Champions League: five things we have learnt this week

European football’s elite competition offered the usual mix of great goals, sublime performances and controversies. Here’s what we have learnt.

1) UEFA must kick them out

How long will UEFA tolerate racism in football? Campaigns and billboards against racial discrimination in the game are all good and well, but concrete actions would be even more welcomed.

Unfortunately, European football’s governing body seems oblivious to adopt serious measures against the vile human beings that continue with their horrid soundtrack of boos and monkey chants whenever a black player touches the ball.

Yaya Toure rightly demanded strong actions against CSKA Moscow, but instead of kick them out of the competition as they ought to do, UEFA will probably sanction a paltry fine.

2) United enjoying Europe

One the main critics directed to David Moyes when the former Everton manager replaced Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford was that he had virtually no experience in Europe’s top competition.

Three games later, United are joint-top in their group alongside Bayer Leverkusen and have accrued a healthy seven-point return which has them well placed to progress to the round of 16.

Last night’s performance against Real Sociedad was much better than United had produced at any stage this season and while United are obviously way behind Europe’s heavyweights, their European form could prove important for them as they seek to get their domestic campaign back on track

3) His Zlataness

This Saturday’s El Clasico will pit the world’s two best players against each other. However, for all their incredible brilliance, neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo have quite grabbed the public attention in recent weeks as Zlatan Ibrahimovic has.

After scoring an incredible back-heel volley against Bastia on the weekend, the giant Swede scored four of his team’s five goals away at Anderlecht last night, netting a hat-trick in just over half an hour.

Ibra’s third, a thunderous effort which was clocked at over 100 kpmh, earned him a standing ovation from the Belgian crowd. “It was crazy, I had goosebumps,” said Ibrahimovic of the reception.  “It is a great honour for me. I want to thank the fans.” 

It should be the fans thanking him, instead.

4) Arsenal’s trips could be fatal to them

Despite their defeat on Tuesday, Arsenal remain top of the table halfway through the group stage, but Robert Lewandowski’s goal could make things a lot more complicated for Arsene Wenger’s team.

The Gunners suffered only their second defeat of the campaign since losing to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season but will now have to travel to Naples and Dortmund knowing their fate in the group will depend on those two games, given that all three teams are likely to beat Marseille.

Missing out on the knockout stages would be an ironic and cruel blow, given that Arsenal have finally spent a huge amount of money on Mesut Ozil, the sort of world class player the fans had demanded for years.

5) Spain or Brazil? Atletico Madrid won’t care

When Radamel Falcao packed his bags and left Madrid for Montecarlo, few thought that Atletico would find a striker just as deadly as the Colombian.

And yet, they have. Having scored 10 goals in his nine league games this season, Diego Costa netted two on his Champions League debut (he was suspended for the first two matchdays) as Atletico Madrid won 3-0 away against Austria Vienna.

The striker, who is considering playing international football for Spain despite having played for Brazil in two friendlies, has become one of European football’s hottest property and, should Atletico retain his services in January, he is likely to be an extremely difficult customer in the knockout stage.

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