Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League fixture list was entertaining and surprising to many. The night started with a tense 1-1 draw between Sevilla and Salzburg as well as a late winner over American Jordan Siebatcheu Pefok to take on BSC Young Boys against Manchester United. The latest fixture list saw two 3-0 finishes with Bayern Munich leading Barcelona and Juventus sending Malmö. Meanwhile, Villareal and Atalanta played a 2-2 high octane draw, with a Robin Gosens goal in the 83 ′ that saved points for La Dea. In total, we saw four draws, 16 goals and four red cards. We are going to have fun.
Photo of Aurélien Meunier – PSG / PSG via.
Lionel Messi makes UCL debut for Paris Saint-Germain
Photo of liewig christian / Corbis via.
Liverpool face AC Milan in UCL for the first time since the 2007 final
The last two times these teams met were the biggest games of the season for club football. In 2005, it was the miracle of Istanbul that saw Liverpool score three goals in seven minutes to tie a penalty shoot-out. The Reds came out with their fifth trophy that night. AC Milan’s revenge came two years later to Athens who won the cup thanks to two goals from Filippo Inzaghi. Since that night, the two clubs have faced each other in a single ICC match – one in Charlotte in 2014 and one in Santa Clara, Calif. In 2016. Both matches resulted in 2-0 victories in Liverpool, but you can’t make the argument that the parties were pressured to try. While there won’t be as much pressure in these next two games as they did in their last two, it’s always nice to see the two teams face off again.
Photo de Mika Volkmann/.
Two Bundesliga teams start their seasons at UCL
If there has ever been a moment to pity RB Leipzig, it might be now. Not only do they draw the worst group possible, but they have the pain of traveling to the Etihad to face Manchester City in their first game. Considering that the other teams in Group A are Paris Saint-Germain and Club Brugge, to say that it would be difficult for them to come out of the group would be an understatement. With a battered backline and an attacking squad that just can’t seem to start, it’s hard to see them take points at this one.
Borussia Dortmund have an easier group ahead of them – a group they have a good chance of winning. Although we’ll talk about Sporting Lisbon and Ajax later, their first away game for Besiktas can be a challenge from a crowd perspective. When it comes to playing on the pitch, teams are in similar positions. Dortmund have nine points and sit third in the Bundesliga while Besiktas’ ten points are good to be first in the Turkish SuperLig. The bulk of BVB’s goals so far have fallen at the feet and heads of Erling Haaland – who leads the team in goals (5) and assists (3). Besiktas doesn’t have such a prolific goalscorer – or nearly as many goals – but his bottom line is solid and his attacking core of Michy Batshuayi and Cyle Larin could pose problems for Dortmund.
Three little birds must find another threshold to sit down
There is therefore a link between the Dutch club Ajax and the song of Bob Marley “Three Little Birds”. After hearing it in 2008 at a preseason game in Cardiff where fans sang it, the song became something of a club anthem. Marley was passionate about football and the club itself created a bond with the Marley family, making it a happy partnership. To celebrate, the club’s away jersey this season was adorned with Rastafarian colors on the sleeves and Adidas stripes. But, more importantly, on the back of the necklace were three birds perched on top of three St. Andrew’s crosses – the most prominent feature on the coat of arms and flag of the city of Amsterdam (below from of the 2019 UCL semi-finals).
Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS /. via.
Although this may be an identifying symbol of the city, for some reason according to UEFA, it does not comply with their regulations. These state that the rear collar “may only contain team identification” and that it “must be free of any manufacturer identification or sponsor advertising”. Specifically to Ajax, UEFA issued a statement:
“The three birds being a tribute to Bob Marley’s song do not represent Ajax team identification as stated in Article 13 of the Equipment Regulations. Therefore, the display of birds with crosses has not been approved for UEFA competitions. “
So this means that team symbols like the devil’s trident in the Manchester United crest, or nicknames like The Blues, or slogans like “Mia San Mia” can all be affixed to the back collar as they are identify directly to the club. The Bayern Munich away shirt features the Münchner Kindl on the collar and has been accepted by UEFA as it has been taken from the coat of arms. This ignores the fact that all three St. Andrews crosses have already been featured on the backs of Ajax shirts.
