Hello champ man lovers! and welcome once again to your weekly dose of elite European action with the blog squad. This week we have eleven matches for you, with the one remaining League Cup quarter final sandwiched between two rounds of league fixtures. After a strong start by Ross’ Man Utd ‘99, it’s currently Zak and his undefeated Marseille ‘93 side sitting pretty at the top of the pile, but can he extend his run for another week?
Andrew and Philip got us underway, and Andrew took the early initiative through utility man Fink. But Strunz saw red less than a minute later to bring Andrew’s celebrations to an abrupt halt. Kahn was having a blinder and saving everything but Barca’s persistence eventually paid off with two late quick-fire goals. Andrew made a tactical tweak but no subs as he said none of them were worth putting on. So another win for Philip, and he remains undefeated.
Next were Nathan and Dave. Nathan was looking for his second win, while confidence was high in the Milan camp after their 4-0 demolition of Raith Rovers last week. The first half was drab, but the game livened up around the hour with goals, red cards and injuries in the last half an hour. There was no need for Dave’s main man Papin to roll back the years as he’d been made younger for this save, but he started the scoring before three of his team mates piled misery on Nathan to make the final score 4-0.
Rob got off to a dream start against Matt as Darko “The Cobra” Pancev put Red Star ahead in the first minute. However, this seemed to rile the old lady, and she hit back with five goals before the half time whistle. Rob was questioning whether his keeper actually had hands, but he did better in the second half as Red Star staged a late mini comeback as Savicevic pulled one back but missed the chance to make it 5-3 from the spot. That was Matt’s first win since week 2, so he’ll be glad to be back to winning ways.
Zak against Dean promised to be a cracker, and Dean was probably relieved that he wasn’t in attendance for this one as Marseille ran riot in the first match of the night not to see a red card. A brace from Rudi Voller and a Martín Vázquez strike made it 3-0 at the break, and the in-form Van Vossen offered the briefest of replies from Ajax on 52. But Marseille smelt blood and Sauzee and Pele added goals 4 and 5 before Völler ensured that he’d be taking the match ball home by completing his hat trick.
I welcomed Ross in the final match of the first set of league games. I wasn’t confident in the slightest and thought it would be a case of how many for Ross. First-minute goals had been a bit of a theme in the two previous matches, and Ryan Giggs carried on the trend before a brace from Andy Cole put the visitors 3-0 up inside half an hour. Christian Karembeu got us on the board and it was 3-1 at half time. Andy Cole became the second player of the night to bag a hat trick as he got the first of six second half goals which saw the game finish 6-4 to Ross.
After the first lot of league games, the two undefeated sides went head to head in the one remaining League Cup quarter final, something had to give. We had yet another first-minute goal as Antonio Pinilla put Barca ahead and held onto the lead until half time. Marseille kept chipping away in the second half and Sauzee and Boksic struck to turn a action-packed match on its head with 14 minutes remaining.
Zak completes the semi-final lineup and he’ll take on Dave, with Ross and Dean facing off in the other game.
On to the second lot of league matches we go, and Dean took on Matt in the first match. Van Vossen scored for the fourth game running to get Ajax off the mark, and Finidi George made it two not long after. Torricelli and Overmars traded goals and the half ended 3-1 to Ajax. At half time, Matt decided to take a look at what tactics Dean was employing, and he was truly baffled when he saw the formation and decided that it was best not to think too much about how to combat it. Despite a further combined 12 shots at goal in the second half, no more goals were scored and it was a win for Dean.
To say that Nathan has been unlucky with injuries so far would be the understatement of the year, with six of his his squad currently crocked, and his luck didn’t show any signs of changing as he lost Heiko Herrlich early on. He then had Reuter send off just to make things a bit harder. Marseille’s one-man advantage did not last long however, as Basile Boli also saw red just past the hour. Rudi Voller is fast becoming a cult hero on Tuesday nights, and he was on hand to grab a late winner and ensure that Zak’s loss column stays blank for another week at least.
After Zak and Dean’s wins, Ross would have wanted to beat Andrew to keep the pressure on. Ryan Giggs struck early for the second time in two games, and netted his second soon after to settle any early nerves that Ross may have had. The half time stats were pretty one-sided, with Ross having 15 shots at goal compared to Andrew’s sole effort. Andrew decided to bring on “Silly Willy” Sagnol for Lizarazu in the second half, but the French swap did little to inspire his team and it wasn’t long before United got a third through Scholes. Zickler got a late goal but even that didn’t go without reply as Gary Neville netted yet again to make it 4-1 at the final whistle.
The penultimate match of the evening saw Dave host Philip. The Rossoneri weren’t messing around and went 3-0 up in no time through Albertini and a Simone brace. Papin is another striker in form and he got on the score sheet before Laudrup replied for the visitors to make it 4-1 at half time. Dave was actually pleased with how his keeper, Rossi was playing for once, but the same couldn’t be said for Philip, who subbed Zubizaretta for Busquets. Papin got his second on 67 and the only other goal came from Stoichkov late on, but it wasn’t enough to save Philip from his first defeat of the season.
The final match was the battle of the basement between Rob and myself. Rob had only experienced the joy of victory once up until now, but I was still in search of my first win, so this was a massive game for both of us. The first half was pretty underwhelming, but after going close a few times, Savio gave me the lead just after half time. If I’ve learned one thing from playing this game, it’s not to celebrate until the final whistle has gone, and sure enough, the cobra and Savicevic both struck either side of a Redondo red card to grab Rob the victory. I felt a little aggrieved to have lost after having 22 shots at goal, but our day will come!
So after 10 games, 51 goals, 6 red cards, 2 injuries and a missed penalty, this is what the table is looking like. Zak and his Marseille side are still at the summit, but Ross is keeping the pressure on. At the opposite end, there’s some daylight opening up between 6th and 7th, so the bottom sides will want to get some points on the board soon to avoid being cut adrift.
Don’t forget that as always, you can watch the video of this week’s action by clicking here. See you next week for more fun and games!