Feb 23, 2021
Three things we learned from Atletico Madrid – Chelsea, Lazio – Bayern
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The UEFA Champions League returned with two more first legs on Tuesday, with clubs from some of Europe’s busiest cities matched up around the continent. (video)© Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images
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1. Growth is good (and so, maybe, is better management): A year after being demolished by Bayern Munich 7-1 over two legs in the Round of 16 — with 5.5 months in between — Chelsea took advantage of a sloppy Atletico Madrid and might’ve been happy to head back to Stamford Bridge at 0-0. No one’s going to mistake Atleti’s attack for Bayern and the reigning champs out-scored the Spanish side 5-1 over two group stage games, but holding the hosts without a shot on target at the Wanda Metropolitano is no small feat. Turns out Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger are good at defending.
2. Atleti’s hunger hard to find: Diego Simeone will be raging, curious if his players took Chelsea for granted. Even if the Madrid side was within 22 minutes of a clean sheet and an advantage heading to London, it was difficult to identify some of the side’s stars. Luis Suarez was hungry and midfield tandem Saul Niguel and Koke ready to go, but there wasn’t much more coming from the field players.
3. Gymnastic Giroud: Regardless of how many goals Olivier Giroud scores in his career, the 34-year-old is going to be remembered for the bangers. It seems every year he generates at least one Puskas Award nominee and his sixth Champions League goal of the season was no exception. The Frenchmen got *up* to smash an overhead kick home for 1-0 to the Blues on Tuesday with Chelsea’s fourth shot on target.
Bonus. Pulisic plays: The American winger got some minutes under his belt after injury and selection worries, playing 10 minutes with seven touches.Man of the Match: Olivier Giroud
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Unsure how it could be anyone else, although Azpilicueta was wonderful.
Worth the wait. Olivier Giroud with a spectacular finish. ???? pic.twitter.com/VT5ojrD2NS
— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) February 23, 2021Three things we learned from Lazio – Bayern Munich
1. The champs are very real and almost through: Bayern entered on a two-match winless run following the Club World Cup in Qatar and didn’t look like a team missing Douglas Costa, Serge Gnabry, Benjamin Pavard, Thomas Muller, and Corentino Tolisso. That’s a five-a-side team that would stomp most. Even with all the injuries, where were the holes? Bayern had Niklas Sule at right back and started a teenager at center mid in Musiala, neither who was anywhere near poor over 90 minutes. Bet against them? Hardly.
2. Lazio’s back line overwhelmed: Four away goals, as Pepe Reina had as many saves as goals conceded, Mateo Musaachio and Patric struggled and were both subbed out, and the club’s best defender on the day, Francesco Acerbi, managed an own goal to blight his record. Sure Ciro Immobile, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Luis Alberto, and Joaquin Correa can put up a performance against anyone, but the Romans can start thinking about 2021-22, thank you very much.
3. Nice to meet you: Bayern Munich isn’t afraid to hand chances to youth, even more than usual under Hansi Flick. Enter Jamal Musiala, an ex-Saints and Chelsea youngster who made his Bundesliga debut in the summer alongside USMNT back Chris Richards (now on loan and playing regularly at Hoffenheim). Seventeen for three more days, Musiala played in the middle of a 4-2-3-1 and collected his fourth goal of the season in all competitions. Yeah, you read his age correctly.Man of the Match: Robert Lewandowski.
He scored because of course he scored. A man who needs to be discussed as in the class of his generation with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo was economical, powerful, and ready to roar.
Not that he had to work hard for his goal.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Lazio gift Lewandowski his 72nd #UCL goal ???? pic.twitter.com/zuPs7zBln5
— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) February 23, 2021The latest PL action Three things we learned from Arsenal – Man City
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Chelsea retains 4th in EPL with home win over Everton
LONDON (AP) — Kai Havertz is finally making an impact at Chelsea and helping the pursuit of Champions League qualification.
The Germany playmaker Havertz has struggled to convince since joining from Bayer Leverkusen in the offseason for up to 70 million pounds (then $92 million).
Havertz struggled under previous Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, suffering lasting effects from a coronavirus infection and battling for regular first-team action.
But Havertz helped Chelsea to beat Everton 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Monday and was unlucky not to have a goal to his name after starring in the false nine position.
Havertz was unlucky not to be credited with Chelsea’s first goal, with Ben Godfrey’s deflection eventually confirmed as an own goal. The lively forward later saw a neat finish ruled out for handball before winning a penalty that Jorginho converted.
“I’m very happy with his performance, no doubt about his quality his talent and also not about his character,” Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said. “He needs to adapt to the Premier League, he needs to be at a club where you play to win every game, where the highest standards are normal. That’s a normal process also for him to adapt to this mentality.”
Chelsea’s mean-spirited defense under Tuchel continues to set new standards in west London. The German has now become the first manager to secure five clean sheets in his first five home league games.
Chelsea boasts nine clean sheets in Tuchel’s 11 matches in charge, and only Maurizio Sarri with 12 games has enjoyed a longer unbeaten start to life at the club.
It leaves Chelsea two points ahead of fifth-placed West Ham, which beat Leeds 2-0 in the other game on Monday.
A year ago, West Ham was out of the relegation zone only on goal difference. Now the east London club is chasing European qualification.
West Ham took the lead in the 21st minute with virtually its first attack.
Jesse Lingard played a neat one-two with Said Benrahma and skipped into the area, where Luke Ayling clumsily brought him down. The Manchester United loanee’s penalty was saved by Leeds goalkeeper Ilan Meslier but he netted from the rebound.
“Once that first goal came, we settled down and now we’re starting to learn to win ugly,” West Ham captain Declan Rice said.
West Ham extended its lead when Craig Dawson arrived at the far post to head in Aaron Cresswell’s corner in the 28th.
“We didn’t play the best, but we’re grinding out those results, we’ve got a real solidity about us and long may that continue,” Rice said.
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