Friday, October 22, 2010

7 Players Who Made the Difference in the Champions/Europa League

Instead of doing the usual wrap up where I tediously go mention every score of every game in the Champions and Europa League, of which there are 40 in total every midweek. I've decided that when there's midweek action in European tournaments, I'll be mentioning the most influential players which played in the tournaments. It'll usually be seven (could be more, could be less) players who truly made a difference in their Champions/Europa League games, and as the competitions progress out of the group stages, I'll focus more on match reports.

So here we go:

Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale was the one-man team when Tottenham played against Inter Milan at the San Siro. Although his side was 4-0 down by halftime, thanks to an impressive display by Inter, accompanied by Tottenham's keeper Gomes being sent off, Bale managed to give the European champions a scare. He made an amazing run and finished wonderfully past Julio Cesar for his first around the 51st minute, and then in the final minutes of the match, he scored another similar goal, and then another great strike to end the match 4-3! He's truly become a fast, physical, and complete player who dominates the left flank for Tottenham, it'll be interesting if there might be any offers coming Tottenham's way for the Welshman around January.

Philippe Coutinho

Another player from the fantastic 4-3 match played out between Inter and Tottenham, and while he didn't have a massive impact like Bale did, Coutinho was instrumental in the match. The 18 year-old Brazilian didn't look out of his depth at all among all the star players and veterans which surrounded him, he was calm and composed, and he provided moments of individual brilliance. He kept possession with his smart passing, was always in the right spot to help teammates, and he was a constant threat for Tottenham. Although he didn't score, he provided Eto'o a fantastic through pass for Inter's fourth goal which the Cameroon forward finished a little sloppily. One to watch for the future, without a doubt.

Lionel Messi

While nobody can doubt the talent of this little Argentinean, it seemed like he'd had a slight dip in form recently. But it was Lionel Messi who singlehandedly secured three points for Barcelona against Copenhagen in their 2-0 over the Danish side. While we're used to seeing Messi curl in his shots with finesse, he showed that he has power in his shot as well with his first goal. A spectacular strike which flew up into the top left hand corner to give Barcelona the lead at the Camp Nou. His second goal wasn't as fantastic, just a simple tap-in, but still, Messi has shown that he can single-handedly dominate games yet again just like last season.

Emmanuel Adebayor Scores his 3rd goal Manchester City 2010/11 Manchester City V Lech Poznan (3-1) 21/10/10 UEFA Europa League Photo: Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via NewscomAdebayor

Adebayor has often been criticized for being slightly lazy, but he was wonderful for Manchester City in their 3-1 win over Lech Poznan at Eastlands. In fact he scored all three goals for the English side, it was his first which was the best: a delightful spin past a defender and a perfect finish around the keeper. His second was a pinpoint header from David Silva's cross, and his third a tap-in from another one of Silva's crosses. A truly wonderful hat trick, and the situation becomes all the more interesting for Adebayor, especially because Manchester City will be facing Arsenal over the weekend...


Porto had to travel away to Besiktas, all the way in Istanbul for a difficult match, but having Hulk in their team made things a lot easier for the Portuguese side. Things started well for Porto, Falcao headed in from a corner to give them the lead, but their central defender Maicon was sent off before halftime for a silly foul. But that didn't matter to Hulk, the Brazilian scored two phenomenal goals, both of them being tracked by defenders as he finished with flair past the keeper. And while Porto were winning 3-0 with only ten men, they eventually got another sent off! Fernando was sent off when he got his second yellow card, and Besiktas managed to pull a goal back at the end of the match.

Maurice Edu

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho speaks during a news conference at the Valdebebas training grounds outside Madrid September 17, 2010. Mourinho will not accept an offer to take temporary charge of the struggling Portuguese national team for next month's Euro 2012 qualifiers, the Real Madrid coach said on Friday.REUTERS/Susana Vera (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER HEADSHOT PROFILE)Rangers faced Valencia at Ibrox Stadium in Scotland, and my choosing the American, Maurice Edu, as one of the influential players this matchday is slightly ironic. Things were going perfectly for Rangers when Edu headed in from a corner before halftime, a good goal for Rangers who haven't scored too many in the Champions League so far. But it was to be a sad day for Maurice Edu, because in the second half a low cross flicked off of his head and into the back of Rangers's net. An unlucky own goal which caused the match to end 1-1 for Rangers, who happen to be second in their group, behind Manchester United, and above Valencia and Bursaspor.

Jose Mourinho

While Jose Mourinho isn't a player, I felt like I had to include him in this list. The other massive clash in the Champions League which took place was Real Madrid - AC Milan, and while the 2-0 scoreline didn't illustrate much dominance from Mourinho's side, they were much better than the Italians. It seems like Jose Mourinho is the man who knows how to take vengeance on people, he's had his revenge against AC Milan, and mainly Ibrahimovic who snubbed him at Inter to go to Barcelona. I fully expect Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid to be drawn against Inter in one of the later stages of the competition, and guess what, I think he's gonna win. That's the type of guy he is.

I hope you've like this new format of reviewing the European midweek games, please share your thoughts below!

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