pass the ball a lot. It is ineffective against a team that is prolific in fast-break soccer as is the case with Liverpool.

Being caught left-footed by the Liverpool forwards and wing midfielders is probably why Luiz out of frustration for not being able to catch up with Salah, opted to pull at the forward’s shirt instead, in a bid to stop him from moving forward.

It’s probably why he could not intercept the ball during the build-up to Salah’s second goal.

Once Liverpool instituted the fast-break, our high line plus their immense pace made it difficult, if not almost impossible to keep Liverpool’s attack at bay.

  • Shooting Accuracy

Maybe if everything behind was working as planned, then the forwards would have much better chances at scoring.

But, that does not negate the fact that Arsenal had 9 shots at goal, 3 on target, but failed to convert most of these, aside from Torreira‘s goal late in the game.

Our shooting accuracy was at 33.3%, not bad when you compare it to Liverpool’s 20%, but they had 3 goals and we had 1. We definitely need to improve on this.

Nicholas Pepe would do well to improve his shooting accuracy. He had the best chances to score in the first half and would have probably saved the match for us if he had converted those chances.

  • Indecisive New Signings

Our new signings were not as impressive in this match as they were against our first two opponents.

Ceballos, for instance, shined in the match against Burnley, to the point that he was declared the man of the match. Against Liverpool, though, he was practically mute! How does that even happen?

As mentioned above, Pepe wasted a couple of chances in front of goal, which were, by the way, our best chances at getting at least a draw in this match.

Also mentioned is Luiz’ complete malfunction during this match, the total opposite of how he performed against Burnley.

So, yes! Our new signings might still need a little more time to settle in…sadly, time is a luxury we do not have at the moment.

 

 

 

That’s all I have for now; come back and let’s compare notes after the #ARSTOT game tomorrow.

Ciao!

SOCCER BLOG

 

ARSENAL VS LIVERPOOL: KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

24/08/2019.

The 24th of August 2019.

This is the day that Arsenal will play its third Premier League match of the 2019/2020 season.

Our first two matches were against formidable teams, but somehow we managed to pull through, and win both.

Our next match will be the toughest one yet as we will be playing against Liverpool.

The same Liverpool that just recently won the Super Cup by beating Chelsea on penalties.

The same Liverpool that managed to win the Champions League last season by beating Tottenham 2 goals to nil. The Liverpool that completely THRASHED the one and only Barcelona 4 goals to zero in the second leg of their semi-final Champions League match.

Remember, this is the Liverpool that also beat Porto 6-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals of the CL, and before that, they had done away with Bayern Munich by putting three in the net against Bayern’s solitary goal.

This is also the Liverpool that hammered us 5 goals to 1 last December.

Yes, 29th December 2018, a date that I as an Arsenal fan will never forget. It took me months to get over that humiliation.

So, yeah, Arsenal is going up against that Liverpool.

Is there any hope? Will this be our first loss this season?

We’ll just have to wait for this Saturday to see what happens. (Best case scenario, the game ends in a draw; most likely scenario- we lose; most unlikely scenario, Liverpool lose).

But, before that, there is absolutely no harm in looking at the key players from both sides who can have a major effect on how that game turns out.

We’ll start from the back.

  • Bernd Leno- Arsenal

Here’s a little stat for all of us Arsenal fans to sweat over- we’ve conceded at least three goals in our last four trips to Anfield.

Can Leno change the tide?

Will he be able to stop the Salah, Mane, Firmino, etc goals from coming in despite the blunders our defense might make?

Can he communicate effectively enough with our defense to ensure that none of those blunders occur?

  • Sokratis Papastothoupoulous- Arsenal

He’s mainly on this list because he let the world know that he thinks our upcoming match against Liverpool will be easier than our match with Burnley, defensively speaking.

That’s a shocking statement when you consider that Burnley ended up at position 15 last season, while Liverpool was second.

Let us not forget Liverpool’s dangerous attacking trio of Salah, Mane, and Firmino. Will his new-found partnership with David Luiz be able to contend with the pace, creativity, skill, and goal-scoring prowess of these three Liverpool greats?

Another constant threat he will have to contend with, Trent Alexander Arnold. This Liverpool right-back is a formidable ball crosser, and he can run a riot on our defense if Sokratis and Luiz don’t keep a lid on him.

And then, this is Sokratis. He’s bound to make a mistake, but at least not as unforgivable as Mustafi’s. Will his mistake today cost us this crucial game?

