From a Bundesliga perspective, Matchday 4 was overall almost as impressive as Matchday 3. At the end, we have one team guaranteed of winning their group (Bayern), one guaranteed for the round of 16 and almost certain to win their group (Dortmund) and another who are leading their group (Leverkusen). The one glaring setback came from Schalke’s 4-2 defeat to Sporting Lisbon but even they still have a fair chance to qualify. Overall, the Bundesliga is looking strong so far by Champions League standards and has proven it is not only about Bayern.
1). Dortmund 4-1 Galatasaray
Despite only having 7 points from 10 domestic matches, despite having to bear abuse inflicted on their fans by visitors within their home stadium and despite still facing the toxic combination of damaging transfer rumours (Marco Reus) and injuries (Mats Hummels, Kuba), Dortmund could not be smoother in their Champions League performance so far, winning now 4 out of 4 matches. Despite firecrackers and flares being thrown onto the pitch throughout the second half, Dortmund had relative ease in producing victory. While the match was definitely closer than the scoreline, Dortmund were able to play their style of attacking football and had a few good signs in performances from the likes of Piszczek and Gündoğan . This along with the goals from Reus, Sokratis, Ciro Immobile (plus an own goal) means that Dortmund are still meant to be taken seriously. It is only a matter of tactics changing and certain players hitting their stride in order to reverse their slump at home.
2). Bayer Leverkusen: 2 -1 Zenit St. Petersburg
An impressive road showing by Leverkusen allowed them to edge out a third straight Champions League victory, thanks to Son Heung-Min’s second half brace, the first being a beautifully clinical free kick done by the squad. The Calhanoglu-Bellarabi-Son setup is of memorable standards. They are now on the cusp of qualifying for the Final 16. The victory definitely came in part because of Bernd Leno’s goalkeeping and the fine tackles of Emir Spahić. Leverkusen look notably better than both the side that was in this competition last year and so far better than the side we see in the Bundesliga that has had some uninspiring performances so far.
3). Bayern Munich 2-0 AS Roma
Not surprisingly, this win was not as dominant as the 7-1 road victory from the last match. Bayern were missing Arjen Robben due to a stomach bug and Thomas Müller receiving rest. Nevertheless, Bayern were clearly in control of this match. Franck Ribéry, receiving one of his long-awaited starts and Mario Götze contributed the goals, Manuel Neuer had a few big saves and kudos to players like David Alaba for controlling the midfield. While Roma were much sharper defensively and able to tighten the game, they did little themselves in the final third of the pitch. Bayern didn’t let the Italian side see much of the ball, having 71% possession. Unbeaten so far in the Champions League, Bayern are perhaps only behind Real Madrid in being the most impressive UEFA side at this moment. The next two matches can see a few starters rest now that first place is secured.
4). Schalke 2-4 Sporting Lisbon
There are many possible negative conclusions to draw from this match that saw the one Bundesliga defeat for Matchday 4. One is, nevermind the Champions League for 2015/16 for the Royal Blues, they are not at the level of Borussia Mönchengladbach, Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim or Leverkusen. Di Matteo has yet to make a positive impression upon this side and for this match, it has to be questioned why players like Kevin Prince-Boateng were not starting. While Schalke were facing an angry and inspired Sporting Lisbon side, getting trounced by these European minnows suggests that this side is not apt for the Final 16. The tactics lack clarity and any defensive master plan by Di Matteo fails to exist.
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