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What we learned on Wednesday ...
by Paul Kennedy, October 22nd, 2009 7:01AM



[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] First, Barcelona. Now, Real Madrid. For the second day in a row, a Spanish giant fell at home. This time, AC Milan put aside its troubled start to the 2009-10 season and beat Real Madrid, 3-2, at the Bernabeu Stadium. Manchester United has found a new rising star in Ecuadoran Antonio Valencia, while Bayern Munich's problems continued with an ugly performance in France. Here are things we learned on Wednesday ...

Real Madrid has its work cut out if it wants to win a 10th European Cup.

AC Milan exposed Real Madrid's defensive frailties, shocking the Merengues with a 3-2 victory at the Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday night. Real is going to score a ton of goals, but it will also struggle shut down high-powered attacks, like it has in its two losses -- to Sevilla in La Liga and now Milan.

Andrea Pirlo scored on a curling 30-yard shot, fooling Iker Casillas to the near post, in the 62nd minute, and young Brazilian Pato Alexandre beat Casillas twice. "Until they tied it 1-1, we played a good game, we were in control," Real coach Manuel Pellegrini said. "We then got disorganized, and Milan took advantage to win the game." The new Galacticos' problems are reminiscent of those of the original Galacticos.

Antonio Valencia's form confirms Sir Alex Ferguson's knack for discovering talent.

Manchester United improved to 3-0-0 with a 1-0 win at CSKA Moscow in its return to Luzhniki Stadium, where it won the 2008 Champions League. United was without Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs, but it was in command on the artificial surface.The hero was Antonio Valencia, a summer acquisition from Wigan. The Ecuadoran scored the winning goal minutes after he hit the woodwork.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is thrilled with his new winger. "Valencia has been a plus point for the last few weeks. He is emerging very well, settling into the club and his confidence is getting stronger. He has tremendous assets for a wide player, but the assets he didn't show at Wigan were his goals, where he would maybe get three or four a season. This was his challenge when he signed for us. Two in two games will help him."

Louis van Gaal may not last longer at Bayern Munich than Juergen Klinsmann did last season.

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal was considered the anti-Klinsmann, the opposite of Juergen Klinsmann, and expected to bring some order to a Bayern team that struggled last season. But as it showed in its 2-1 loss to Bordeaux on Wednesday, Bayern's problems continue. Bordeaux would have won by a bigger margin but it missed two penalties.

"The defeat has really angered me," said van Gaal. "After the early goal, we made too many poor passes. We were better in the second half with 10 men than we were in the first half with 11." Problem was, Bayern finished the game with nine players. Daniel Van Buyten joined Thomas Muller in the showers late in the game. Bayern is third in Group A behind Bordeaux and Juventus and is sixth in the Bundesliga.

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