The Champions League is back, and the marquee game of the day certainly did not disappoint. Juventus grabbed an early lead, Gonzalo Higuain getting free on a free kick and hitting a really nice finish in the bottom corner. Higuain then doubled Juve’s lead not 10 mins in, converting a penalty kick after Ben Davies fouled Federico Bernardeschi in the box. Juventus seemed to have Tottenham on the run, but then dropped off and allowed Spurs back in the game. Tottenham grabbed a goal in the 35th minute, and it was who else but Harry Kane, who was played through on a nice pass by Dele Alli, and then Kane rounded Gigi Buffon and put the ball in the net. Higuain the missed a penalty Juve earned right before the break. This proved to be big, as Tottenham grabbed an equalizer in the second half on a free kick by Christian Eriksen. Tottenham had a nice comeback, and will feel good about the result. Juventus will have to be disappointed, and will have to examine how they got overrun in the midfield after starting the game so well. This result sets up a fascinating second leg at Wembley next month.
The second game of the day was a lot less dramatic, as Manchester City strolled to a 4-0 win at Basel. Each City goal was impressive, with two by Ilkay Gundogan, one by Bernando Silva, and one for Sergio Aguero. In particular it’s nice for City to have Gundogan contributing after his injury issues, and City also welcomed back Leroy Sane, who had been dealing with injury issues of his own. With Manchester City firing on all cylinders, and traditional powers like Real Madrid not being at their normal level, Manchester City could be set for a deep run in the Champions League this year.
D.C. United continued to try and revamp their attack by picking up winger Yamil Asad from Atlanta United. They acquired him from Atlanta United for at least $500,000 over two years. Asad was a good contributor last year for Atlanta, and will look to boost a D.C. United attack that was near the bottom of the league last year. Bobby Warshaw of MLSsoccer.com looks at all the different ways DC United can use Asad next year.
Here in the U.S. it is Black History Month, and this is a perfect time to look at one of the dark parts of soccer in Europe that just does not seem to go away, and that is racist acts directed at black players in Europe. Sometimes by other players, but usually the worst cases are by fans toward players. Monkey chants, bananas thrown on the field, truly vile things that its hard to believe still happen in this day and age. One of the worst and most memorable modern examples was a Barcelona vs. Real Zaragoza game in 2006. Samuel Eto’o had been racially abused by Zaragoza fans the year before, and the club was hit with a laughable 600 euro fine, which clearly did nothing to stop the abuse. Eto’o was hit with racist abuse all game until in the 77th minute Eto’o said the now famous phrase “no mas,” and attempted to leave the field in protest of how he was being treated. After a lengthy discussion, Eto’o decided to stay in the game. But it’s worth looking at what happened and how things can change. Is a man’s dignity less important than finishing a game at all costs? Why are FIFA and so many domestic organizations unwilling to enforce stricter penalties for racist abuse? These questions and more need to be answered and fixed so the scourge of racism can finally be banished from our game, and from society in general.
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