By Shai Mamou
AJ Auxerre-AC Milan: 0-2 (Ibrahimovic 64′, Ronaldinho, 90′)
It was predictable, AJ Auxerre lost versus AC Milan on Tuesday evening (0-2). However, Jean Fernandez’s players were far from ridiculous despite the edge between the two records of achievements. For example, during almost every game in this European campaign, Auxerre developed a quite interesting soccer and threatened their opponent’s goalkeeper a few times before… conceding a goal. Not so impressed by Massimiliano Allegri’s armada (though Pirlo and Pato were missing), Sammaritano and co. were brave opponents and would probably have surprised the Italians with a little more realism. At this particular game, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (photo) is one of the best strikers in the world.
On one of his first opportunities, the Swedish bombarded the poor Sorin with a shot under the bar. Then, a few seconds before the final whistle, Ronaldinho reminded everyone that he was still a wizard in spite of his situation in Italy and his numerous late-night parties. After a nice move, the Brazilian bended the ball with his left foot with a disconcerting easiness to beat the French goalkeeper. Lucid but not convincing, Milan will have to show a lot more serenity when they will face a more experienced team… If Auxerre abandons the hope of a qualification for the next round, the players of Burgundy still have the possibility to join the Europa League if they manage to win versus Real Madrid two weeks from now.
Auxerre : O. Sorin, C. Hengbart, (K. Chafni 59′), A. Coulibaly, S. Grichting, D. Dudka, D. Oliech, B. Pedretti, D. Ndinga, V. Birsa, F. Sammaritano, (J. Quercia 66′), R. Contout, (A. Traoré 83′)
AC Milan : C. Abbiati, I. Abate, A. Nesta, T. Silva, G. Zambrotta, G. Gattuso, M. Ambrosini, C. Seedorf, (K. Boateng 76′), M. Flamini, Z. Ibrahimovic, (Ronaldinho 85′), Robinho
Schalke 04-Lyon: 3-0 (Farfan 13′, Huntelaar 20′, Huntelaar 89′)
If some fans had any doubt about it, Lyon is still sick. Completely overwhelmed by a team of Schalke which has just begun to find its cruising speed, the Frenchmen seemed far from their usual level in Champions League (semi-final last year). Forget about the impressive collective force during the Essien, Juninho or Benzéma time years ago. Today, Lyon has no certitude and no real fundamentals to oppose to teams like this Schalke. Aggressiveness, determination and realism were the keys of the German success on Wednesday at the Veltins Arena. And Felix Magath can really be satisfied of his summer recruits. If he did not score, Raul brought all his experience and was a permanent danger for the febrile defense of Olympique Lyon. But if one guy is to praise in this game, it’s definately Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. As a French journalist, I only can regret that no team in France thought about recruiting him (yes offense to Marseille or Lyon). With two opportunist goals, the Dutchman proved his flair was still intact despite his mixed episodes in Madrid and Milan. Jefferson Farfan also played well, reminding he was one of PSV EIndhoven’s top players a few years ago, scoring the first goal of the game. Even if his team worried a lot of observers, Claude Puel can be relieved. His team is already qualified for the next round thanks to the unexpected win of Hapoel Tel Aviv versus Benfica (3-0).
Schalke 04 : M. Neuer, A. Uchida, B. Höwedes, C. Metzelder, L. Schmitz, J. Farfan, (Edu 66′), P. Kluge, J. Jones, (J. Matip 70′), J. Jurado, (C. Deac 84′), Raul, K. Huntelaar
Lyon : H. Lloris, A. Réveillère, P. Diakhaté, D. Lovren, A. Cissokho, M. Bastos, Y. Gourcuff, (M. Pjanic 61′), J. Toulalan, K. Källström, J. Briand, Lisandro, (B. Gomis 46′), (J. Pied 73′)