Wednesday featured many marquee matchups in the Champions League, and they surely did not disappoint with a lot of exciting play throughout each game. These are my four takeways from Wednesday’s action.
-Guardiola’s City is indeed mortal. Pep well surely be thinking over what happened on the pitch Wednesday when Celtic broke for three goals against this previously unlockable City defense that hasn’t allowed more then one goal all season in all competitions. City will have until Sunday to fill the gaps in their defense until a 2nd place Tottenham hosts the citizens at White Hart Lane. Aleksander Kolarov looked more then capable at center back versus Swansea last Saturday but looked lost and had trouble marking Moussa Dembele all game. Could we see the return of John Stones into the City lineup?
-Turan is the answer for Messi. Luis Enrique gave the opportunity to Paco Alcacer to see if he could play alongside Suarez and Neymar in Messi’s absence. Alcacer is considered the inherit of a spot in Barca’s front three for Messi or Suarez. Arda Turan has been getting a majority of starts for Barca and has been playing considerably well, being a creative weapon opposite Neymar, feeding Suarez. Alcacer was ineffective against Monchengladbach and Barcelona weren’t a threat until Arda entered the game. Alcacer will no doubt develop into a hitman, but for now it should be Arda holding Messi’s place.
-Walcott is still a weapon. As frustrating as Arsenal may underachieve given their talent, you still can’t deny that talent that roams the final third looking for goals. Ozil, Alexis, Iwobi, Cazorla, and Walcott all bring vision and pace. Walcott seems to be the answer for the right side on Wenger’s attack and Arsene seems to be very content placing Alexis as a lone center forward. He is able to float and find space and distribute with deadly accuracy, and Walcott’s goals were the lesson that Basel had to learn. (Small note, due to length purposes. This Gooner defense since Mustafi came doe!? Four goals against Liverpool, Only four goals allowed since in all competitions!)
-Atleti D > Everything on Earth. No seriously, I’m not kidding. Nothing on this earth can penetrate this organized and disciplined Atleti back 4.Two goals allowed all year. That’s it. Barca got one, Bayern didn’t get the other, neither did PSV. The rest of Europe needs to get to the lab and conjure up some equation to figure out this defense. I’m telling you it may not happen. This may be the year Atleti steps up from being runners ups.