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Where They Stand: Groups E through H after two rounds of UEFA Champions League

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In a competition where early progress is measured by snaring or avoiding unexpected results, it’s easy to pick out the day’s big winners: See which teams won on the road. It all extends from the idea that if you take care of business at home, scrape together a few points away, you’re likely through to the second round.

But that doesn’t mean all road wins are created equal. When Chelsea’s routing Steaua and Barcelona’s squeaking by Celtic, they’re snaring points other teams in their groups could claim. Schalke’s result at Basel? That one’s more meaningful, as those two clubs are likely to compete for second place in Group E.

And Atlético Madrid’s 2-1 win at FC Porto? That was the day’s most important result. Atleti took four points from the most-difficult fixture on their group stage slate, firmly grasping control of their Group G destiny.

At the other end of the spectrum, Napoli’s may have had the day’s most disappointing performance, with a previously unbeaten Partenopei providing little resistance in North London, but the most influential outcome happened in Basel. Yes, Porto suffered a huge loss, but they still have a viable rout to the knockout round (second place can be a beautiful thing). For Basel, however, a home loss to the team they’re likely to battle for second in their group practically gives back the points they took at Stamford Bridge.

[MORE: Champions League Tuesday Roundup: Atlético, Arsenal thrive, Chelsea rebound.]

Here’s where Groups E through H stand after Tuesday’s Champions League action:

* – To each of these standings we’ve added a column labeled +/-: a crude attempt to track how many points a team has dropped at home (minus) or picked up on the road (plus). It’s a very crude attempt to gauge the extent to which teams are holding serve.

Group E
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS +/-*
FC Schalke 04 2 2 0 0 4 0 4 1-0-0 1-0-0 6 +3
Chelsea 2 1 0 1 5 2 3 0-0-1 1-0-0 3 +0
Basel 2 1 0 1 2 2 0 0-0-1 1-0-0 3 +0
Steaua Bucharest 2 0 0 2 0 7 -7 0-0-1 0-0-1 0 -3

The long-term effect of Schalke’s win, if you assume Chelsea will take points from the Miners and Basel over the next three rounds, sees the Swiss champions needing to win in Gelsenkirchen on the last day of group play. Schalke’s going to take points in Romania, maybe one or three against Chelsea, while Basel’s should take advantage of their home-and-home withe Romanian champions to make up group. Sure, upsets can happen, but this is what the cards say right now.

Given Basel’s already won in London, winning in Gelsenkirchen certainly possible, but when it comes Schalke, who knows what kind of team Jens Keller will have come December 11. If evil Schalke show, Basel could go through. If good Schalke stays, they’ll certainly be capable of claiming the draw they’ll need to get through.

The other factor to consider after Tuesday’s action: The unexpected weakness of Steaua. They were safe bets to finish bottom of this group when it was drawn, but with minus-seven goal difference after two games, they’ve have been unexpectedly poor. How many points Schalke and Basel drop to Steaua could also end up deciding who goes through.

[MORE: Full-time snapshot: Chelsea’s first Mourinho-esque performance; Barcelona ball hogs.]

Group F
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS +/-*
Arsenal 2 2 0 0 4 1 3 1-0-0 1-0-0 6 +3
Borussia Dortmund 2 1 0 1 4 2 2 1-0-0 0-0-1 3 +0
Napoli 2 1 0 1 2 3 -1 1-0-0 0-0-1 3 +0
Marseille 2 0 0 2 1 5 -4 0-0-1 0-0-1 0 -3

Tuesday’s was a big win for the Gunners, but ultimately, they merely held serve. They should take a lot of confidence from the match, and Napoli should wonder why they were so much worse than their hosts, but in terms of group dynamics, Arsenal’s 2-0 win doesn’t change much.

Nor does Borussia Dortmund’s 3-0 win over Marseille, another example of the home team holding serve. But as is the case with Steaua in Group E, Marseille’s developed into the team from which you must take full points. Drawing or losing to l’OM, even on the road, could find you in Europa League, particularly considering Arsenal’s already claimed full points at Stade Velodrome.

[MORE: Dominance then control see Arsenal cruise past Napoli.]

