Week Three Breaks the Stalemate in Champions League Group B
Leading up to the third week of play there was stalemate in Champions League Group B 2015 – 2016, with each of the team’s on exactly the same number of points. In week one, Wolfsburg beat CSKA Moscow 1-0 and PSV Eindhoven topped Manchester United 2-1. In week two, however, Man United bounced back with a 2-1 win against Wolfsburg and PSV Eindhoven crumpled in a 2-3 loss against CSKA Moscow. Those outcomes left each team in Group B with three points in the standings and goal difference tallies at zero. PSV Eindhoven technically had the edge, since they’d scored the most goals (four) across the first two fixtures, but for all intents and purposes, Group B was anyone’s game.
Week three of 2015 – 2016 Champions League competition officially breaks the stalemate in Group B—at least for now. The matches played on October 21st saw Wolfsburg pulling ahead with a 2-0 home win against PSV. CSKA Moscow and Manchester United, meanwhile, played a soccer match that ended in a 1-1 draw.
Still Anyone’s Game?
Those stats leave Wolfsburg in the lead with two games won and one game lost, for a point total of six and a goal difference of +2. Man United and CSKA Moscow are essentially tied for second, each having four points in the standings and each having a GD of zero after having scored and conceded the same number of goals (four apiece). PSV Eindhoven, finally, bring up the rear with three points and a goal difference of -2.
Although Wolfsburg are emerging as the frontrunners in Group B, the top two spots in this group are still wide open. All four football clubs have shown moments of strength and weakness throughout the group stage so far, and it’s unclear at this point which team is strongest.
Manchester United: The Team to Watch
Manchester United, in particular, might be the team to watch in Group B. Louis van Gaal’s soccer squad has been fascinatingly inconsistent this season, alternating between big, effortless wins and nearly incompetent losses. The football club’s last two matches in the Premier League epitomize both of these sides. On October 17th, they came away with a 3-0 victory against Everton, despite trailing behind the Toffees in terms of possession time. On October 4th, though, United looked clueless against Arsenal, conceding three goals in the first 20 minutes to lose the football match 0-3.
Both sides of the coin were also on display as United took on CSKA Moscow on Wednesday. The Red Devils were the better side throughout the majority of the match—especially in the second half when their momentum should have led to a victory. But an early-game mistake from the young Anthony Martial left the Red Devils playing catch-up in the game and ultimately cost them three points in Group B.
At the 15-minute mark, Martial got called for a handball after an ill-advised challenge of CSKA’s Mario Fernandes. The mistake earned the Moscow hosts a penalty shot, and while United goalkeeper David De Gea blocked the initial attempt from Roman Eremenko, Seydou Doumbia was there to grab the rebound and put the ball into the goal.
Van Gaal would later criticize Martial for the “stupid reaction” that allowed CSKA Moscow to take an early lead. Luckily, the 19-year-old Martial got a chance to redeem himself at the 65-minute mark, when he headed an assist from Antonio Valencia into the goal.
The point put Manchester back in the game and saved Martial from having to shoulder the blame for a loss. Ultimately, though, the Red Devils couldn’t capitalize on their strong second half or dominant possession (which neared 70-30 territory) to ever pull in front. The match ended 1-1.
Which Group B teams do you think will progress to the round of 16? Will the wearers of the Wolfsburg jersey 2015 – 2016 continue leading the way in the group, now that they’ve broken the stalemate? Will Manchester United avoid “stupid” mistakes in the future to finally realize their full potential? Are PSV Eindhoven still in the race? At Soccer Box, we want to hear your predictions! Find us on social media to share your thoughts, whether on Twitter, Pinterest, or Google +.