Teamwork makes the dream work

Barcelona bother, Brugge success, targets

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Matchday 3 of the Champions League group stage is wrapped up, offering followers with lots to speak about and extra to stay up for. After an thrilling third spherical of video games, we requested our writers Sam Marsden, Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens to reply a few of our burning questions.

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What caught your consideration from Matchday 3?

Marcotti: Napoli hammering Ajax 6-1 away and the opposite group few anticipated to be excellent at this stage: Membership Brugge, who’ve but to concede a single aim (take a bow, Simon Mignolet.) Manchester Metropolis’s Erling Haaland persevering with to attain is not actually information, is it?

Laurens: What caught my eye is that we solely noticed two away wins this week within the Champions League, however they had been unimaginable. First, the demonstration by Napoli at Ajax and the humiliating end result. Aside from Manchester Metropolis, no group are taking part in higher soccer than Luciano Spalletti’s males proper now. The second is Borussia Dortmund at Sevilla (4-1), the place 19-year-old midfielder Jude Bellingham was excellent as soon as once more with a particular aim whereas carrying the captain’s armband. Sevilla boss Julien Lopetegui knew earlier than kick off that he was going to be sacked and that Jorge Sampaoli would exchange him, but he nonetheless took cost of the group for what was a dreadful send-off.

Marsden: The surreal scenes in Sevilla — the place Lopetegui took cost of the defeat to Dortmund regardless of understanding he was set to be sacked after the sport — and Membership Brugge, particularly their striker Ferran Jutgla. The Belgian facet have 9 factors from 9 following a 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid. Jutgla, a summer season signing from Barcelona‘s B group, scored one and made one other, doubling his aim and help tally on this season’s competitors. Simply 4 years in the past he was taking part in in opposition to Atletico Madrid within the Copa del Rey for Sant Andreu, who play within the regionalised fifth division of Spanish soccer. On Tuesday, he plunged Atleti into actual hazard of an early Champions League exit.

Can Barcelona flip issues round?

Marcotti: In fact they will. They weren’t nice within the 1-0 defeat in opposition to Inter Milan and managed simply two photographs on aim, however they had been unfortunate with the officiating. And so they have two of the final three group video games at house. However I believe they need to beat Inter at Camp Nou, since you do not need to go into the final recreation not controlling your future, particularly as — you assume — Bayern Munich will have already got certified after they host Inter.

O’Hanlon: Rating each Champions League group this season (E+)

Laurens: Tuesday was so disappointing from Barcelona, from a end result viewpoint and a efficiency too, that they will solely do higher at house subsequent week. We’ll see a really totally different Barca, one that does not simply cross the ball with no function, one which will get striker Robert Lewandowski extra concerned. Will it’s sufficient, particularly contemplating all of the accidents on the again? Perhaps not. However no less than, you count on Xavi and his gamers to present themselves an opportunity of beating Inter … which they did not do on Tuesday.

Marsden: Barca have proven sufficient in defeats to Bayern and Inter to recommend they will. They’re a really totally different facet to the one which exited the Champions League on the group stage final season. Mounting damage issues, particularly in defence, may but derail them, however I nonetheless make them favourites to get out of the group with Bayern. They key recreation is Wednesday’s match in opposition to Inter at Camp Nou. Win that and they are going to be again within the driving seat to complete second, though it may come right down to a tiebreaker.

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Pep Guardiola says Erling Haaland’s winner vs. Borussia Dortmund was as a mixture between Johan Cruyff and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

What’s your favourite aim from the group stage to this point?

Marcotti: Oleksandr Zubkov‘s volley for Shakhtar Donetsk in opposition to Actual Madrid. It was a really properly taken strike and an excellent aim. Was it the very best aim of the match and even the evening? No. However it provides me an excuse to say Zubkov and Shakhtar. Here is a man who got here by the ranks at Shakhtar, who is definitely from Donetsk, who made his debut in a stadium that hosted video games at Euro 2012 and is now a pile of rubble as a result of battle in Ukraine. This can be a man who left Shakhtar to play for Mariupol, which was flattened within the battle. After which he moved to Ferencvaros, in Hungary, performed there, settled there and when the battle got here and there was an exodus of gamers away from Shakhtar, he selected to return and play for his boyhood membership. I do know many have “battle fatigue” — imagine me, it’s miles worse for Ukrainians — however the story must be advised.

Laurens: I’ll decide Karim Adeyemi‘s aim for Borussia Dortmund at Sevilla. Not for the aim itself, as a result of it is a faucet in, however for the unimaginable involvement of Youssoufa Moukoko simply earlier than. His first-touch backward sombrero flick is simply probably the most elegant factor you will notice this week. He deserved to attain (his shot was parried by Yassine Bounou on Karim Adeyemi) only for the magnificent contact that led to the aim!

Marsden: It’s exhausting to select one from Wednesday’s video games, not to mention the group stage to this point. Bellingham and Lionel Messi‘s efforts come to thoughts instantly, together with targets from Kylian Mbappe and Alejandro Grimaldo earlier in earlier weeks. However I’ll go along with the person of the second: Haaland. The Manchester Metropolis striker’s aim in opposition to Dortmund was not probably the most aesthetically pleasing, however it ticked so many different bins: a late winner in a good recreation, a aim in opposition to his former facet, an unimaginable help from Joao Cancelo; and Haaland contorting his physique into an nearly unimaginable place for somebody with a 6-foot-4 body to permit him karate kick the ball into the again of the online.

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