I have my doubts, but, we’ll just have to wait and see…

  • David Luiz

As I mentioned in my earlier post, we really need this man, ESPECIALLY today!

He’ll be the one to offer some leadership at the back, and possibly clean up Sokratis mistakes, plus offer support to Niles, Monreal, and Chambers.

Good luck!

  • Virgil van Dijk-Liverpool

I’ll admit it; this guy is hot! But, his team is playing against mine today, so my gonads will have to take a back seat this team.

He is a potent defensive threat with the ability to create and score goals as well.

He was a Ballon D’or nominee in the last Champions League season, so yes, he is definitely someone we should be wary of going into the game.

Let us see if Ceballos, Aubamayeng, and Lacazette can manage to pull the wool over this guy at least once during the game.

  • Trent Alexander Arnold- Liverpool

What more can be written about this young right back’s impeccable crossing ability, speed, agility, and work rate?

His ability to cause trouble along the right flank regardless of the defense muscle he meets means the likes of Niles, and our entire backline is going to have their work truly cut out for them.

He had 13 assists last season, and I’m sure he is fully intending to replicate and surpass that record this season as well.

  • Fabinho and Georginio – Liverpool

The more I write about this topic, the more I realize how difficult it is going to be.

Fabinho and Georginio are a wonder pair in central midfield, and it’s going to be an uphill task launching a counter-attack for Arsenal when these two are on the pitch.

Somebody, please #prayforarsenal

Oh yeah, and our former player, Oxlade-Chamberlain could be playing today as well in midfield. That’s another reason to be worried, especially if he plans on playing his heart out just to prove a point…

  • Granit Xhaka- Arsenal

Another reason why somebody has to please #prayforarsenal!

Torreria is still not match-ready, so we are stuck with Xhaka. He’s really useful when it comes to aerial defending of set pieces.

BUT…

…he has this uncanny ability to get dispossessed in midfield, and causing fouls when he’s trying to win back the ball.

One mistake from Xhaka today, and our midfield collapses, our defense scrambles, and before you know it, a goal!

Pray for us, people, pray for us!

  • Matteo Guendouzi- Arsenal

I love his hair! And, he’s definitely a bright spot in our midfield.

I hope his pace can help create chances for the strikers, and cause problems for Liverpool’s backline.

He’s going to come a lot in handy when it comes to our quick counter-attacks.

  • Dani Ceballos- Arsenal

He has been all the rage since his full debut for Arsenal against Burnley. He has all of the qualities we have been missing in our midfield since Cazorla left.

Let’s just hope that he brings his A-game today, otherwise we are truly doomed.

He has the potential of giving our forwards all the crucial passes that can lead to goals. He also can help with the defensive duties that might prove overwhelming to our still struggling backline.

He is one of our main hopes for avoiding a major embarrassment against Liverpool, and I hope he can truly rise to the occasion.

  • Lacazette and Aubamayeng- Arsenal

So far, our strikers have been an incredible duo.

However, they are going to have to dig really deep in order to penetrate Liverpool’s defense.

If they can get a goal each in this game, then this season will be much more rewarding for Arsenal.

  • Firmino – Liverpool

You’ll remember this Brazilian forward from our 5-1 near-death experience last December. He scored a bloody hat-trick on that day, and since then, I have been unable to get the image of his pearly white teeth from my mind. He has scored at least 11 goals against us, which is more than his tally against any other club in the English Premier League.

Trouble!

  • Salah- Liverpool

Salah is a force to reckon with all on his own, and our defenders are going to have a hard time stopping him from hammering at least one against us.

He is yet to rediscover his magical scoring touch, let’s just pray his re-awakening does not happen tomorrow.

  • Mane – Liverpool

Another huge threat who does not seem to ever have an off-switch! He has scored the most goals for Liverpool since the year began, and I don’t think he’s planning to take a break from his goal-scoring racket.

Fingers crossed, he has a cold tomorrow or something that stops him from seeing the goal.

And, there you have it. 15 players that I will be keeping a close eye on today because they have the potential of taking this game either way.

This is a big game for us, and it’s going to take each player to give their best in order to contain Liverpool.

Good luck, and God speed, Boys!!!

EPIC FOOTBALL NIGHTS-MAY 2019

There are some nights that live with you forever!

I’ve had three of those nights back to back. What makes these nights even more special is that I just turned 28 at the beginning of last week.

