Many of us have been surrounded by the sight of rain and flooding the past couple of weeks and the usual escape for many of us is football, but this week has been a downpour of disappointment. Arsenal and Manchester City both lost to Bayern Munich and Barcelona with 10-men, and Tottenham losing 1-0 to Dnipro on Thursday night on a rather difficult pitch at the Dnipro Arena didn’t improve the mood. There was a slight lift with Swansea rising to the challenge at home to Napoli but they couldn’t capitalise on their dominance, with 6 shots on target to Napoli’s 1 with the game ending 0-0.
It looks like too much of a mountain to climb (or puddle to jump) for both clubs from the top of the Premier League as not only were they both 2-0 deficits but also those away goals are priceless in the knockout stages. Arsenal did win last year away and can take positives from that but Bayern even though playing against 10 men, were playing in 1st or second gear and could have given a lot more. Manchester City is a club still learning in the Champions league and as most great sides know, it’s these nights that build experience for the future. But for the second leg, it would have to be a very open game and take an off game from Messi for City to get back into it.
Tottenham on the other hand, did leave several players such as Dembele at home. The awful pitch didn’t help Tottenham’s play going forward, and at times their defending wasn’t much better as shown with Vertonghen challenge giving away the penalty, and could’ve given away more goals but lady luck was on their side. Soldado once more missed a golden opportunity for a priceless away goal by hitting a shot sky high from a couple of yards out after Paulinho crossed low across the box. I do feel Tottenham will be a different task for Dnipro in the second leg due to being at White Hart Lane.
Swansea had a much different game, full of positive, attacking play mostly coming from Hernandez especially in the first half in his new central role but no one could take advantage with chances going high or wide. Possibly if they can play a similar style away from home and take their chances when they come, the Swans could pull off a surprise win as they are still the newcomers in the competition.
There could be some sunshine on the horizon however as not only do we have the second legs of the Europa League, but also the other Champions League knockout ties are to be played with Manchester United away to Olympiakos on Tuesday and Chelsea are away in Turkey against Galatasaray on Wednesday.