Group G
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS +/-*
Atlético Madrid 2 2 0 0 5 2 3 1-0-0 1-0-0 6 +3
Porto 2 1 0 1 2 2 0 0-0-1 1-0-0 3 +0
Austria Wien 2 0 1 1 0 1 -1 0-0-1 0-1-0 1 -2
Zenit St. Petersburg 2 0 1 1 1 3 -2 0-1-0 0-0-1 1 -2

Porto was this group’s “seeded” team (drawn from the first pot), but with Tuesday’s win, Atlético has established itself as the clear favorites. Claiming three points from their toughest group game, the Colchoneros are in the best position possible after two rounds. The only way their state could be better is if Porto had drawn in round one, something that was out of their control.

From Porto’s point of view, Atlético’s rise makes today’s loss easier to take. Having already claimed road points, the Dragons can look at Zenit’s home draw and still consider themselves ahead of the game. If they hold serve at home against Zenit and Austria Wien, they may not need a result in Madrid or St. Petersburg to reach the Round of 16.

As for Zenit, one of the teams that was expected to compete for the knockout round, today’s result was a huge setback. It was the easiest match on their schedule, and they dropped points, meaning they’ll likely need to make them up at the Dragão or when Atlético visits if they’re to avoid Europa League.

Group H
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS +/-*
Barcelona 2 2 0 0 5 0 5 1-0-0 1-0-0 6 +3
Milan 2 1 1 0 3 1 2 1-0-0 0-1-0 4 +1
Ajax 2 0 1 1 1 5 -4 0-1-0 0-0-1 1 -2
Celtic 2 0 0 2 0 3 -3 0-0-1 0-0-1 0 -3

Milan has not looked good, but thanks to their late match dramatics, they’re still ahead of the game. Particularly given a home-and-home with Barcelona on the horizon, keeping Ajax from getting full points was huge. Had Ajax held their 1-0 lead then taken four or six points from Celtic over the next two rounds, Milan might need help to get back to the knockout round.

Now, thanks to that point, one of Ajax or Celtic will likely need to sweep their home-and-home to put a scare into the Italians. Without that, the worst Milan can be after round four will be one point behind Ajax (if Ajax earn four points). Should Milan beat the Dutch champions in round six, they’d make up that ground.

UEFA Champions League full-time snapshot: Chelsea’s first Mourinho-esque night, Barça keeps 82 percent possession

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It’s been a while since fans of English soccer were able to read this: It was a big day in Champions League for the Premier League. The circuit that’s seen their clubs struggle in recent tournaments posted a combined 6-0 in their two Tuesday matches, with Chelsea rebounding from opening round embarrassment while Arsenal posted one of the most impressive results of the young tournament.

[MORE: Dominance then control see Arsenal down Napoli, 2-0.]

We talked about Arsenal in a previous post, but for Chelsea, this was the first truly Mourinho-esque performance since their former boss returned this summer. On the road against an inferior opponent, Chelsea dominating from the beginning, the benefits of which truly emerged near the half-hour mark, after Ramires had already put them up one. Spending much of the half ripping apart Steaua’s right side, Chelsea doubled their lead just before intermission through a Daniel Georgievski own goal. Ramires and a Frank Lampard special in the second half gave the Blues a 4-0 win.

Borussia Dortmund were also on the right side of a route, downing Marseille 3-0, with Atlético Madrid putting up the day’s other impressive result, coming back from an early Jackson Martínez goal to post the first Champions League road win at Porto since 2009.  Diego Godín and Arda Turan goals kept the Colchoneros unbeaten on the year, earning Diego Simeone’s side a 2-1 win at the Dragão.

In the day’s other games, Barcelona and Schalke got road wins while Austria Wien and AC Milan earned valuable road draws. Barcelona’s result was noteworthy not only for its close nature, a Cesc Fabregas second half goal against 10 men the game’s only score, but also for the lopsided possession number: 82-18 in Barça’s favor.