It’s been a beautiful week thanks to amazing football comebacks and feats that nearly everyone couldn’t imagine possible.

Liverpool vs Barcelona

Going into this match, we all thought that it would be a walkover for Barcelona. I mean the first leg of this draw was an absolute disaster for Liverpool, losing 3-0 to perhaps the greatest team of all time.

There was no coming back for Liverpool on this one. They had to know the situation was utterly hopeless as the game drew nearer. They just had to.

But, these, ladies and gentlemen, are mad men. They don’t understand the meaning of impossible.

And, there’s a saying about mad men getting to do the impossible.

This entire team is full of mad men. They dared to dream, they dared to fight, they dared to stare down this monumental obstacle that was on their path to Champions League glory, and overcome it.

You have to understand the gravity of the situation they found themselves in on the night of 7th May 2019.

I’ve already told you that they went into the match with a 3-0 disadvantage.

Barcelona had all of their star players fit and ready to slaughter the Reds. Messi, one of the main contenders of the GOAT title, showed up, ready to blow us away with his outer worldly skills.

Remember, he scored two of the three Barcelona goals in the first leg of this semi final draw. He was coming to finish the job, no doubt about that!

Coutinho and Suarez, two former Liverpool greats, were also in the Barca line-up.

Things weren’t looking so optimistic on the Liverpool side. Roberto Firminio, the man with the amazing teeth wasn’t going to play.

To make everything worse, neither was Salah! Salah, the man who almost singlehandedly brought life into a fading Liverpool team last season.

The man who almost led them to Champions League glory last year, but bad boy Sergio Ramos had other nefarious intentions.

Yes. That man, the Liverpool talisman, the gods’ gift to Premier League football would not be there to try and undo the damage done to his team in the first leg.

To make this entire situation absolutely soul crushing for Liverpool, they were and still are neck to neck with Manchester City for the Premier League title.

That means they’ve been working overtime just to stay on top.

Meanwhile, Barcelona had already won their domestic title, and had the weekend to relax.

No one was giving Liverpool time off to relax.

But, despite all of these seemingly insurmountable odds, Liverpool did it.

They won the chance to go to the final by defeating THE Barcelona, 4-3 on aggregate score.

They destroyed Barcelona in a way we haven’t seen it done before. It was truly orgasmic to watch.

My men of the match: Trent Alexander Arnold, Divock Origi, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker and my namesake, Georginio Wijnaldum.

If there has ever been a real live football super sub in recent history, it has to be that man, Georginio (my namesake 😁😁).

And that corner kick from Trent Alexander the Arnold is an absolute masterclass from such a young player. And, let’s not forget all of the times that he stole possession from Barca players including and especially Jodi Alba.

Van Dijk is on this list because a) he gave his all in the night of question, the same way he does every night, and

b) he is soooooooooo hot. If my boyfriend and I don’t work out, I might just give Virgil a call, and see where this thing can go.

Becker made some incredible saves and kept Liverpool’s hopes alive.

And, of course Origi! Those two goals were simply sublime. And, he has Kenyan blood, so there is that.

I can’t wait to see them topple Tottenham in the final on June 1st. That is going to be another epic night.

And, I can’t wait to see Liverpool take the Premier League as well. They deserve it!

On to the next amazing night…

Tottenham vs Ajax

After that exhilarating performance by Liverpool on 7th, I was content with the level of football action I had received. I couldn’t ask for more. That would have just been selfish of me.

But, alas, the football gods must have been feeling pretty benevolent this particular week.

Tottenham managed to make a second half comeback that transformed them from underdogs to Champions League finalists.

One man Lucas Moura truly stood out in that game. He scored a hatrick within the last 41 minutes of the game to take his team to the final.

Guess you can say he’s a 41-minute type of man (a bit too long for me but I could work with it 😉😉😉).

I know, I’m nasty. Moving along swiftly…

Imagine that!

They were already three goals down by the start of the second half. There was nowhere but down for them.

And then, here comes Moura scoring a brace in less than four minutes, and adding to his night tally right at stoppage time.

Wow! If that isn’t exhilaratingly orgasmic, I don’t know what is!

Thank you Spurs for making my Wednesday night one to remember for ages to come.

I’m so proud of Moura, so so so so proud!

And now to a team that is truly close to my heart… Arsenal.

Arsenal Vs Valencia

I won’t sugarcoat it. Arsenal have been sucking balls these last few weeks. We had every opportunity to stamp our dominance in the top 4 this season, but we squandered them away, like we usually do.

