Category: Archive

Celtic, Arsenal must bounce back quickly in CL

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Manchester United, Chelsea and Rangers have all gotten the perfect winning start, whereas both Celtic and Arsenal were beaten.
In Group A, Bayern Munich shocked Celtic with a 2-1 defeat after the Hoops had taken a 1-0 lead though Alan Thompson in the 56th minute. Bayern’s Roy Makaay caught the Bhoys on the hop with a double in the 73rd and 86th minutes. A tough lesson it was for Celtic and Martin O’Neill, who said his dressing room was like a morgue after the game.
Coming away from Munich with nothing was a huge disappointment for Northern Ireland native O’Neill and his Bhoys.
“In the end we didn’t get anything, it was a great, great effort, we were disciplined, scored a goal, and controlled the game,” O’Neill said. “We now have five games to turn it around”
O’Neill went on to say it was a “body blow” and saw the result as “dropping three points.” While O’Neill stated his side would bounce back the Glasgow outfit received its first lesson — “It doesn’t matter how well you play in the Champions League; it’s all about results.”
However, Bayern’s manager Ottmar Hitzfeld saw Thompson’s goal as a wake-up call and believed that from there on in his team had the momentum and pressured Celtic down the wings.
While indeed it’s early days, the Bhoys will have to beat Lyon at Celtic Park on Sept. 30 to keep their CL hopes alive. Lyon are in second place after a 1-0 win over Anderlecht with Pernambucano Juninho scoring a penalty in the 25th minute. Group A prediction: Bayern to go through with Lyon, Celtic and Anderlecht scrapping for second place. Hoops fans should be reminded that Thompson’s goal could make a difference when it comes to the crunch time.
In Group B, football fans were surprised when Inter Milan trounced Arsenal 3-0 at Highbury Road, sending the Gunners crashing down to the bottom of the table. On paper it’s expected that Inter and Arsenal will overcome Dynamo Kiev and Lokomotiv Moscow to make the next phase of the CL. At the same time, Arsenal’s history in Europe does live up to this defeat. The Gunners are forever struggling on the continent and their defense is very suspect when it comes to the pace and ingenuity of CL attack.
Even in the EPL, Arsenal were lucky to get away with a 1-1 tie with newly promoted Portsmouth at Highbury; only a harsh penalty decision saved the day for the Gunners. But over the weekend Arsene Wenger proved that he can coach his side to grind out results when they tied 1-1 with Manchester United at Old Trafford. Grinding out results is a strategy Arsenal may want to carry with them for the rest of the season, particularly in the CL. It will also serve Arsenal well to work on discipline as Patrick Vieira was sent off yet again.
Discipline is the key for Arsenal to make it into the second phase of the CL. They will need it when they travel to Moscow in their next game. And it’s not just avoiding yellows and reds. The Gunners cannot expect to go all out with their attacking French flair and get results. They need to work much harder on their team defense. Moscow will be no push over as Kiev found out. Dynamo’s Diogo Rincon managed to hit a double in the final 10 minutes of the game eventually breaking Loko down. Inter can put themselves in the driving seat facing Kiev in the San Siro while Arsenal have it all to do in Moscow. Group B prediction: Arsenal once again putting themselves in a hole only to dig themselves out with results and join Inter in the next phase.
Manchester United got off to a flier in Group E thumping Panathinaikos 5-0. Greek support was at an all-time high when owner of the Stop Inn Restaurant in Woodside told “Soccer Scene” to show up in his diner the day after the game. We did and Mr. Giannopapas wasn’t there. A rude awakening for the Greeks, but they should not be written off as an easy game — they are not. In the EPL game over the weekend against Arsenal, United looked predictable. Rarely did Ruud van Nistelrooy get on the ball in the first half. United preferred to go out wide to Cristiano Ronaldo. Such strategy against more sophisticated European sides will not cut it. United are missing a central attack that may prove their downfall in their efforts to make the final four in the CL.
Meanwhile, Rangers are proving to be the dark horse in this group after beating VfB Stuttgart 2-1 at Ibrox. It looked like an early exit for the Gers in the qualifying round, but they showed some metal, winning by 2-1 on the road against FC Copenhagen after a 1-1 draw at Ibrox. Rangers are away to Panathinaikos but Mr. G from the Stop Inn is confident that “Soccer Scene” will be meeting him for his comments the day after that game. Group E prediction: Rangers to join the Red Devils for the next phase.
In Group G, Damien Duff turned the tables for Chelsea against Sparta Prague when he came off the bench to cross the ball for

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