5️⃣ things we learned from Wednesday's Champions League action | OneFootball

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Emily Wilson·29 November 2023

5️⃣ things we learned from Wednesday's Champions League action

Article image:5️⃣ things we learned from Wednesday's Champions League action

More Champions League drama continued on Wednesday, with big results across Europe as we get down to the nitty-gritty.

Here are five key talking points.

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You’re only as good as your weakest link

Article image:5️⃣ things we learned from Wednesday's Champions League action

Just 18 minutes into Manchester United’s trip to Istanbul, it seemed they maybe, maybe, had a chance to pull this off in front of one of Europe’s fiercest crowds.

And although we understand football is a team sport, their second-half collapse unfortunately falls on the shoulders of one player: Andre Onana.

The goalkeeper made three huge mistakes against Galatasaray and now has the most errors leading to goals in the competition since 2018-19 (seven).

His poor performance means United have conceded three or more goals in four out of five Champions League games this season.

A staggering 14 goals have beaten Onana in the competition this season, only one less than the worst tally (Antwerp, 15). It’s also now 33 goals conceded across their opening 20 matches in all competitions, their most in over 60 years.

And they still have to face Harry Kane’s Bayern Munich one more time, who would naturally be the ghost to condemn them to no European football after the holidays.

Personality on full display

Article image:5️⃣ things we learned from Wednesday's Champions League action

If you’re an Arsenal fan, we’re sure you’re still smiling after that 6-0 performance against Lens.

Mikel Arteta’s side felt the heat before kickoff after PSV Eindhoven’s earlier win, but pulled out all the stops in front of home fans to breeze past the opposition.

A staggering five goals found the net in the opening 45 minutes – each scored by a different player. Such a feat wrote them into the Champions League record books, becoming the first-ever side to do so.

Arsenal now have 15 goals this season with one group-stage match still to go. That’s tied for the most in the Champions League so far, alongside Atlético de Madrid and Manchester City.

The one downfall will be they only scored one in the second half (Jorginho the sixth player on the sheet), but Wednesday’s first-half demolition showed the brilliance of Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka, in particular.

It’s no wonder teams ‘park the bus’ against the Gunners. The question is, can they repeat such fluid football later in the season?

Opportunities missed

Article image:5️⃣ things we learned from Wednesday's Champions League action

Two Italian heavyweights fell short of what would’ve been huge opportunities for their Round of 16 hopes.

Inter may still be kicking themselves after falling short in last year’s Champions League final – but they haven’t done themselves any favours this year either in a group they should have dominated on paper.

Facing bottom-side Benfica in Portugal (who only one goal to their name and zero points), the Serie A giants shockingly went down by three within 30 minutes. And despite a second-half comeback, it wasn’t enough to come out victorious.

Meanwhile, Napoli also missed an opportunity after failing to punish Real Madrid.

Walter Mazzarri’s men took a stunning lead inside the Santiago Bernabéu within less than 10 minutes but conceded seconds later. They later scored an equaliser for 2-2 immediately after the restart and it would’ve been a clutch draw.

Yet they stepped off the gas and allowed a 19-year-old Nico Paz to score his first senior goal from range out of nowhere before Joselu wrapped up Madrid’s win.

The two results mean Inter now battle Real Sociedad for top spot on the final day, while Napoli could miss out on the knockouts altogether if they lose to Braga by 2+ goals.

Oh, how quickly things can change

Article image:5️⃣ things we learned from Wednesday's Champions League action

We can’t help but wonder what has gone wrong at Sevilla.

The LaLiga side were 30 minutes away from their first win in the competition this season and also just their second win under manager Diego Alonso across all competitions (four draws, four losses, one win).

That was until they imploded.

Lucas Ocampos was sent off, an own-goal eventually turned the game 2-2 and then, in the final seconds, Ricardo Pepi silenced the home fans with a winning header.

It’s a puzzling situation for the Spaniards, given they have one of the most daunting stadiums and know how to perform in Europe. It’s only been 182 days since they lifted the Europa League title for a record-extending seventh time.

Sergio Ramos will not have expected his sensational return to turn out this way and Sevilla wait until the final day to find out if they’re out of the running for European silverware altogether.

That’s in addition to sitting 15th in LaLiga and already losing the UEFA Super Cup to Manchester City earlier this season.

Predicting a winner is anyone’s guess

Article image:5️⃣ things we learned from Wednesday's Champions League action

The knockout rounds are almost set as we prepare to learn the final 16 teams in the running for this year’s title.

Looking ahead to Matchday Six, four spots are still available, with Copenhagen, Galatasaray, Manchester United, Napoli, Braga, Paris-Saint Germain, Newcastle, Milan, Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk all needing to decide their fate on the final day.

And peeking even further down the line, nobody has genuinely looked worthy enough of winning it all come June. So it’s truly anyone’s guess.

Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and holders Manchester City, aren’t as ruthless as they can be, Arsenal and Atlético Madrid await true tests, Barcelona and Inter are shaky, while the Group of Death is upside down.

Who do you think will go all the way at Wembley?