But, there is hope.

We are through to the Europa finals thanks to Aubameyang’s life saving hat trick, and Lacazette’s solitary goal.

I feel like it’s been so long since we had such an amazing performance from my team. I am glad that we still got it.

And, this means we still get to go to Champions League next season, despite finishing number five on the table. Yaaaaaaaay for us!

Yeah…so I’m a pretty happy girl now! I turned 28, and the gods decided to gift me with 3 incredible football performances that absolutely blew my mind.

Cheers to many more great football nights this year, and for the rest of our lives.

THE CL FINAL, PARENTS, AND ABORTION

To be honest, that Champions League Final was not as epic as I had anticipated it to be. Maybe because the team I was supporting lost, or maybe because they lost undeservedly. There was something really off about that game especially when Salah had to leave the game so unexpectedly.

It broke my heart. Like, literally, I felt a sharp pang inside me when he went down from that Ramos tackle. And a wave of anger, confusion, disbelief, and bewilderment washed over me as I watched him try to soldier on, and eventually leave the pitch.

There is a dark, lonely hell waiting for Ramos, I hope he knows it. (Please sign this petition in order to have him punished for his intentional assault on Salah; be a trooper and let’s change the world together).

And then there was Karius. His career is obviously over, and I hope he knows that. I am not feeling empathetic towards this man and his situation right now. I doubt I ever will. And that says a lot considering I feel sorry for almost everyone and everything, regardless of what they have done. Well, except bad popes, bad US presidents, all Kenyan presidents, and the rapist that lives in the hood I grew up in (why is this man still alive?).

Anyway, back to Karius. I am convinced he half-arsed that game; all I want to know is why. Just why. He is toooooooo fine to be making such egregious mistakes at such a stage. There has to be a reason behind his poor performance. There just has to be!

I hear he could be going to Rimini FC; let’s see how that works out.

So, my heart bled that night, that game cut me really deep. But, I noticed something else, something outside the game. I really really really really enjoy my parents’ company. I thought football was just my thing because I am the only one in this family who consistently takes the time to watch these matches. It’s a big deal because I’m the only girl…in a family of five.

But, last Saturday night, I realized that football could be a family thing. Okay, not my brothers, I feel like they feel that they have better things to do. Things I’d rather die than do. But, it could be a thing for me and my 70-year-old parents to do together; our thing on top of the other many things that we do together like going to church together, and watching and arguing about Kikuyu soap operas on Inooro.

Which reminds me; we have been having a recurring conversation over the last few Saturdays that I have visited them. It revolves around my love life; specifically my lack of one. They are a tad concerned that I do not seem to be in a hurry to find someone, scratch that, get knocked up. Yes, my parents want me to get knocked up, and they do not care whether there will be a man or not in the picture. I can even quote them word for word, but I have never really known how to write in Kikuyu, so I will spare you. My dad is particularly unbemused by the fact that I may not want to have children.

That man wants a grandbaby, and he wants one now! Too bad for him because he knows my ovaries are waiting for Miguna Miguna to become president.

So, yes, football. We had so much fun that night. I made my dad laugh so hard with one of my reactions, he nearly choked. And they love how dramatic I get in life in general, but more specifically, when I’m watching football. And my mum, the antagonist that she always is, was on Real Madrid’s side. You have not had your worst football experience as a fan until you have to live through your own mother berating you and your team, and actually celebrating as you mourn. Her taunts were like swallowing hot glass; she’s really good at it (the taunting, not the swallowing hot glass part). IT WAS BEAUTIFUL!!

It felt much more fulfilling than if I was at some club somewhere, or at my place, alone. I cannot wait to watch many more games with them during the World Cup. This is going to be epic.

Oh yeah, I also found out they are pro-abortionists later on that night. I was shocked, especially hearing it from my dad. They believe women do not need to go through unwanted pregnancies. They think the reason why there are so many kids on the street, and so many kids into drug abuse is because their mothers never wanted them from the get-go. Why bring a child into this world when you know you’re never going to love them the way they deserve?

I cannot wait to uncover more layers of my parents’ inner thoughts over a series of football matches.

Happy days, people! Happy days.

COULD THIS BE THE END OF THE MOST BORING ERA EVER? I HOPE SO…BUT NOT SO FAST!!

(PS: Long post ahead; Barca’s misery makes me happy, hence, I have a lot to say!!)

