Friday, December 09, 2011

The surprises

The last round of matches of the group stages of the 2011-12 Champions League had a couple of surprises.
Firstly, Manchester United was elminated for the first time in the group stages of the tournament since the 2005-06 season. More surprising than this fact is nevertheless that it happened against the underestimated FC Basel in the last match of the tournament, where the English side needed only a tie to follow Benfica to the next round. However, the Swiss side was much more efficient, when they went ahead 1-0 early in the match they played a controlled defensive that kept United away for most of the match. Add a bit of luck and a late strike, and Basel managed to win 2-1 to complete Manchester United's sensational exit. In group A, Manchester City was also, less surprisingly, eliminated in spite of their win against Bayern Munich, so there will be no more CL football in Manchester this season.
Another surprise was that Olympique Lyon managed to follow Real Madrid to the next round in group D, after they needed to win with six goals away to Dynamo Zagreb to overtake Ajax Amsterdam (who losing to Real Madrid, could have solved it for themselves). Lyon won 1-7 in Zagreb, but the odd thing is how it happened: One man down, Zagreb nevertheless took the lead, only to see the French equalize before halftime on a gross defensive mistake. In the second half the home side fell mysteriously apart when Lyon scored six goals to take the ticket to the next round. French authorities are now looking into the match for the suspision of it being fixed, a thought that I think must have crossed many football fans' mind, including my own. Sadly, the fixing of matches at this level is not unheard of... It involving French sides is not unheard of neither.
That said, it may be wholly fair, and in that sense, one must congratulate Lyon, but the surprise simply looks too suspicious not to be looked into. I hope it was not fixed though.

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