Giant Killers! I'd never write off the current Spanish, Italian, or Portuguese champions, but these are some fantastic results for Roma, 'Pool, and Schalke, respectively. Here are some initial reactions to this CL matchday (heavily skewed towards Roma vs. Madrid and Liverpool vs. Inter).
The AS Roma vs. Real Madrid game, as I predicted, was the standout tie of the round. Back and forth stuff, lots of drama, and the most goals of the four. What I didn't predict was the result, though. In hindsight, Roma did have home field, which counts for a lot. Totti may have not been on the scoresheet, but he dominated the play and his pass to Mancini for the winner was sheer quality. Have to give kudos to Juan and Mexes, though; barring Raul's hockey-flick goal, they frustrated the Madrid attack all game. Ruud looked irritated enough to sucker punch someone every time the camera was on him. Los Blancos were quite unlucky when that last ditch attack ended with a resounding shot off the post (still not sure who it was), but Roma were the better side all day. That doesn't mean I don't think Madrid will still take this one, though. The Bernabeu is no joke. (Also, can we talk about how fat David Pizarro is? People like to joke about Ronaldo and Lampard, but this man is actually fat. Watching him make runs into the box is like watching me throw a six-pound bowling ball as hard as I can.)
I'll just start by saying that Torres took a dive. Plain and simple. But you really can't say that Materazzi didn't have it coming after all his years of cunning and dirty play. Though it was completely unwarranted, there was a sense of karmic justice in his second yellow. Initially, though, it didn't seem to help Liverpool much as they enjoyed more possession but found Inter well-organized at the back. The whole game was a complete snorefest until the last five minutes. Watching Rafa Benitez clip his toenails would have been more interesting. Of course, then Kuyt made up for his crap performance with a brilliant goal, and Gerrard finished things in style by scoring one of his trademark impossible goals from distance. This one wasn't as thunderous as some, but it was one of the most ridiculously accurate shots I've ever seen. What have I (re)learned? Never bet against Liverpool in the Champions League. Oh, and NEVER bet on Inter in the CL. Ever.
And the other two...
Chelsea are so incredibly boring, especially on the road. They might as well park the team bus in front of their goal, though, because then opponents might have a better chance scoring. Talk about well-organized defending. I think Ben's prediction is going to turn out exactly right.
As for the Schalke shocker, I'm really not sure what to say except that everyone, including myself, was wrong. Hey, these things happen. Now, I'll wish them the best of luck trying to defend that lead in Porto.
Arsene Wenger cobbled together starting lineups with spit and duct tape and Denilson and somehow the team dragged its ass over the finish line in third or fourth.