Barcelona’s ‘global’ soccer dominance received a seismic shock on Tuesday last week when they were THROWN OUT of the Champions League competition (I was so so so happy).

It would have been less of a shock if they were dumped out of the CL by a superior team. But, let’s face it, there is hardly a team that deems itself superior to Barca let alone equal to these Spanish giants.

I am sure Roma knew they were done for the minute they were drawn against Barcelona for the CL Quarter Finals. I do not think they expected to survive the second leg let alone beat Barca on aggregate score.

They were thoroughly thrashed in the first leg with Barcelona scoring four to their measly one goal. But, they turned it all around in the second leg on Tuesday last week by beating Barcelona 3-0; the aggregate score was 4-4 and Roma went through because of the away goal rule.

It was such a rare unexpected comeback for Roma at this stage against such a team and a shockingly cruel and an unimaginable turn of events for Barcelona.  Just last year in the same competition at the same stage, Barca had been able to claw through PSG’s 4 goal lead from their first leg, and beat the French giants 6-5 on aggregate score in their second leg match (this was a beautiful night of football btw).

So what’s the dish? What made Barcelona go from King of the CL comeback in 2017 to the biggest victim of comebacks in 2018?

The answer is that alot contributed to their fall from grace last week, but let me start by saying that I have NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER liked Barcelona. (Hence, some of the views presented in this post may be slightly biased).

Their style of play, for me, is completely outdated and makes every game a drag! It is crucial to have a formation for the squad, but, let it come with some spontaneity and bring the game alive. Neymar, Suarez, and Messi used to bring the wow factor when they played together, but before and after this trio, it was just boring!

Arguably, they may not use tiki taka at every instance, but, come on, that is the go-to technique for that midfield (that never seems to get replaced).

I also feel like tiki taka is a bullying technique of sorts; mentally and physically for the opponents, which is fine until it becomes a tad too predictable, too domineering, and the players do not often have to think outside of the box in order to win the game. Tiki taka has curtailed their creative expression (don’t roll your eyes, it’s the truth!!).

Anyway, back to the topic. For me, the biggest reason for their poor performance last week was tired, lethargic players. Why would Barcelona have tired players when they have such a good line up sitting on the bench?

Because Valverde seems not to have learned the beautiful art of squad rotation regardless of competition or stage. His over-reliance on his top scorer is evident, and it seems he was a bit too scared to muddy the waters by experimenting with other players. I know nearly everyone considers Messi as some god (more like freak of nature), but even he deserves a break. We have barely seen the likes of Alacer, D. Suarez, and Gomes being used when it counts, and I’m sure they would have a profound impact if they are not forced to live in Messi’s shadow, were taught the ropes, and were allowed to be as creative as they want.

Another closely connected area that the Barcelona coach should have paid more attention to was substitution. The minute Barcelona were two goals down in that second leg he should have brought the other squad members in. We have already spoken about D. Suarez and Gomes up there, but the list is long. Vermaelen, Dembele and/or  Paulinho could also have come in to pick up some of the slack earlier on in the game. Unfortunately (or not, depending on your side of the fence), he was making substitutions with like 10 minutes to go. Honestly, how would that help anyone?

And this business of playing defense when you should be attacking, all in the hope of protecting a lead, is not working this time round especially when you are facing a team as hungry as Roma. Go out there and score goals before they even think of making a comeback.

However, the loss (and hopefully several future losses) is not entirely Valverde’s. The board of this team seems to also be full of it when it comes to making purchase decisions (Barca and Arsenal continue to have more in common as the years drag by). Fans have accused Bartomeu and his cohorts of selling their top talent (NEYMAR!!) and purchasing expensive individuals who have not been as productive as fans would have hoped in the domestic leagues.

Here, we are talking about Coutinho and Dembele, who together cost Barcelona more than 200 million euros, but presumably only have three goals between them (but then again, it is the coach whose refusing to rotate these players, although Dembele has suffered serious injury setbacks over the season)!

And let us not forget how old their midfield is, and this Iniesta is still keeping us in the dark about whether he is retiring or not. I think if he renews that contract, I will break something (I still have beef with him over his goal against Netherlands at that World Cup final btw).

Furthermore, Messi and L. Suarez are not getting any younger with both of them in their early 30s. I am sure they still have a lot of gas, but at that age and their level of competition, that gas runs out fast!

