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Three things we learned on Tuesday ...
by Paul Kennedy, September 13th, 2011 11:48PM

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TAGS:  barcelona, england, uefa champions league

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[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Barcelona isn't invincible. Like it did on Saturday in La Liga, the reigning UEFA Champions League champion had to settle for a 2-2 tie, at home this time, with AC Milan in Tuesday. Here's three things we learned Tuesday ...

Barcelona isn't invincible. Like it did on Saturday in La Liga against Real Sociedad, the reigning UEFA Champions League champion had to settle for a 2-2 tie, at home this time, with AC Milan in Tuesday.

Milan struck early -- Pato Alexandre scored the fifth fastest Champions League goal ever, putting the ball through goalie Victor Valdes' legs after only 24 seconds -- and late -- Thiago Silva outjumped Sergio Busquets to Clarence Seedorf's corner kick in the 92nd minute. In between, Barca dominated, getting goals from Pedro and David Villa (on a 30-yard free kick).

Barca's problems stemmed in part from the absence of central defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique. Coach Pep Guardiola's verdict: "We did all we were supposed to do but we are still left with this bitter taste. We can admit that defensively we were not adequate. But I insist that we played a match that was more than adequate."

Fernando Torres escaped doghouse. With one goal in 22 games since joining Chelsea, Spanish striker Fernando Torres wasn't in any position to be criticizing his teammates, but remarks suggesting his "older" teammates had been "very slow" in their approach play allegedly made in an interview with the Spanish league's website could have landed him in the doghouse at Stamford Bridge.

But as far as Andre Villas-Boas is concerned, the matter is closed, especially after Torres put in what the Chelsea manager termed "a good performance" in the Blues' opener, helping set up both goals in the 2-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen.

"We had a chat and the situation is solved," said Villas-Boas. "You saw a player very involved, who put in a good performance, like the team. Hopefully, these things won't arise in the group again. If they do, I, as manager, will resolve them."

APOEL will be spoiler. The lowdown on Group G was it would be a tight three-team race between Porto, Zenit St. Petersburg and Shakhtar Donetsk with the odd team out the one that dropped points in Nicosia against lowly APOEL.

Well, things don't look good for Zenit as second-half goals from Brazilians Gustavo Manduca and Ailton gave APOEL a 2-1 win over the Russian club, the first ever by the Cypriot club in the Champions League group stage.

Zenit had a chance to escape with one point, but Viktor Fayzulin's close-range shot in the 87th bounced off the post and rolled into the arms of goalie Dionisis Chiotis.

Group E
Chelsea 2 Bayer Leverkusen 0
Scorers: David Luiz 67, Juan Mata 90+3.
Genk 0 Valencia 0

Group F
Olympiakos 0 Marseille 1
Scorer: Lucho Gonzalez 51.
Borussia Dortmund 1 Arsenal 1
Scorers: Ivan Perisic 88; Robin van Persie 42.

Group G
APOEL 2 Zenit St Petersburg 1
Scorers: Gustavo Manduca 73, Ailton 75; Konstantin Zyryanov 63.
Porto 2 Shakhtar Donetsk 1
Scorers: Hulk 28, Kleber 51; Luiz Adriano 12

Group H
Viktoria Plzen 1 BATE Borisov 1
Scorers: Renan Bressan 69; Marek Bakos 45.
Barcelona 2 AC Milan 2
Scorers: Pedro 36, David Villa 50; Alexandre Pato 1, Thiago Silva 90+2.



0 comments
  1. Andres Yturralde
    commented on: September 14, 2011 at 9:12 a.m.
    I didn't catch the game against Real Sociedad this past weekend, but I did catch most of the game against Milan. Seems to me the issue is Barcelona's offense, not its defense. Too many lateral passes every time they get close to the box-- too much ball-sharing. As if no one,(except Messi), wants to take charge and risk a little. David Villa and Pedro certainly didn't do it, and Afellay came in and didn't do it either. Iniesta's injury early in the game hurt the team, no doubt about it. And no question they're missing Alexis Sanchez, who has the uncanny ability to drive to the line and create gaps.

  1. Tyler Dennis
    commented on: September 14, 2011 at 12:57 p.m.
    I disagree with you Andres. Their ability to hold posession around the box allows them to open up opportunities through their off the ball runs. The goals were a set piece yesterday and a brilliant through pass through two flat defenders at the center circle. What you are asking is that Barcelona play more like Chelsea did yesterday, which is a team that goes forward when they should hold possession to a fault. They did win, but they win with what I call the sledgehammer approach... keep ramming it forward until we get it in.


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