Bayern Munich won its tenth straight Champions League game on Wednesday at CSKA Moscow, breaking the all-time record shared with the 2002-03 Barcelona team. In the final minutes of the victory, 18-year-old German-American Julian Green celebrated a milestone of his own — the highly-touted forward made his senior team debut for the reigning treble winners.
Green, who was born in Tampa, Florida but moved to Germany at age 2, has featured for both the U.S. and German national teams at youth level, and is yet to decide on his national team allegiance for the future. It is clear that both federations would love to secure the services of the phenom, though he is provisionally tied to Germany after having played for them in the Under-19 European Championships this summer.
Green has dominated the German Regionalliga (fourth tier) this season, scoring 15 goals and six assists in 18 matches for Bayern’s reserve team. His torrid form earned him a senior team contract earlier this month, and on Wednesday his first few minutes of action under Pep Guardiola. Green became the sixth-youngest Bayern player to debut in the Champions League, even beating out several of the team’s top stars, including Philipp Lahm, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos.
Here’s the full list of Bayern’s top 10 youngest players to make their Champions League debut:
With the exception of busts Berkant Goektan and Breno, every player on that list went on to have long, successful careers, and most of them (save for Santa Cruz) did so with Bayern. If that is anything to go by, Green is set for a sparking career!
With one matchday to go, Arsenal are sitting on 12 points in Group F but are still not officialy through to the Round of 16. How can that be? Thanks to Marseille losing each of their first five games, Dortmund and Napoli are both sitting on nine points and are also very much in the running for a place in the knockout stage.
If Napoli beat Arsenal at home on the final day and Dortmund take care of Marseille as expected, all three teams would sit on 12 points. And thanks to UEFA’s peculiar tie-breaking rules, figuring out who would move on in that very possible scenario is not so simple.
In all three teams are tied on 12 points, the two with the best goal difference in matches involving only the three clubs in question move on to the Round of 16. The results against Marseille get thrown out. In those games, Arsenal lead with a +2 goal difference, while Dortmund are +1, and Napoli are -3.
Since Dortmund plays Marseille last, they will remain at +1 and, if all three clubs are on 12 points, will definitely advance. In that scenario, Arsenal would still move on if they lose by less than three goals.
Here are the scenarios each team would need to qualify:
Arsenal: A win or tie in Napoli will be enough to put them through, as would a Dortmund loss or draw. If Dortmund win, the Gunners can also advance if they lose to Napoli by less than three goals.
Dortmund: Very straightforward: a win and they’re in. A draw would be enough if Arsenal tie or beat Napoli. A loss to Marseille could still be enough if Arsenal beat Napoli.
Napoli: They face the toughest road. If Napoli win by three or more goals, they are guaranteed a spot in the next round. A win by anything less and they’ll need Marseille to get at least a point against Dortmund. If Napoli tie against the Gunners, Marseille would need to beat Dortmund.
This week, U.S. national team record goalscorer Landon Donovan joins Fox Soccer’s UEFA Champions League broadcast as an analyst on FOX Sports 1. But first, he answers a few questions about his foray into television.
FOX Soccer: What draws you to TV commentary?
Landon Donovan: “I’ve always had an outside interest. I’ve watched from afar and always thought it was something that would be enjoyable. As most of us are, I can be pretty opinionated and sometimes I see things on TV and I go, ‘Oh, I wish they would have mentioned that’ or I think ‘The viewer would have wanted to see that.’ While I understand it’s probably not easy, it’s always something that I’ve had an interest in so when this opportunity came up it was something I wanted to do.”
FOX Soccer: You’ve been talking about wanting to do television commentary for a year or so, maybe even longer. You’ve been saying you want to better educate the public. What do you think you can add to the conversation?
LD: “I think we’re at a point now where people watching our game are thirsty for more intimate knowledge and that’s why guys like Warren [Barton] and Eric Wynalda, [Brian] McBride, you see Kasey Keller and Taylor Twellman and [Kyle] Martino, all these guys can add an insight that a lot of the commentators couldn’t in previous years. I think that people understand the game better now, people are more connected to the game than they ever have been in our country. There’s still a lot of insight and a lot of intimate details of the game that people I think would really enjoy hearing our thoughts about.
FOX Soccer: With all respect to the guys you’ve mentioned, you’ve seen and done more than any American soccer player ever. Do you think that adds a dimension for the viewer?
LD: “I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of different experiences, played in all sorts of different competitions and against many high-class players so I’ve been able to see the game in many different ways, in many different scenarios. I think I have a pretty good understanding of what happens and why it happens and why certain teams play certain ways and all those finite details. I look forward to sharing that with people.
