Juve remain unbeaten in Champions League draw with Gladbach
Italian champions and last season’s runner-up Juventus maintained their unbeaten start to the Champions League after a 0-0 draw against Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The Foals turned in a disciplined and organized performance to keep a clean sheet and build upon the confidence under new coach Andre Schubert. Under the interim boss, Gladbach have won all four league games whilst turning in respectable performances in the Champions League against Manchester City and Juventus.
A point does little to help Gladbach’s hopes of reaching the Last 16, but the Bundesliga side are off the mark at least. Juventus were coming off the back of a draw with Inter Milan as their weak domestic campaign continues to fizzle out already.
Despite sitting nine points off the top of Serie A, The Old Lady are unbeaten in 10 at home in the Champions League. But Max Allegri’s squad has been decimated since the Champions League final in Berlin: Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and Carlos Tevez have all left for pastures new this year. While Juventus are one of the continent’s leading sides, Gladbach are improving having spent most of the first four weeks bottom of the league.
Schubert has injected confidence into many underperforming players, such as Lars Stindl or Andre Hahn. In midfield, he has a gem in Mahmoud Dahoud who again was one of the most assured players on the pitch. The 19-year-old’s passing ability is wonderful and he has already taken the responsibility in the team’s engine room.
On eight minutes, Raffael blazed a shot wide of the post from 30 yards out. However, chances for Andre Schubert’s men were limited in the first half as Juventus dominated. Alvaro Morata and midfielder Paul Pogba linked superbly on 16 minutes, the former Real Madrid striker striking over the top. Four minutes later, Frenchman Pogba dragged a left-foot shot past Yann Sommer’s post.
Former Chelsea man Juan Cuadrado made little contribution on the right, but did test Sommer next on 22 minutes. Pogba was soon on the scene once more and this time, rifled his shot from 30 yards past the corner of the post.
On the counterattack, the Foals were ready to hurt Juventus. Schubert, the interim successor to Lucien Favre, has built his team around fast, rapid wide men with Fabian Johnson and Lars Stindl playing roles. There was a fleeting glimpse of the attacking play from recent weeks in the 36th minute. Traore showed pace and skill to drive down the left-flank, his cross at the back post cleared by Giorgio Chiellini to prevent Raffael finishing off the move.
But after the restart, the Old Lady found their rhythm again. Just a few seconds into the second half, Pogba brought out an excellent save from Sommer whose excellent goalkeeping skills have saved Gladbach from potential embarrassment in this tournament.
Ten minutes later, Pogba set up Morata with a splendid chipped ball but the former Real Madrid striker saw his shot hit the side-netting. The Frenchman was pivotal to everything good about Juventus’ game and Pogba showed his brilliance and forced Sommer into another save.
With less than 10 minutes left, Pogba missed the target once more with a long-range drive. But the Foals were already in lockdown mode, sitting deep in order to block any spaces opening up for the Juventus attackers. In the end, Juventus and Gladbach both earned their points in a disappointing game of football. Gladbach are bottom of the group after three games with just one point, while Juventus have seven from nine ahead of their clash at Borussia-Park next month.
Galatasaray defeated Benfica 2-1 to claim their first win in 10 fixtures in Europe and revive their hopes of advancing from Group C into the Champions League’s final 16.
The talented Nicolas Gaitan gave the visitors a second-minute lead before Selcuk Inan, from the penalty spot, and Lukas Podolski secured a vital victory. Gaitain found space after team-mate Jonas Goncalves Oliveira’s free-kick, showed his composure by stepping inside Aurelien Chedjou’s diving tackle with his left foot and then, with his right, calmly chipped over Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.
Inan’s opportunity to equalise came when Benfica’s Andre Almeida blocked Bilal Kisa’s shot with his hand. Powerfully sending the penalty into the top-left corner beyond goalkeeper Julio Cesar’s reach, the captain made the score 1-1. Podolski, whose finishing ability remains as polished as ever, then fired the home side in front in the 33rd minute. The German forward collected Chedjou’s long ball on the right before sending a classy left-footed finish between Cesar’s legs.
Despite Galatasaray being the team with momentum, Benfica sought an equalising goal before half-time and repeatedly threatened before the break. It was the hosts, however, who came closest to scoring in the second half. Midfielder Wesley Sneijder sent a dangerous free-kick against the post four minutes after the restart, with Cesar beaten, and Umut Bulut forced another fine save from Cesar with a poked, close-range shot.
For all of Benfica’s growing pressure – they also went close with long-range efforts – as the game progressed, Galatasaray remained resilient and held out. The victory was their first in the Champions League since December 2013.