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UEFA Champions League: Arsenal Rising, Liverpool Falling

Bradford Evans |
October 20, 2014 | 2:04 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Group play in the UEFA Champions League is well underway. The second week of matches in the tournament finished up earlier this month and each group is beginning to take its shape in the competition. Some of the biggest clubs in Europe are taking care of business, while others are struggling mightily. Let’s take a look at which club’s stock is up, and which clubs stock is down.

Paris Saint-Germain: Stock Up

Anytime a team beats Barcelona, its stock is going to increase exponentially. PSG were without their world-class striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as well as winger Ezekiel Lavezzi. Other players stepped up for the French League champions such as $60-million-dollar man David Luiz and youngster Marco Verratti who both netted goals. This performance was an enormous step up from their first showing, when they tied Ajax. PSG’s next match should be a walk in the park as they face Apoel Nicosia.

Liverpool: Stock Down

It’s unbelievable the difference one player makes for a team. The departure of Count Dracula (Luis Suarez) to Barcelona really hurt Liverpool. This is a team last year that had major defensive problems, but was not held accountable for them because they could rely on Suarez to bail them out of trouble with his scoring ability.

Their win in the first week of Champions League was against Ludogorets, and came down to a late penalty kick that Steven Gerrard converted. They followed that performance up with a loss to Swiss side, FC Basel. Striker Mario Ballotelli had no touches on the ball in the opponent’s penalty area, and was isolated the entire game, which gave the Reds no chance to get the ball into threatening positions.  Liverpool needs to find a way to absolve the issues they have creating chances and defending, as they face defending champions Real Madrid on Match Day #3.

Borussia Dortmund: Stock Up

Although Dortmund might not be playing their best football in the Bundesliga, they are playing at an exceptionally high level in the Champions League. Dortmund thrashed Arsenal in their first game2-0, and he score line doesn't even tell the entire story. Dortmund made life miserable for the Gunners, pressuring them on each pass and disrupting the entire flow of the game by doing so.

They followed that win up with a 3-0 victory over R.S.C. Anderlecht. Adrian Ramos was subbed in and converted two goals, while Italian Ciro Immobile scored early. Dortmund faces Galatasaray next, which could be an easy win, giving Dortmund complete control of their group.

SEE ALSO: Premier League Recap: Chelsea Cruise, Man U Back On Track


Barcelona: Stock Down

The Spanish powerhouse might be off to a flying start in La Liga, but they are really struggling in the Champions League. FC Barcelona only beat Apoel Nicosia, one of the worst teams in the tournament, by one goal. The following game they were beat by PSG, 3-2.

Going into the season, many questioned the defense of this team and their problems showed last week. The Spaniards conceded two out of three goals on set pieces. The defensive problems Barcelona experienced against PSG can be attributed to organization. On the set pieces, both David Luiz and Marco Verratti were not challenged while the ball was in the air. Barcelona goes on to face Ajax on Match Day #3 and seek redemption after a loss in Paris.

Arsenal: Stock Up

After being dominated by Borussia Dortmund in their first match, Arsenal picked up the slack and crushed Turkish side Galatasaray 4-1. In the first game, Arsenal could barely put together three passes thanks to Dortmund’s high pressure but their second game was a different story. Arsenal flipped the switch, and strung together any pass they pleased and created numerous chances. Arsenal forward, Danny Welback caught fire and scored a hat-trick.

Part of the reason Arsenal was so successful was because of Galatasaray’s decision to put only three defenders at the back, which allowed for the Arsenal forwards and wingers to do whatever they pleased. Arsenal goes into their next Champions League match against Anderlecht and are hoping they can perform at the high level they exhibited last week. 

Juventus: Stock Down

The Bianconeri have cruised through Serie A for three straight seasons, but always seem to struggle in the Champions League, and this year might be no different from others. Sure, Juventus won against Swedish League Champions Malmo 2-0, but everyone expected them to. The Old Lady faced last year’s runner up in the tournament, Athletico Madrid, next and fell one-nil.

Juventus’ usual strategy is to play from the back and build up a slow, controlled attack. In their last match, the only thing Juventus did was pass the ball around in their own half. There were close to no scoring chances for the Italians and the team looked stagnated. Part of the problem was the absence of their playmaker Andrea Pirlo, but that cannot be attributed to the entire reason as to why no chances were created. The team looked flat and hardly even attempted to get into threatening positions. Juventus gets Andrea Pirlo back for their next Champions League match and square off against Olympiacos.

Reach Staff Reporter Bradford Evans here



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