WHAT WE LEARNED: Dominant defences, sloppy City and simple Serie A

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Raheem Sterling celebrates his winner on an up and down night for City at Schalke. (AFP)
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Updated 21 February 2019

WHAT WE LEARNED: Dominant defences, sloppy City and simple Serie A

  • Defences dominated free-scoring attacks on Tuesday.
  • Juventus finding life far more tough in Europe than at home.

All the Champions League second round first-leg matches are done and dusted so what better time to look back at the latest clashes and reveal what we learned from the titanic tussles…

DEFENCE BACK IN VOGUE

Who would have predicted that Tuesday night’s two clashes would return the miserly total of zero goals? If you say yes, there is a good chance you are either lying or able to see into the future. Liverpool (minus Virgil van Djik), Bayern Munich and Barcelona are all much better going forward than trying to keep a cleansheet and goals were surely guaranteed. But in both matches — Liverpool at home to Bayern, and Barca away at Lyon — the backlines held firm and Bayern’s performance in particular illustrated a defensive discipline that has been deemed out of fashion the past few seasons. The fullbacks Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba rarely went beyond the halfway line and Mats Hummels was immense in the middle. Likewise the Reds without their defensive rock also looked resolute and solid with their makeshift backline. Over the past few years the top teams, especially in Europe, have generally thrown caution to the wind. Tuesday’s matches were a bit of a throwback, but no less entertaining or enthralling for it.

The disciplined performance of David Alaba typified Bayern's match at Liverpool. (AFP) 

JUVE FINDING SERIE A TOO EASY?

The Turin club are once again strolling toward another domestic title. They are unbeaten and a mammoth 13 points ahead of second-placed Napoli, their eighth consecutive title is all but assured. In Europe, however, it is a different story as Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid illustrated. Already this season they have lost three of their seven Champions League matches and on now face a huge task to overturn the deficit in Turin on March 12. In four full seasons at Juventus, Massimiliano Allegri has led his team to four successive league and cup doubles and two Champions League finals. But he was out-thought by Atletico counterpart Diego Simeone. Of the result the Juve boss simply said “these things happen” but added: “They are more used playing games of this type than us” a tacit admission that the Spaniards face tougher games in La Liga than Juve do while strolling to wins week after week in Italy.

Ronaldo and Juve are coasting to yet another Serie A title but it's a different story in the Champions League. (AFP) 

CITY’S INCONSISTENCY CLEAR TO SEE

Before the turn of the year Manchester City lost in the Premier League to Crystal Palace and Leicester City and followed that up in January with a shock loss at Newcastle. For the first time in 18 months, domestically at least, you could no longer assume the Abu Dhabi-owned club would turn up, strut their stuff and claim an easy victory. In Europe so far this season they have only lost once in seven matches, on the face of it no problem. But the defeat at Lyon before the new year has been followed up with Wednesday’s last-gasp 3-2 win at Schalke, again, on the face of it OK, but worrying signs are there. The German outfit may lie 14th in the Bundesliga but for long periods looked more than a match for Pep Guardiola’s side — albeit one down to 10 men from the 69th minute. City could well win the second-leg in a similar manner to their 6-0 win over Chelsea in the league, but this match as much as anything will have perfectionist Guardiola worried. It was not for nothing that he said after the win: “we are still not ready to fight for the latter stages.”

City found the going tough against a resolute Schalke. (AFP)


Police investigate $615,000 burglary at home of Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez

Updated 31 May 2020

Police investigate $615,000 burglary at home of Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez

  • Three watches worth more than £300,000 were taken
  • Cartier bracelets and rare football shirts worth nearly £150,000 also robbed

LONDON: Police are investigating after £500,000 ($617,000) worth of items were stolen in a burglary at the penthouse apartment of Manchester City player Riyad Mahrez.

Three watches worth more than £300,000 were taken along with £50,000 in cash, as well as Cartier bracelets and rare football shirts worth nearly £150,000, according to The Sun newspaper.

The Algerian international was not at home when the intruders used a key fob to access his apartment and three others in the Manchester city-center building on April 24.

A letter from building management sent to residents, seen by The Sun, informed residents of the apartment block about the break-ins and said “the (key) fob in question is now in our possession, has been fully deactivated and cannot be used again.”

A Greater Manchester Police spokesperson said: "At around 5pm on Friday April 24, police were called to reports that four separate apartments had been burgled at a city-center block." 

Mahrez and Manchester City have declined to comment on the incident.It is not the first burglary involving a Premier League player in 2020.Earlier in May,

Tottenham and England striker Dele Alli was attacked by burglars entering his home while he was with his girlfriend and brother, during which they stole watches and jewelery.

And the family of his teammate at Tottenham, Jan Vertonghen, were burgled at knifepoint in March while he was in Germany on Champions League duty for his club against Red Bull Leipzig.