Oct 22, 2008

The Wednesday Wrap: Juve Rejuvenated (Bayern, Lyon too)

Juventus went a long way toward reversing a slow start to their season, beating Soccer Source No. 2-ranked Real Madrid 2-1 yesterday (Juve are 13th. Yeah they'll move up). Alessandro Del Piero got a lovely goal in the fifth minute and Claudio Ranieri's side scored another before Real started to mount a comeback (they came close too. After Ruud van Nistelrooy got one back in the 66th the post was all that stood in the way of a Rafael van der Vaart equalizer late in the game). The win reverses a five-game winless streak for Juve (five game winless streak? How did they only fall to 13? The ranking committee may have some explaining to do there).

Elsewhere, three games saw 25 goals between them (that's more than eight a game, for those of you doing the math). Villareal (No. 6) got a sloppy 6-3 victory over Aalborg, No. 12 Lyon won 5-3 at Steaua Bucharest after being down 2-0 early and 3-2 at the half (this vindicates the ranking committee's decision to drop Steaua from the Top 25 a few weeks ago) and No. 11 Arsenal won 5-2 at Fenerbahce.

We told you Dynamo Kiev was good. The Ukranian side's exploits have them solidly in the Top 25 (15th at last count. Is a top 10 in the bidding? Probably not this week. But who knows). What are these exploits? The 1-0 win at Porto yesterday was just the most recent one (Porto are not a top 25 side this year). We're talking about a team (Kiev) that given up one (1) goal since mid-August--the solitary goal came in the Champs League game with Arsenal on Sept. 17.

Back to the rejuvenation theme mentioned in the header, Bayern Munich (No. 23) booked a solid 3-0 victory over Fiorentina (at No. 17 a team that actually was ahead of them in the Top 25). The Bavarian club has had a very choppy start to the season--at least domestically. They're unbeaten in the Champions League. But Jurgen Klinsmann's side is now quietly unbeaten in four games in all competition. They host Wolfsburg Saturday and will be expected to continue this streak at the very least. Fiorentina, meanwhile, are in trouble. With two points from three games they sit third, three points behind Lyon. But there's still time and we're not quite willing to write off Steaua Bucharest altogether. Yeah they only have one point from three games, but they can play with these teams and who knows maybe things will turn in their favor (though let's face it; probably not).

Finally, how about BATE Borisov? The Belarusian side are also in the Top 25 (barely, at No. 25) but drew No. 20 Zenit St. Petersburg 1-1. A disappointing draw for St. Pete, who will need to produce some stellar results in the last three games to make it out of this group (they're dead last, five points behind second-placed Real Madrid). After all this, Zenit may not even get a chance to defend their UEFA Cup championship. But there's still time. The Russian side did well against Real and Juve and were unlucky to lose the former game in particular. Still, you can't help but be a little disappointed by this most recent result by the team from the city formerly known as Leningrad.

Oh yeah, Man United (No. 3) scored two offside goals and one legitimate one to beat No. 18 Celtic by 3-0. Celtic look to be playing for a UEFA Cup spot at this point. They're tied for last with Aalborg on one point. Man U. and Villareal have seven.

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