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Dublin: 9°C Saturday 15 May 2021

5 things we learned from last night's Champions League action

Man City again flattered to deceive, while Gervinho belatedly proved his worth for Arsenal last night.

Manchester City's Jack Rodwell stands dejected after his mistake led to Borussia Dortmund's first goal.
Manchester City's Jack Rodwell stands dejected after his mistake led to Borussia Dortmund's first goal.

1. Man City are ill-equipped for European football

Despite the 1-1 outcome, Man City were well and truly outplayed for large portions of their encounter with Borussia Dortmund at the Etihad Stadium last night.

Consequently, some people were baffled as to how a team can be so successful in the Premier League, while also consistently looking relatively poor by comparison in Europe.

For most of the match, Man City were unable to cope with the passing and movement of the opposition. The key as to why lies in the makeup of their side – though players such as Yaya Toure and Jack Rodwell can hold their own amid the extreme physicality of the Premier League, when they come up against a team as classy as Dortmund, who possess finesse and sophistication in abundance, they tend to come unstuck.

These deficiencies are exacerbated, of course, when the side’s genuine flair players, such as Samir Nasri and David Silva, underperform.

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2. Gervinho is belatedly beginning to endear himself to Arsenal fans

The Ivory Coast international experienced a below-par first season last year. While he clearly possessed no shortage of skill, his frustratingly regular inability to add end product to his game, meant many Arsenal fans figured he’d likely remain largely on the periphery of the team for the duration of this season.

Nonetheless, Gervinho was fortuitously afforded a second chance, after new signing Olivier Giroud floundered in Arsenal’s opening games.

And so far, the striker has made the most of the faith that Arsene Wenger has placed in him.

After scoring a superb goal against Chelsea at the weekend, he was also impressive as they took on Olympiakos last night, scoring one goal and setting up another, while also demonstrating an admirable work-rate during the 80 minutes he spent on the field, prior to being replaced by Giroud.

Alhough it remains to be seen whether Gervinho can maintain the type of consistency which eluded him last year, he has at least got off to a positive start this time around.

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3. Ronaldo possesses a John Terry-esque ability to excel in spite of personal perils

Football commentators have, in recent times, marveled at how John Terry has been able to play reasonably well throughout the prolonged ordeal in which he has been accused of racism, among other criticisms.

And while Ronaldo’s problems are more ambiguous and presumably not as serious, it hasn’t stopped a media circus erupting, owing to revelations that the Portuguese superstar is unhappy.

But as is the case with Terry, Ronaldo seems somehow able to ignore the issues surrounding him whenever he takes to the field, and Real Madrid’s clash with Ajax was an archetypal case in point.

Ronaldo bagged the 18th hat-trick of his career and first-ever in the Champions League, with the second goal in particular (see below) representing a finish of the highest quality.

Therefore, as Jose Mourinho joked recently, perhaps it’s better that he remains unhappy if it means he continues to produce such exceptional performances.

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4. Eliseu is Spanish football’s answer to Ian Wright

The Portuguese footballer may have little in common with the Arsenal legend upon first glance, particularly given that he’s a winger rather than a striker, yet like Wright, Eliseu has enjoyed an extraordinary footballing journey from relative obscurity to belated stardom.

Wright was only spotted and subsequently signed up by Crystal Palace just before his 22nd birthday, having failed to generate sufficient interest from professional clubs prior to then.

Similarly, for much of his early career, Eliseu was in and out of the starting line-up at Portuguese team Belenenses.

Nevertheless, he gradually established himself in their first team, before moving to Malaga and playing an imp0rtant role in their promotion to Spain’s top division.

He remained with them during the club’s brief acquisition by Sheikh Al Thani and last night, at the relatively ripe age of 29 (in footballing terms at least), he put in a hugely impressive performance on the sport’s biggest stage.

Moreover, Eliseu scored two exquisite goals (see below), as Malaga gained an impressive away win, beating Anderlecht 3-0.

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5. For all their riches, PSG are far from the finished article

As Man City by now know all too well, PSG are swiftly discovering that having significant wealth does not guarantee success in Europe, or domestically for that matter.

This week, they suffered a lacklustre 1-0 loss to Porto, while they currently only sit second in the French league – the same position in which they finished last year.

Moreover, one of their most recent star signings, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was disappointingly profligate, passing up two great chances to score despite his team’s unconvincing display.

And nor was the loss, prompted by a late James Rodríguez goal, anything less than the French side deserved.

As Porto coach Vitor Pereira pointed out: “We passed the ball around, set the match’s tempo and created plenty of chances with a lot of quality in attack and consistency at the back.

“James’s goal brought justice to the scoreline.”

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Read: Champions League wrap: Gunners sink Olympiakos to maintain 100% record>

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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