With the Champions League at the halfway point, teams are dividing themselves into the haves and the have-nots. Barcelona will be happy with Messi's first start, while Celtic look like they're too far out over their skis in Europe's top flight. Here are the top takeaways from Wednesday's slate of Champions League action.
Celtic just can't hang in the Champions League
Borussia Monchengladbach were missing half of their starting lineup and playing at Celtic Park. It looked like they were primed to drop points, but they had no problem against Celtic. They probably should have won by four or five goals, even. Still, they’ll happily take their three points back to Germany and it’s fair to ask if Celtic even belong at this point in the competition. They’re in a tough group, but 12 goals conceded from three matches and being dominated by a half-strength Gladbach side in Scotland has made it clear that they are way out of their depth.
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Napoli pull a Napoli with stinker against Bestikas
Napoli are a good team. Besiktas, well, they’re not bad, but Napoli shouldn’t have had any problems with them, and yet they did. They allowed Besiktas to score first and after they answered to make it 1-1, it looked like they would overcome their early hiccup. Only they conceded again. And after equalizing a second time, they let Besiktas score in the 86th minute to win the match. And this match was in Naples! We’ve come to expect Napoli to trip over themselves, but this one was extra special, even for Napoli.
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As Mesut Ozil goes, so do Arsenal
Mesut Ozil’s a bit of an enigma. He’s not your typical “grab the game by the scruff of the neck” player, but his effect on Arsenal is comprehensive. If teams can mark him out of the match, it very often means Arsenal are out of the match. We didn’t learn too much from Arsenal’s hiding of Ludogorets, but one thing’s for sure. Mesut Ozil runs this team. Oh, and Alexis Sanchez is pretty good too.
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Atletico have another young gem in Yannick Carrasco
Rostov put forth and admirable effort to hold Atletico at bay, but eventually the Spanish side broke through. It was frustrating all match for Atletico, as Rostov hunkered down and played without the ball. But even with the likes of Koke, Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres on the pitch, it was Yannick Carrasco that stood out. The Belgian was a threat all match before finally breaking through around the hour mark. His half-volleyed goal was skillful and deserved, at least by his account. Atletico have a penchant for finding treasures, and it looks like Carrasco might be another. His goal on Wednesday gave him his fourth in the past two matches.
Bayern still know how to win
Bayern Munich went into the game on their first 3-game winless run in 17 months and facing questions over their mentality, but the team showed a defiant response against PSV. Led by the superb Thiago and Arjen Robben, Bayern played with more energy and drive to goal, and extended their Champions League record home winning streak to 14 games. Crisis averted.
Messi continues to be a boss
BREAKING: Lionel Messi is a difference-maker. It doesn’t matter if he’s coming off an injury layoff, it doesn’t matter if he’s facing his old boss, it really doesn’t even matter who he’s playing (unless it’s Atletico, but that’s a whole different story). Put him on the pitch and he makes things happen. He just happened to do so against one of Europe’s best teams tonight, even if he got a little help from City’s floundering goalkeeper and defense.