Champions League HT lessons: Premier League exposed bar Chelsea
Liverpool set the tone for English clubs in the Champions League this season, bowing out after a miserable group-stage campaign, before Manchester City and Arsenal’s chances were scuppered in stunning fashion more recently.
At half-time of the round-of-16 knockout ties it looks grim for two of three remaining Premier League representatives, where only Chelsea escaped their first leg with credibility and a good shot at progression.
Paris St-Germain 1-1 Chelsea
In a shock concession, Jose Mourinho admitted that PSG had been closer to winning the game at Parc des Princes than his Chelsea side, and he wasn’t wrong.
Only Thibaut Courtois’ heroics in goal prevented more than Edinson Cavani’s equaliser changing the tie’s complexion in the second half, but those saves could well prove pivotal.
Chelsea are usually so strong at Stamford Bridge and ended the French champions’ interests at the quarter-final stages only last season with a 2-0 second-leg victory in west London.
Bet: Chelsea to beat PSG @ 17/20
Manchester City 1-2 Barcelona
Barcelona wasted no time in exposing the ongoing naivety of the English champions in Europe, scoring twice through Luis Suarez during a masterful first-half performance combining possession with intent.
If the first goal owed a little to fortune, the second both highlighted the deadliness of Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar’s three-pronged attack and the brittle nature of City’s defending against it – especially in their 4-4-2 formation.
Despite a brief rally through Sergio Aguero, Barca remained in control throughout with an extra man in midfield.
Even after Messi fluffed his lines from the spot at the death, Manuel Pellegrini’s side look dead, awaiting burial in Spain judging by this game.
Bet: Barcelona to score 4+ goals @ 33/1
Arsenal 1-3 Monaco
Arsenal saved the worst until last. It was pure car crash TV for those at home and even more excruciating for the Gunners faithful packed into an expectant Emirates Stadium.
There was no logical reason to explain the lacklustre first-half display which saw a limited Monaco side go into the break growing in confidence.
What followed in the second 45 was rightly described as ‘suicidal’ by Arsene Wenger.
Gilt-edged chances were wasted before calamitous defensive decisions enabled the French side to effectively kill the tie with two more goals on the break.
Arsenal’s chances of redemption in Monaco look slimmer than a fasting earthworm thanks to this nightmare in north London.
Bet: Dimitar Berbatov to score @ 9/4
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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