FOX Soccer: Why the UEFA Champions League?
LD: “The timing was good. FOX was very proactive about having me. I’ve made it clear to my agent and a lot of different people that this is something that I’m interested in and FOX really took the initiative to give me an opportunity. If you’re going to do a broadcast it doesn’t get much better than the Champions League and I’ve been really looking forward to it.
Landon Donovan hopes to add some “forward thinking” to this week’s coverage (Image: Thomas Hautmann/FOX Sports)
Real Sociedad vs. Man United
Man City vs. CSKA
Bayern Munich beat Viktoria Plzen 5-0 on Wednesday in the Champions League, but that scoreline doesn’t even begin to describe how dominant the reigning champions were. According to UEFA’s official match report, Bayern incredibly out-shot Plzen 35:0. Twenty-two of Bayern’s attempts were on target.
No, really. This is a fact:
To be fair, stat services WhoScored.com and Opta both had it at 35:1 shots, crediting Plzen with one blocked attempt. But either way, this marks the biggest-ever shot discrepancy since such data was recorded:
34 - Bayern hatte gegen Pilsen 35-1 Torschüsse, eine solche Differenz gab es in der CL in 90 Minuten noch nie seit Datenerfassung. Übermacht— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz)
Translation: “Bayern had 35-1 shots on goal against Plzen, such a difference has never existed in the [Champions League] in 90 minutes since data collection. Superiority.”
Want more fun Bayern facts?
Bayern have held an average possession advantage of 71% so far in the Champions League, the highest of any team. Their 76 shot attempts are also the most of any team, while they’ve conceded only five shots on target thus far, another top mark. And Wednesday’s win was Bayern’s eighth straight Champions League victory, a new club record.
In short, we’re thinking Bayern are still the team to beat in Europe.
Image courtesy of Getty
If it seems like we’ve been tossing out one Zlatan Ibrahimovic story after another, it’s because we have. It’s not our fault, though. When Zlatan does incredible Zlatan things, we must obey.
On Wednesday, the PSG striker scored not one, not two, not three… but FOUR goals in a Champions League affair against RSC Anderlecht, making him just the tenth player to accomplish that feat in the Champions League era.
Zlatan hit his first three goals in a span of just 19 minutes in the first half, the eighth-quickest hat trick in competition history. None were more Zlatan-esque than the third, a stupendous half-volley from distance that practically broke the sound barrier. We clocked the strike at approximately 72.6 mph, though you could’ve told us it was 150 mph and we would’ve believed it. After that golazo, Anderlecht’s fans stood to applaud Ibrahimovic, knowing full well they wouldn’t get a better reason to do any cheering. Of course, Zlatan applauded right back at them.
In the second half, Zlatan graciously allowed Edinson Cavani to get his name on the score sheet before rounding out his four-pack in the 62nd minute. Sadly, Ibra couldn’t nab a fifth goal, which would have made him only the second player after Lionel Messi to score five in one Champions League match.
Perhaps next time. We can’t wait.
Image: Sky Sports News
Prior to Manchester City’s Champions League clash at CSKA Moscow, the Russian hosts came under fire for the terrible field conditions at Khimki Arena.
Because Khimki hosts both CSKA and city rivals Dynamo Moscow’s matches, the pitch has gotten increasingly worse from persistent heavy rain and a packed schedule. It also hasn’t helped that the Luzhniki Stadium, which regularly hosts Champions League games and could have eased the amount of fixtures at Khimki, is being rebuilt ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
As a result, CSKA were forced to play their last Champions League match in St. Petersburg, and City were asked to not train on the pitch on Tuesday night to help keep it somewhat playable.
Even so, at the mere sight of the pitch, City manager Manuel Pellegrini was incensed:
I just saw the pitch and I think it’s unbelievable that the most important cup competition in the world is allowed to be played on this pitch.
We must pray on Wednesday that it’s not raining. If it’s raining, it will be impossible to play on this pitch.
It could be called off. I didn’t believe it when I saw the pitch, both for the two teams and also for the people who will watch the game.
Don’t worry, folks; CSKA’s groundskeepers had the perfect solution to make the pitch more Champions League-worthy: paint the grass green!
There, perfect new pitch. Sort of:
In the end, it didn’t matter for City, who won 2-1 despite a few late chances for the Moscow club. CSKA might want to work on their unconventional grounds-keeping practices to avoid a green-tainted mess like this in the future.