Hello! It’s Friday, and time to travel north of the border to watch some of the greatest European club sides do battle once again. We’ve twelve matches for you this week, with two rounds of league fixtures followed by European games for Philip and Zak. So, on with the show…
First up this week were Philip and Nathan. Both sides went into this on good form after a win and a draw each last week. But it was Barca who emerged victorious after goals in the first 15 minutes from Beguiristain and Salinas. After his Der Klassiker win and a draw with Man Utd last week, Nathan would have been disappointed that his side only managed one shot on target, but his injury crisis is easing, and there are now just three of his squad on the crocked list.
Bavaria was the next destination as Andrew hosted Zak, who wasn’t in attendance. The 13th minute was unlucky for Andrew as he lost Lizarazu, and with no left back on the bench, he was forced to “put the Willy in” on the wrong side. Marseille had a goal ruled out on 19 minutes but did lead at half time thanks to Casoni. Bayern were offered some hope with 18 minutes remaining as Desailly saw red, but Deschamps struck in the final minute to seal a 2-0 win.
Next stop Old Trafford, as Ross welcomed Dean, who pointed out that he’d failed to score past Ross in the previous 2 meetings, and that he was hoping for Schmeichel to get sent off. Litmanen took Dean’s comments personally and duly put Ajax ahead in the first minute. Blomqvist levelled, but Ajax were up for the fight and Bogarde regained Dean’s lead just before half time. Cole pulled United back into it once more but it was Deano’s day, and Overmars struck to nullify his manager’s pessimism.
Next up was another red vs white affair as Dave hosted Rob. Both dugouts were quiet, Dave was carrying out double duties and recording the MOTP podcast at the same time, and Rob wasn’t in attendance at all. After not finding the net for 2 weeks, Papin returned to form and netted 4 times in just over half an hour before Ratkovic replied to make it 4-1 at half time. Dave decided that Papin’s work was done, and brought on Raducioiu for a second half in which not much happened except a Prosinecki goal.
After picking up a whopping 4 points last week, I actually fancied my team’s chances against Matt and his Old Lady. Raul struck first, but Juve were quickly level through Del Piero. Raul got another, but again Juve responded. Beating Peruzzi once is rare, and twice is incredible, so you can imagine my joy when Suker got our third goal! As the minutes ticked by, I was on my way to another win, but Del Piero struck again late on to spoil the party. 3 points would have been nice, but a draw was probably fair.
So with one round of league games out of the way, it’s straight onto the next, starting with Barcelona vs Juventus. Stoichkov gave Barca an early lead, and his partner, Salinas made it 2. Matt thought he’d pulled one back on the stroke of half time, only for the ref to see “an infringement”. The 2nd half brought 5 more efforts at goal, but they were all from Barca, and Matt was disappointed with his side, who only managed a corner and 2 free kicks. Another solid display from Barcelona.
Andrew beat me last time, so I was out for revenge. We both suffered early injuries, I lost Redondo again, and Andrew’s striking options became even more limited as he lost Elber. But Salihamidzic, who replaced the Brazilian gave Bayern the lead, and Raul grabbed his 3rd goal of the evening on half time. Bayern had the better of the 2nd half, but Cañizares kept them out, and then my substitute Morientes struck from out of nowhere to win the game in the last minute. When your luck’s in, your luck’s in.
Next was Ross’ 2nd home game of the night, and Zak’s 2nd away game. Ross was dealt a huge blow before the match, as Schmeichel broke a finger in training, but unfortunately for the rest of the league, he was only ruled out for a few days. So in came Van der Gouw, who concede four goals in the 1st half. Ross made all 3 subs at half time, and it had an impact as G-Nev and Yorke halved the deficit, but Pele crushed any comeback hopes, and Ross’ last comment of the game was “What the f*ck is going on back there?”
Both Dave and Dean were looking to get their 2nd win of the night, and Milan led at half time through Lentini. Dean’s pre-season team instructions were “Everything goes through Jari” and this paid off when the Fin levelled just before the hour. Lentini got his 2nd, and Papin got in on the act to make it 3-1. A Peter “Beetlejuice” Van Vossen goal normally comes with every Ajax ticket, and after failing to find the net earlier against Man Utd, he made up for it by netting a late consolation to make the final score 3-2.
The last league game of the night saw Rob welcome Nathan. Both sides were looking to bounce back after losing earlier in the night. Red Star’s cause wasn’t helped by an early red to Radinovic, and the ten men were soon made to pay by Kirovski and a brace from Herrlich. Binic nicked one back after the restart, but Heinrich made it 4-1, and although they won convincingly, it was Red Star who had the most shots at goal (17) and Dortmund keeper, Stefan Klos had a rating of 8, so it was closer than the score suggests.
We finished the night with a couple of European games, starting with Zak’s Marseille vs Udinese. Völler and Boksic scored either side of half time to make it 2-0 to I’OM. Oliver Bierhoff got a crucial away goal for the Italians, which Zak won’t be happy about, but a win’s a win.
The final game was a trip to Monaco for Philip. He’d have been hoping for a repeat of the 4-2 hammering his Barca side gave the French outfit last time out, but although there weren’t quite as many goals this time, they still won and remain top of their group, and look in good shape to progress.
So after another week of action, we have another new leader, as Philip sits top of the pile. His side have quietly gone about their business and played some good football using Nikolai’s narrow 2-3-1-2-2 tactic with a sweeper keeper. Previous leader Ross has dropped to 4th, Zak has climbed from 5th to 2nd, Dean’s a non-mover at 3, Dave is up a place to 4th, Matt down 2 places to 6th, and at the bottom end, I swapped places with Andrew, but there’s a chasm of 9 points between 6th and 7th.
So that’s a wrap for this week, join us again same time next week for more of the same! Don’t forget, you can watch this week’s action in video by clicking here