Here are all the numbers, courtesy Opta and WhoScored.com:

Group Home-Road Score Shots Shots
on Goal
Possession
E Steaua Bucharest-Chelsea 0-4
10-21 3-9
43-57
E Basel-Schalke 0-1 9-8 1-1 56-44
F Arsenal-Napoli 2-0 9-13 4-1 63-37
F Borussia Dortmund-Marseille 3-0 19-7 11-2 43-57
G Zenit St. Petersburg-Austria Wein [FINAL] 0-0 19-18 4-5 57-43
G Porto-Atlético Madrid 1-2 14-11 4-4 59-41
H Celtic-Barcelona 0-1 5-13 2-5 18-82
H Ajax-Milan 1-1 10-7 6-5 59-41

UEFA Champions League, Full-time Snapshot: The numbers after 90 minutes

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We tried something new at halftime today, giving you a quick, raw rundown of some key indicators for each of the day’s eight Champions League matches. We all know statistics can be mislead when used incorrectly, so given they were only racked up over 45 minutes of play, there was nothing to get too analytical about. Still, it’s always interesting to see which teams are piling up big edges in shots, possession, and other broad-stroke figures.

To redress the situation, here’s how all those numbers stood at full time:

Group Home-Road Score Shots Shots
on Goal
Possession
E Schalke-Steaua Bucharest 3-0 13-11 6-3 59-41
E Chelsea-Basel 1-2 12-6 4-3 57-43
F Napoli-Borussia Dortmund 2-1 15-17 7-6 59-41
F Marseille-Arsenal 1-2 17-9 7-5 49-51
G Atlético Madrid-Zenit St. Petersburg 3-1 18-10 6-3 46-54
G Austria Wein-Porto 0-1 13-10 2-2 33-67
H Milan-Celtic 2-0 22-12 7-1 56-44
H Barcelona-Ajax 4-0 16-9 7-7 57-43

All stats are from Opta.

Six of the teams that won the possession battle also won their game. The team with the most shots won four times. In the six games where somebody had an edge in shots on goal, the team with the most shots won four.

Compared the the numbers below, you see the biggest changes happened in the score. Some exceptions: Napoli’s possession number skyrocketed in the second half, to be expected playing up a man; both shots and shots on goal exploded in the second half at the Nou Camp, even more than you’d normally see in a second half; Milan turned a slight possession deficit into a positive figure as they pushed for their winning goal.

Here’s how the numbers looked after 45 minutes of play.

 

Group Home-Road Score Shots Shots
on Goal
Possession
E Schalke-Steaua Bucharest 0-0 6-6 2-2 59-41
E Chelsea-Basel 0-0 4-2 1-1 59-41
F Napoli-Borussia Dortmund 1-0 5-7 2-2 51-49
F Marseille-Arsenal 0-0 7-3 2-1 48-52
G Atlético Madrid-Zenit St. Petersburg 1-0 9-2 3-0 50-50
G Austria Wein-Porto 0-0 9-4 1-1 34-66
H Milan-Celtic 0-0 11-4 5-0 49-51
H Barcelona-Ajax 1-0 3-0 2-0 60-40

Dinamo Bucharest unleashes insane tifo ahead of derby with Steaua

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Dinamo and Steaua, two of Romania’s biggest clubs, faced off in their country’s biggest derby on Sunday, with two first half goals allowing Steaua to claim a 2-1, Eternal Derby victory. As you’d expect from a game between teams that’ve claimed 42 league titles, the match packed Bucharest’s national stadium, had a reportedly intense atmosphere, and included number of obligatory “altercations” in the stands. It all sounded very rivalry-y.

Beyond Romania’s borders, the lasting image from this match will be one from before the opening whistle, with Dinamo’s fans marking the occasion with this tifo, tweeted out earlier today by @Gibbe84 on Twitter:

source:

The two players are Cătălin Hîldan and Florea Dumitrache (see first comment, below). Hîldan spent seven years with the club before dying or cardia arrest during a friendly in Oct. 2000. He was only 24 years old. Dumitrache is a former Romanian international who spend 12 years with the club from the mid-60s to mid-70s, scoring 108 goals in league play. He passed away in April 2007.

Intriguingly, there’s a three-dimensional effect the transparent players a provide. Hanging above the fan-held placards that create the field, the two player-angels hover as if their visages are protecting Dinamo’s current team. The whole thing certainly speaks to the supporters’ views of legacy and immortality.

Here in North America, we have a number of fan groups producing amazing displays. In the Pacific Northwest, Portland and Seattle fans are setting Major League Soccer’s standard. This, however, gives those supporters groups another standard. Dinamo’s tifo was amazing.