As we reach the half-way stage in the Group matches, a time for retrospection appears on the horizon. TheHardTackle presents five of the most exhilarating matches so far in this year’s Champions League.

Barcelona 2 a�� 2 AC Milan

Dubbed as the clash of Group H, this match saw present Champions, Barcelona, take on the Italian Champions, Milan, at Camp Nou. Milan were bracing for a storm in this match, as they were ravaged due to injuries to key members. Ibrahimovica��s injury just before this match did not help the Rossoneri either. But with their available resources, Milan took on Barcelona and the rest they say is history.

Pato scored the fifth fastest goal in Champions League history as the Spaniards were pegged back within 30 seconds into the match. The drawback of having a makeshift center-back pair was showing and Pato took full advantage of it. Blazing past Mascherano, The Duck coolly slotted the ball under a rushing Valdes. Stung so early in the game, Barcelona fought their way back into the match and tied the proceedings via a Pedro goal as both the teams entered the tunnel with one goal apiece at half-time. A superbly taken Villa free kick gave the lead to Barcelona, and for a longer period of the match, it looked the Spaniards will claim full points. A superb defensive display from the veteran Nesta even left Messi thumping the ground in frustration.

The incredible game saw a late twist as Thiago Silva scored in the dying moments of the match to give Milan a share of the spoils. Someone correctly said “The first and the last minutes of the match belonged to the two Brazilians; the rest of the time Messi tried his tricks against Nesta and co.

Bayern Munich 2 a�� 0 Manchester City

Manchester City were then the all-conquering force in England, slaying every team that dared to cross swords with them. Playing against Bayern in the Allianz Arena is always a daunting task for any visiting team and Manchester City only proved this notion. The trio of Silva, Nasri and Dzeko were eager to defeat Bayern and become the only second English club after Norwich to defeat the Germans in their own backyard in the last 16 attempts.

For a good half an hour, City were the team to watch as attacks after attacks slashed against the Bayern defense. Slowly and surely, Bayern clawed their way back into the match. The trio of Ribery, Schweinsteiger and Muller were creating all sorts of trouble for the City back-line and Gomez capitalized on Harta��s error to tuck the ball into the net and give Bayern a deserved lead. As the match neared the end of the first half, Gomez scored once more, making Hart pay for his inability to catch the ball.

This match not only proved the rising power of Bayern as a force to reckon with on the European front, but also showed the world a dark side of Tevez. Having fallen down in the pecking order, Tevez was obviously frustrated not to be a part of the first team, but his refusal to take the field when asked by his manager only set the tongues wagging. A dark chapter has begun in the life of Tevez after that incident, and we can only speculate what the future will hold for this superstar.

CSKA Moscow 2 a�� 3 Internazionale

Internazioanale is already doing their annual merry-go-round with the managerial post, and the latest one to see the door was none other than Gasperini. Much was said about his 3-4-3 system and how it will revolutionize the way Inter played. Alas, like his predecessors, Gasperini was replaced pretty early in the season after a disappointing run, both on the domestic and on the European front.

Till then, Internazioanle had managed to lose a home game against the Champions League newbies, Trabzonspor; that too, at a fortress known as San Siro. On the other hand, CSKA was coming off a hard-fought draw against Lille. As the two teams clashed at Luzhniki Stadium, more than three points were on the mind of both the teams. Inter began as the more attacking side, as Lucio netted the opener as early as in the 6th minute.

Pazzini doubled the lead and for a while it looked that Ranieri, the new Inter coach, was going to continue his winning start as manager. But CSKA is not a team which can be neglected at any costs. After the opener from Dzagoev, Brazilian striker Love brought the game back into level pegging. For a while it looked like Inter were back to square one and they will come out with a draw. But then, Zarate won the game for Inter and Ranieri breathed a sigh of relief as Inter somehow managed to win their first match this season in Europe.

Real Madrid 3 a�� 0 Ajax Amsterdam

Real, under their Galactico 2.0 program, had threatened to take the world by storm, but had fallen short on the European front. In the form of Kaka, Ronaldo, Alonso and Ozil, the team possessed some of the best players in the world, but somehow Mourinho was not able to involve Kaka into his mix before this match. In their previous match against Zagreb, they managed to come away with a 1-0 victory and also a red card to one of their key players a�� Marcelo.

As the match started against the past masters of Total Football, Mourinho was more than eager to stamp the authority of Real for real in this yeara��s Champions League. A scintillating display of attacking and possession football was to follow in one of the most memorable nights at the Santiago Bernabeu. The ball was set rolling by the first goal of the match, which saw five players exchanging 11 touches inside 16 seconds before the ball bulged the back of the net. An orgasmic goal, which set the pattern for the night as the pulses raced through not only the players on the pitch but also the fans in the crowd.

The second goal saw possession football at its very best. A staggering 42 passes were exchanged among a plethora of players, which finally ended with Kaka scoring with his left foot. This was Reala��s version of tiki-taka, branded under the man who despises Barcelona the most a�� Mourinho. Kakaa��s jubilation after scoring the goal not only came as a sigh of relief to Real, but also served as a warning to the other teams to watch out, as the former Milan hero is slowly returning to his destructive best. The match ended 3-0 in favor of the hosts.

Napoli 1 a�� 1 Bayern Munich

Billed as the a�?Group of Deatha��, Group A has not only three of the biggest teams in Europe, but also a Spanish side that can cause all sorts of troubles on their day. The Yellow Submarines have not won any of their matches so far and the fight for the top two is now limited to the three heavyweights a�� Bayern, Napoli and Man City. San Paolo witnessed an epic battle, which finally saw Bayern conceding a goal in Europe.

The match witnessed an opening storm from Bayern, in which Kroos netted the opener in the 2nd minute itself. Napoli has been on the rise on the domestic front, and it was visible as Cavani, Lavezzi and Hamsik made life difficult for the Bavarian giants. Bayerna��s infallible defense finally leaked in a goal when Badstuber scored an own goal as a result of a Maggio cross. Bayern were not shaken and definitely not stirred.

However, the contest between the Italian powerhouse and one of the best teams in Europe tilted more towards the favor of the visiting team as the match wore on. Bayern had a chance to finish off the game but Gomez missed a penalty and the Italians saw off the match from there. In the end, Bayern had as many as 15 shots as compared to Napolia��s 3. At the half-way stage of the Group matches, the difference between the top three teams in Group A is a mere 2 points, which speaks volumes about the long battles about to come.

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2 Responses to “High Five : Top Five Matches In UEFA Champions League So Far”

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  1. Cena says:

    “Milan took on Barcelona and the rest they say is history.”
    For heaven’s sake, it’s a DRAW and fans behave as if Milan have won the UCL… OMG !!!
    Do you really mean that a 2-2 draw in the first round of UCL is HISTORY ???

  2. Ammad says:

    Milan-Barca the best one in terms of contest and the quality on the pitch……2ndly Napoli-bayern…