Good morning, Fear the Wall.
Yesterday was an absolutely fascinating day in the Champions League, especially within Group B, or “El Grupo de Muerte” as I’m being told they call it in Germany. This group consists of Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter Milan, and the Bundesliga’s very own Borussia Mönchengladbach. Just looking at those four clubs, you would think that, at the very least, Real Madrid would be a shoe-in, Inter Milan would be favorites to win the second spot, Borussia Mönchengladbach would have a fighting chance, and Shakhtar Donetsk would basically be the doormat that the three remaining clubs wipe their feet on before determining who really makes it into the Champions League. This is why it was such a surprise when, at around 3 pm yesterday, the table was looking like this:
It really looked like Borussia Mönchengladbach and Shakhtar Donetsk, the group’s two “minnows”, would have a serious shot at knocking out both Real Madrid and Inter Milan from the Champions League. Shakhtar Donetsk beat Real Madrid 2-0 in the early hours of the day, prompting an endless outpouring of memes.
All Gladbach needed to do was to either beat or draw Inter Milan to knock the Italians out of the Champions League. Unfortunately, for what feels like the millionth time this season, Gladbach blew their chance against one of their main rivals in Group B. It’s actually only the third time; the Foals drew both Real Madrid and Inter Milan, with both matches featuring painful 90th minute equalizers. Yesterday, Gladbach once against dropped points, this time all three, to Inter Milan.
The most controversial moment of the match involved a VAR decision. Gladbach were trailing 3-2 in the final minutes of the match, and Alassane Pléa took something of a speculative shot from distance. It wiggled its way through a maze of players and into the net, with Samir Handanovic not even nudging towards it. At first, it looked like a good goal, but eventually the goal was called back on an offside call - not because there was an offsides flag in the buildup, or because the ball was deflected by someone offside,
Alassane Plea's hat trick is denied by VAR because Breel Embolo was offside. pic.twitter.com/8hPeSM4ds2— DAZN Canada (@DAZN_CA) December 1, 2020
So Breel Embolo didn’t touch the ball. In fact, he even tried to get out of the way of the shot, but the referee nevertheless ruled that because Embolo was within the peripheral vision of Handanovic, and in an offside position, that he was disrupting the play. According to the letter of the law I suppose it’s the correct call, but I do sympathize with Gladbach fans who feel hard done by it.
Raphael Guerreiro Returns to Training
When Borussia Dortmund lost 2-1 to Cologne over the weekend, one of the notable absences of the squad that may have had something to do with it was Raphael Guerreiro. Guerreiro suffered a minor thigh strain during training last week. Luckily, by most reports, he’s back to full health and is training with the squad, and should be fully fit for today’s match.
The Daily Buzz
Do you think the offside call against Breel Embolo was correct?