Anyway, I wish I could definitively claim that Barca’s glory days are over. But, that is not the case. All they need to do is improve on squad rotation, and avoid exhausting their players especially the older ones. Give Coutinho (and perhaps Dembele) more time away from Messi, and he will become a regular on the score sheet. They also need to utilize the other younger players during games to give them a more hands-on experience as well as allow them to create their own magic and learn through their own mistakes, the BARCA way!

(FYI: These youngsters played really well this weekend with most of the veteran players out and they won)

(I also wanted to say that I really miss Puyol)

Finished. Done. I’m satisfied now.

BAYERN’S DECISIVE LEFT-WING SAVES THE DAY!

Easter Monday football was awesome, but Tuesday was even better with Champions League action where we had Sevilla FC going head to head with Bayern Munich. Sevilla put up a spirited fight against Bayern Munich in their first leg of their quarter-final Champions League draw. I am a Bayern Munich fan, and I take every opportunity I get to watch them play (Germany is my favorite footballing nation as you might have gathered from this article that I wrote). However, we (glorious Bayern fans) did not expect the kind of zeal the underdogs were bringing into this match. Sevilla did not give Bayern much space to control the ball, which is usually the latter team’s modus operandi.

From the get-go, Sevilla were in control of the game much to my surprise. They had some really impressive counters, and their speed was incredible. Their performance in that first half was why they deserved to score the first goal. I almost bit my tongue when Sarabia struck a powerful ball with his left to open the scoreline for the visitors. He had had an obvious opportunity a few minutes earlier but he missed. Luckily, he redeemed himself with his second attempt at goal.

It felt like Sevilla wouldn’t stop coming against Bayern, and I was beginning to think Sevilla might take the match (much to my dismay). Those feelings quickly evaporated once James Rodriguez got into the mix. Vidal had to come out of the game due to an injury, and Rodriguez was his replacement. Minutes into James’ entry into the game, and Bayern’s attitude changed, I could feel it. And, clearly, they could feel it too, because immediately after he came in there was a Bayern goal. A long pass from Bayern’s left wing (Ribery?) deflected off Navas, and went into the net, and we (glorious Bayern fans) all breathed a sigh of relief.

That left wing for Bayern Munchen is the epicenter of their attack. It was quite clear that much of their shots towards goal came from here, especially when Rafinha came in for Bernat. Rafinha showed more confidence in feeding Ribery on the left-wing from the mid-field than his predecessor, Bernat.

Thiago’s goal, Bayern’s second for the night, was also as a result of a decisive long ball towards goal from the home team’s left wing. Thiago caught on to Ribery’s long ball and headed it in into the back of the net. There were suggestions (mainly from one of the commentators) that the goal was as a result of Thiago’s header deflecting from the visitors’ captain, and thus, it should be considered an own-goal (Sevilla’s second of the match). It seemed that everyone ignored this sentiment and Thiago was credited with the goal.

It almost became automatic that the left-wing was where the ball towards goal would come from for the home side. If only Sevilla had taken notice of this and covered Ribery more fiercely especially in the second half. If they could just intersect the passes from Rafinha towards Ribery, they would be able to build up stronger counter attacks that emanated deep within their own half. If only! (Luckily, they did not, otherwise, I would be a sorely disappointed but still glorious Bayern fan).

And Heynckes as well as his men need to know this kind of predictability can harm their attack in the upcoming games in the CL, especially if they beat Sevilla next week and progress in the tournament (be careful, guys!!!!).

Bayern won the match, but credit to Sevilla for putting their best foot forward, and performing much better than people (glorious Bayern fans) would have expected. There is really not much hope for Sevilla after this in the Champions League, but the tide could turn next week.

Let’s wait and see.

PS: If you missed my comments after the match, you can catch them on youtube here.

THAT LIVERPOOL PERFORMANCE WILL LEAVE YOU SECOND-GUESSING YOUR ALLEGIANCE

That Liverpool game was everything!! At first, I was not going to watch it. PSG vs Real Madrid was on at the same time, and this is the game that everyone was talking about. Ronaldo vs Neymar/Mbappe/Cavani, people, what could be more exciting than this tantalizing clash of the titans? Turns out, Liverpool vs FC Porto, baby!!

