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Bayern Munich sits second in Group D of this season’s UEFA Champions League after losing its toughest match of the bunch: a trip to the Vicente Calderon.
Atletico Madrid won 1-0 when Antoine Griezmann linked up with Yannick Carrasco for a first half goal and Diego Simeone’s stubborn defense lived up to its reputation in blanking the Bavarians.
[ MORE: Champions League roundup ]
Manager Carlo Ancelotti has been frustrated by Simeone in the past, perhaps most notably in his brief stint at Real Madrid. But the Bayern boss says the loss was down to speed.
“We tried to get back into the game but we played too slowly, which is why we did not have many chances to equalize,” Ancelotti said. “It’s never nice to lose.”
Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer also acknowledged a lack of speed in a way, pointing at urgency when he said, “Atlético showed a killer instinct tonight and we didn’t.”
Bayern hosts PSV Eindhoven in its next UCL match on Oct. 19.
What a match in Glasgow.
The UEFA Champions League group stage returned to Celtic Park on Wednesday, where the hosts thrilled their crowd by taking a trio of leads before settling for a 3-3 draw with mighty Manchester City.
[ MORE: JPW on Walcott’s Arsenal heroics ]
The draw is the first competitive game City hasn’t won under Pep Guardiola, but the manager didn’t feel much like complaining after his team rallied.
Guardiola: “It was difficult for us. I’m happy with the reaction from the players, it’s not easy to score three goals away.
“I don’t know how many the chances they had after the third goal. We should have won it.”
As for Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers, he was tickled. After all, Celtic had fallen 7-0 to Barcelona at the Camp Nou during their first outing.
Rodgers: “We were brilliant, the pressing and the energy. Every time we went forward we looked like we could score.
“Apart from the Barcelona game these players have been operating at a high level this season. Now, to do it against that team, it was a magnificent performance.”
Celtic Park was loud on Wednesday, and both sides gave the crowd plenty of oohs and aahs. It’s hard to imagine Celtic could do the same again, and City did give away a pair of goals (one own goal from Raheem Sterling, one gaffe from Aleksandar Kolarov).
But for one afternoon, who cares about anything other than an entertaining 90 minutes?
Theo Walcott scored both of Arsenal’s goals in their 2-0 win over FC Basel in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday and the English winger is back to his best.
[ RECAP: Arsenal destroy Basel ]
Walcott, 27, is in fine form with four goals in his last three games as Arsenal have won four straight in all competitions.
Against Basel he simply ripped their defense apart in the first half, cutting in from the right wing to combine with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil and wreck havoc.
What has been the big change in Theo’s game this season?
“I believe the change in Theo Walcott is his attitude this season,” Wenger told ProSoccerTalk. “He is ready to fight, commit and you know straight away he gets the crowd behind him. Theo Walcott of that stature is a completely different player.”
That is what we are seeing this season as Walcott spoke before the game against Basel about focusing more on himself and finally giving up on trying to be a central striker.
He looks sharp, focused and angrier (especially when tracking back defensively, something the fans are loving) than he has been in recent years and Wenger will be hoping Walcott stays clear of the horrendous injuries which have peppered his 10-year career at Arsenal.
Sometimes we forget just how long Walcott has been around.
When you look at the stat above, it hits home that he’s no longer a youngster we are waiting to explode into life. It is time Walcott started to deliver and seems like the penny has dropped somewhere along the line and he has gone back to basics. With his pace and power, when he’s on it there’s few defenders who can slow him down.
Now, the only thing Wenger and Arsenal’s fans will be hoping for is that Walcott can stay injury free and finally fulfill the massive potential many have always believed that he had.
Right now, Walcott is rampant for the red-hot Gunners.
Oh, there were goals to be had in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, where Arsenal, Napoli, and PSG cruised to multi-goal wins while other powers had tougher times.
[ MORE: Champions League standings ]
Manchester City needed to battle for its point at Celtic, while Barcelona came back to topple Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany. And Bayern Munich, well, they found it just as tough to score vs. Atletico Madrid as it did in last year’s semifinal.
Celtic 3-3 Manchester City — RECAP
The Scots opened up a pair of leads through Moussa Dembele‘s third-minute redirection of a Erik Sviatchenko attempt and a Raheem Sterling own goal, but Fernandinho pulled one back for City and Sterling made amends with a goal of his own to level things at half of a thriller at Celtic Park.
Dembele added a second shortly after halftime to put the hosts back on top, and Craig Gordon made a pair of fine saves to keep Celtic’s lead. That’s when Nolito found a loose ball.
Arsenal 2-0 Basel — RECAP
Napoli 4-2 Benfica
Marik Hamsik scores a first goal for the the Italians, and Dries Mertens gave Napoli insurance with a pair of second half goals and Arkadiusz Milik converted a penalty in between. Young Gonçalo Guedes and Eduardo Salvio scored for Benfica late.
Borussia Monchengladbach 1-2 Barcelona
The middle Hazard brother, Thorgan, staked the German hosts to a 1-0 lead over Lionel Messi-less Barcelona with his 34th minute tally.
Arda Turan took advantage of hesitant goalkeeping from Yann Sommer and a chipped pass from Neymar to tie the match in the 65th minute. Sommer then left a Luis Suarez shot on the foot of Gerard Pique, and the big Barca defender scored to make it 2-1.
Napoli 4-0 Benfica
Marik Hamsik scores a first goal for the the Italians, and Dries Mertens gave Napoli insurance with a pair of second half goals and Arkadiusz Milik converted a penalty in between.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayern Munich
Yannick Carrasco has the hosts up at the Vicente Calderon, on a nice shot to boot. Antoine Griezmann had the assist, and Atleti recorded more shots than the visitors despite a massive possession advantage for Bayern. The Bavarians also came close to doubling the amount of passes completed by Diego Simeone’s men, but goals are what matter here and Atleti has claimed the rematch of last year’s semifinal. Griezmann missed a late penalty for the hosts.
Ludogorets Razgrad 1-3 Paris Saint-Germain
Blaise Matuidi nabbed an equalizer after the Bulgarians surprised PSG with a Natanael goal in the 16th minute. Edinson Cavani scored twice after halftime to put the French powers in a favorable position.
Besiktas 1-1 Dynamo Kyiv
Portugal’s Ricardo Quaresma gave the hosts a first half lead, but 18-year-old Viktor Tsygankov played hero for the visitors when he scored in the second half.
FC Rostov 2-2 PSV Eindhoven
This was another first half thriller, with Dmitri Poloz netting twice for the hosts. Davy Propper scored the first equalizer, while Luuk De Jong made it 2-2 at the break.