In the end, these are the three little birds that UEFA has problems with. Ajax, after being briefed on this position, decided not to… Stir… with the governing body and simply removed the shirt symbol. It’s not like we see an… exodus… of angry Ajax supporters marching towards the UEFA headquarters, and if they want to see a change they will have to… get up, get up … otherwise they will be… waiting in vain. Instead, they will be… Jamming… in the far end of Estádio José Alvalade when Ajax take on Sporting Lisbon.
If you thought all of those puns were bad, please know that I could have – and maybe should have – tried an I Shot the Sheriff reference given our next story.
Photo de Nick Potts/PA Images via .
There’s a new sheriff in town: Moldova plays UCL for the first time
I never knew about the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic aka Transnistria. Transnistria is an unrecognized separatist state on the border between Moldova and Ukraine, according to a quick Wikipedia search. Internationally, no country recognized by the UN considers Transnistria to be a state and most of the people who live there have Moldovan nationality.
Why am I talking about Transnistria? Because in Transnistria there is a company that dominates the trade there known as the sheriff. Yes, in case you were wondering, their corporate symbol is a sheriff badge like the one from the 1800s in the American West. In 1998, the sheriff bought a football team in the Transnistrian capital Tiraspol, which is also the second largest city in Moldova.
And that’s how we get here: FC Sheriff Tiraspol are playing the UEFA Champions League for the first time and are the first Moldova team to take part in the continent’s biggest competition. It took them a long time to get here – they had to go through four rounds of qualifying to qualify for the group stages.
Their first qualifying round saw them beat Albanian team Teuta 5-0 in two sets. The second round yielded similar results with a 4-1 aggregate victory over Armenian side FC Alashkert. Then they had to face Serbian champions Red Star. The first match in Belgrade ended in a 1-1 draw. The return leg in Tiraspol saw a goal scored in stoppage time in the first half. That was all they needed to qualify for the final qualifying round where they faced another Balkan power on the Croatian side of Dinamo Zagreb. At home in the first leg, Sheriff scored three goals without dropping any. They kept the game 0-0 in Zagreb to advance to the group stage.
Being from a country that is not known to produce footballers (Moldova has not appeared in a major tournament), Sheriff has a fairly international team. Only four Moldovans are on the list and a few more from traditionally Slavic countries. The majority of the players come either from Africa (two Malians, a Malawian, an Ivorian, a Guinean and a Ghanaian) or from the Americas (three Brazilians, two Colombians, a Peruvian and a Trinidadian). Of the 13 goals scored in their qualifying campaign, all but two were scored by someone from Africa or the Americas. Their top scorer of this stage – with four – was Malian Adama Traoré. Fun fact, according to a brief Wikipedia research, there are five active footballers named Adama Traore. Who would have known?
Here is the list of games for today (every hour in Eastern US)
Besiktas JK c. Borussia Dortmund (Besiktas Park) [Vodafone Park] – Besiktas, Istanbul, TUR) Sheriff Tiraspol c. Shakhtar Donetsk (Bolshaya Sportivnaya Arena – Tiraspol, Transnistrie [Moldova])
Atlético Madrid against FC Porto (Metropolitan Stadium [Wanda Metropolitano] – Madrid, ESP) Club Brugge v Paris Saint-Germain (Janbreydelstadion – Brugge, West Flanders, BEL) Internazionale Milan v Real Madrid CF (San Siro – Milan, ITA) Liverpool v AC Milan (Anfield – Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom ) Manchester City v. RB Leipzig (City of Manchester Stadium [Etihad Stadium] – Manchester, United Kingdom) Sporting CP v. Ajax (Estádio José Alvalade – Lisbon, POR)