I watched the RealvsPSG match for the first 10-12 minutes, and I kid you not I was getting bored. Plus, I was not really feeling Cavani on that Wednesday night, I just did not like seeing him on the screen for no apparent reason. Then, a small voice inside me told me to switch to the Liverpool game for just a few minutes then come back to this ‘main event’, hopefully, more refreshed. That small voice was like a calling! People, I never went back to that PSG game, and I do not regret it for a second! Liverpool was on fire, and if I wasn’t such a staunch Arsenal supporter, they would have converted me.

I’m talking about moves that could give a girl straight orgasms; goals that could give a healthy 26-year-old, heart palpitations, a game that moved so fast, there was hardly any time to breathe or blink, an intense coach who hardly sat for the entire match (I love Klopp’s theatrics on the sideline, they are always entertaining), a defensive wonderkid who is delicious to watch (and he gets better every game), and a midfielder who, for the life of me, has not let age define him. Yes, that was what the Reds brought to Porto on Valentine’s day. That and much more!

Let me begin with James Milner, this midfielder who seemingly re-invents himself every season, nay, every match! Every time I see him play, I make fun of him for being too old to be on this particular team. I know that is kind of mean, but in football years, Milner is ancient! I first heard about him in 2010 when he was moving to Manchester City from Aston Villa where he had spent two years. Before that, I came to find out, he had been in Newcastle, preceded by a loan transfer to Aston Villa, which was after his first stay in Newcastle who had bought the then 18-year-old from Leeds United. In short, he’s been playing professional football since I was a pre-teen, and my head just cannot get around that!

But, here is the funny thing about Milner that leaves me in awe. He is doing what normal 32-year-old professional footballers cannot do. He’s changing roles on the field on a regular basis making him one of the most versatile footballers some of us have ever come across. Last season, he was playing in the left-back position; this season, he’s playing as a midfielder! How absolutely amazing is that?

Another fun fact, he currently holds the record for the most assists in this Champions League season. He set up two of the five goals scored by Liverpool on Wednesday taking him to the top of the assist table. Imagine, he’s ahead of players like Kevin De Bruyne! Wow.

That’s not all! Milner (alongside Henderson) clearly dominated that midfield and controlled that game. He showed so much tenacity and maturity that promulgated throughout the Liverpool team. Milner was not allowing any of his teammates to make mistakes, not on this day!

Milner was not the only one showing maturity on such a big stage on Wednesday. Mo Salah, the King of Egypt, demonstrated that exact sentiment throughout his game, and he was so impressive to watch. I find the way this man moves with the ball, dribbling across defenders, and linking the ball up with teammates, at times who are in his blind spots, so enticing. Like, I cannot resist him when he is on the field.

And did you see his goal? This was one of those orgasmic, heart palpitation causing moments I was talking about earlier. That goal wasn’t just magical, it was pure art! How can he have such composure to score a goal like that? To me, it’s just mind-blowing! Can Salah do anything wrong at this point? I doubt it!

Firmino was also on point in this game, and what a spectacular goal that was. I loved his celebration after he scored, it was so boyish (I also like his teeth, but this is a story for another place). And, I have to be honest. I fell in love with the Firmino-Salah combination in their match against Southampton last Sunday. They played off each other so well at the front during this game, and it was exciting to see them doing that again in the Porto game.

The duo seems to have so much chemistry, and so much fun playing together and scoring amazing goals. That is why it was so surprising to learn that they are not best friends. Guess who is Salah’s closest friend at Liverpool?

I’ll tell you. It’s the man who completely destroyed Porto on Wednesday. Sadio Mane, baby!! What a performance! What a way to seal the destiny for your team in the Champions League. Mane’s three goals against Porto is another testament of how mature, and composed these boys have become under Klopp, and how precise their game is. It also shows the breadth of talent within Liverpool, wow!

Of course, Mane’s performance on Valentine’s day was also testament to the player’s self-belief and self-awareness. Just a couple of weeks ago people were talking about how he sucked because his form had nose-dived a little. But, now look at him, scoring hat-tricks in one of the biggest competitions in the world! That is truly inspirational, and Liverpool is a wonderful team for giving him the space and the encouragement he needed to recover and reach these new heights.

So, yeah! I am basically in love with everything about Liverpool including their coach and their orange kits. It was the perfect match to watch on Valentine’s, and I hope performances such as those keep coming from Liverpool. (Don’t worry, I have not converted yet. Once a Gunner, always a Gunner, but a little flirting with a rival never hurt nobody).

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Have amazing, safe, and love-filled weekends, people!!

WILL TOTTENHAM EVER STOP SHOCKING ME?

