If it wasn’t for their dominant Bundesliga from, Bayern Munich would also be part of this group, but as we discussed earlier, their performance against CSKA Moscow was more of a small, important step than a decisive turnaround.
The same can not be said for four other European titans who, entering today’s games without Bayern’s domestic success, used Europe competition to flash some of the potentials:
We discussed Manchester United in our game recap, but looking back on their season-to-date, their performance against Bayer stands as their most complete. Opening day at Swansea was a decent outing with a flattering scoreline (4-1). A draw to Chelsea and a loss to Liverpool reinforced the idea the team was performing below their potential. A comfortable win over a weak Crystal Palace did little to change that view. But with today’s romp past Leverkusen, the Red Devils hinted the marauding style we saw under Alex Ferguson is still in their DNA. This could be a confidence-builder.
Real Madrid was outplayed by Villarreal on Saturday, but in the second half in Istanbul, they found a rhythm that’s proved elusive thus far in Spain. Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo (three) and Karim Benzema (two) gave them their first blowout of the season (6-1), posted while playing in their most difficult environment yet. Galatasaray deserve blame for a good amount of that margin, but considering Real Madrid lost the last time they visited Türk Telekom Arena, this was a huge, surprising result.
For 45 minutes in Piraeus, Paris Saint Germain were decidedly second best, forcing you to wonder if Laurent Blanc’s conservative approach was again going to hamstring his talented team. To a certain extent, that’s happened in league, where two draws have kept the Parisians from keeping up with Monaco. In today’s second half, however, PSG exploded for three goals, more they’ve scored in any full game this season. Perhaps the performance will encourage Blanc to open things up.
Manchester City’s showing in Plzen may prove an actual breakthrough. The Sky Blues’ inability to get results in Champions League was developing a mental quality, part of the reason Manual Pellegrini emphasized the need to win today. At halftime, the game was still 0-0, but with three early second half goals, City may have shown themselves the explosiveness we sometimes see in England can be translated to the continent.
As interesting as these breakthroughs (or, perhaps as spurious) is how they came about. Each team exploded in the second half, as if they needed 45 minutes and a break’s contemplation before really loosening up. Of the quartet’s 17 goals, only two were scored before intermission, with the titans outscoring their opponents 15-2 in today’s second halves.
We know how they got here, but an interesting question is which moment will live in your memory when you’re reminded of Leicester’s run?
Game 5 — Dyer win Derby in stoppage
It had been a remarkable early season for Claudio Ranieri‘s troops when the Foxes came back from a 2-0 deficit against Midlands rivals Aston Villa, and substitute Nathan Dyer capped off the 3-2 win in style.
Game 14 — Vardy sets a Premier League record
Ruud van Nistelrooy taking a backseat to Jamie Vardy was unfathomable even a month beforehand, but Vardy’s goal gave him a Premier League record 11-straight matches with a goal (and all in one season). Not bad for the man deemed too old by a 2.Bundesliga team.
Game 25 — Blowout at the Etihad
Certainly many had this date circled as the beginning of a downturn for Leicester, but Riyad Mahrez dazzled while Robert Huth scored a pair of goals in a 3-1 ride past Manchester City on the road. It was on.
Game 27 — Ulloa starts earthquakes
Leicester looked destined to somehow find a draw from a dominant performance when Leonardo Ulloa lifted the Foxes to a late win over Norwich, causing mini earthquakes at the King Power Stadium.
Game 34 — Chaos at King Power
A game easily categorized in short, insane outbursts, or just the name Jon Moss
Vardy sent off for diving ?!? Penalty to West Ham for what?!? Penalty to Leicester for what?!?
LONDON (AP) The English Football Association has charged Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini and Leicester defender Robert Huth with violent conduct after they clashed during a Premier League game at the weekend.
Fellaini reacted to getting his hair pulled by Huth by appearing to strike the defender with his elbow as they jostled at a set-piece during the 1-1 draw between the teams on Sunday.
“We want to continue to build,” he told SSN HQ’s Rob Dorsett. “When I came here, the project was to build a very good foundation and slowly, slowly to grow up together in three to four years to fight for the Europa League and slowly come to fight for the Champions League.
“Now the season is out of our project but of course, the foundation is very solid. We know very well we have to fight for the position but we want to do our best. I’m positive and I want to fight.”
You’ll probably say he’s continuing a pattern of being sly — lowering sunglasses — like a fox, as Ranieri started 2015-16 wanting 40 points, then the Top Four, before finally admitting the title was an option.
You think he’s going to claim he’ll repeat? You can cue The Who, because Claudio… we won’t get fooled again.