Varying fortunes in the Champions League for LaLiga clubs this week
The UEFA Champions League group stage has reached the mid-way point, with all sides having played three matches thus far. LaLiga clubs each looked to secure their own standings with a victory, but the four did not all enjoy that exact type of success.
Valencia and manager Marcelino got the action started on Tuesday for the Spanish squads, traveling to battle BSC Young Boys of Switzerland. Los Che were certainly pleased with the start of the game, as midfielder Carlos Soler linked up well with forward Michy Batshuayi for the opening goal in the 26th minute. Despite the bright first half, they would be unable to see out a win.
Young Boys leveled the match after a penalty kick, and the final scoreline was 1-1. The result leaves Valencia sitting third in Group H, two points back of second-place Manchester United.
Real Madrid were next, and manager Julen Lopetegui desperately needed a strong performance from his players. This past weekend featured various reports of the coach being sacked due to a string of poor showings, and an emphatic win at home against Viktoria Plzen was absolutely vital.
Los Blancos did earn a 2-1 victory, now level with AS Roma at the top of Group G on points with six. But it was far from convincing, and Lopetegui’s future may ultimately rest with how Sunday’s El Clásico versus Barcelona ends.
Atlético Madrid were poised to take control of Group A, visiting Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. However, the home side were too much for Los Rojiblancos, running out to an impressive (and surprising) 4-0 win.
Atlético are second in the group now on six points. They will prepare to host Real Sociedad in league play on Saturday evening.
Finally, it was Barcelona’s chance to shine, and the Cules did not disappoint the home fans at the Camp Nou. Even with Lionel Messi out injured, manager Ernesto Valverde’s side secured a decisive 2-0 victory against Internazionale.
Rafinha (32’) and Jordi Alba (83’) provided the goals, keeping Barcelona on top of Group B with three wins out of three.
LaLiga clubs have performed well in Europe throughout this decade, evidenced by Real Madrid's recent dominance in the competition. The 2018-19 season may yet again see a Spanish squad lift the trophy, with Barcelona indeed appearing quite strong thus far.