Oh, my! Oh, my! Oh, my! Who saw Tottenham’s performance on Tuesday night coming? Who? Certainly not me! I spent an entire blog post belittling Spurs before their match against Arsenal last weekend, AND their Champions League match against Juventus this week (you can catch that post here). Little did I know how truly resilient Spurs can be.

I had to eat my own words after they completely outclassed Arsenal on Saturday, and now, I have to do the same thing again after their breathtaking performance on Tuesday night. Before this game, even before the week began, I was so sure that Spurs had no chance against the Italian side. On such a big stage? Pshhhh! There was no way they were going to hack it (I have to admit that some of the negativity stemmed from them beating us on Saturday). Boy, was I wrong! And, boy, was I glad to be so wrong.

For me, the match was not only entertaining, dramatic, and full-blown intellectual (the way Spurs was passing that ball was just incredible), it showed a different class to Tottenham. These boys are poised, organized, confident, mature even, and all this is evident in that amazing comeback from 2 goals down to a draw. This has not happened at the Juve Stadium since 2011, and for Tottenham (of all the teams) to be able to do that was just mind-blowing!

When Higuain scored the first goal (in the 2nd minute, mind you), I was like ‘Here comes the bloodbath!’, and then he scored the second goal, and for me, that game was over before Spurs could even blink. Two goals in less than 10 minutes of the first half of the first leg of the knockout stage of the Champions League, Tottenham was clearly way out of its depth here! To make it worse, they are the underdogs, they have less experience compared to Juventus across all competitions, Juventus have Buffon who is a matchmaker on his own, and Juve’s defense (BBC) was until most recently considered unbeatable, absolutely impenetrable! Talk about having all the odds stacked against Tottenham.

And yet, Spurs continued to play their hearts out. They kept attacking and they kept coming, and Juventus kept making mistakes. Higuain had two amazing opportunities to widen the score in the first half, one of them being a penalty that he missed right before halftime. Can you believe that? He and Mandzukic also missed seemingly straightforward goals in the early minutes of the second half. What were they thinking?

A special shout out to Kane for being so unafraid in front of goal. Did you see his goal? Did you see how he drew Buffon in, then darted from him, leaving the veteran goalkeeper completely floored, and then striking the ball into the net with his left foot? He did it so unassumingly, you wouldn’t believe that he had just done that to THE Gianluigi Buffon! I mean the cheek of it all!

That goal was special; that goal was the first goal that Juventus have conceded in 2018! That goal, along with the Eriksen one, could shove Buffon into retirement, people! There are already calls for the legendary goalkeeper to pack up his gloves and leave after his ‘not so good’ performance against Tottenham on Tuesday.

Personally, I do not think Buffon was solely to blame for the calamity that befell Juve this Tuesday. Tottenham ARE that good, and it was wrong for so many of us (I’m pointing at myself here) to under-estimate them!

And the beauty of this match was how every Tottenham player contributed immensely to that successful comeback. I’m talking about the likes of Dembele, who hands down, controlled that mid-field and single-handedly set the tempo for that entire game. He made incredible passes forward, he stole the ball, he dribbled, he tackled, he created chances, restarting lost ones, and he linked well with the others. He..was..UNSTOPPABLE!

Dele Alli was also quite impressive, mainly because he was absolutely instrumental in both goals. His possession was not as clear-cut as fans would have hoped, but, for me, he showed a bit more maturity than usual (in other words, I’m glad I’m not spending my post-Valentine’s day calling him out on his diving antics again).

The Spurs’ defense was a bit shaky from the start, but I liked how Sanchez continued to remain calm even with all the pressure. I feel like Tottenham fans are making too much unnecessary noise about Sanchez here. He’s been good so far, give the boy a chance (as I secretly hope he is your weak link and causes you to tumble out of the running for the top four spot in the EPL #COYG)!

One Tottenham player who will not be happy with his performance on Tuesday night is Serge Aurier. It was just a bad night for him, although, it is turning out to be a series of bad nights for him. Free loan transfer, anyone?

But that was a beautiful game, a wonderful show of sportsmanship, and I CANNOT WAIT for the return leg. It is going to be absolutely awesome, and I cannot believe that I am saying this, but I really hope Tottenham go through. Chances are they will, but this is football, and I know Juve will put up a strong fight! Good luck to both teams!!

What did you love about the TottenhamVsJuventus game? Leave your comments below and you can also follow me here, here, here, and here!