Thursday Kickoff: UEFA, CONCACAF Champions Leagues highlights

By AVI CREDITOR

Arjen Robben played hero again for Bayern Munich, as his 69th-minute goal gave his side a 1-0, first-leg victory over Lyon in their UEFA Champions League semifinal tie Wednesday afternoon at Allianz Arena.

Both teams finished with 10 men, as Bayern's Franck Ribery saw red in the 37th minute, and Lyon's Jeremy Toulalan received two yellow cards three minutes apart, with the final one coming in the 54th minute. Their absences should make for an interesting twist to the return leg next week in France. Here are the highlights of the match:

And while you might have been sleeping (at least on the East Coast)…

…Cruz Azul scored a 2-1 edge over Pachuca in the first leg of the all-Mexican CONCACAF Champions League finals. Emanuel Villa scored in the 19th minute for Cruz Azul, and the hosts doubled their lead four minutes later on a Carlos Rodriguez own goal.

Damian Alvarez secured a crucial away goal in the 69th minute, and Jose Francisco Torres played the full 90 for Pachuca. Cruz Azul will be without defender Julio Dominguez in the second leg after he saw red for a 78th-minute tackle of Torres (fast-forward to 2:30) Wednesday night. Onto the highlights, where you'll see that Pachuca is extremely fortunate to only be down a goal heading home:

Do you think Bayern Munich can hold on in France and make the final without Ribery? Hoping that Torres sparks a Pachuca comeback in the second leg?

Share your thoughts below.

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59 Responses to Thursday Kickoff: UEFA, CONCACAF Champions Leagues highlights

  1. sread says:

    Bayern should hold off Lyon even without Ribery…consider it a rest before the final. He’s one wild little Frenchman.

  2. mark says:

    Unfortunately i believe that a straight red warrants a two match ban. Meaning Franck will miss the final if Bayern progress.

  3. madmax says:

    Pachuca’s defenders gave up two easy early goals, and were weak on set pieces. Torres took a shot in the family jewels it seems. I can see them winning at home, but how many goals will they give up.

  4. SaintJude says:

    At the 5:20 mark did the announcer really say Aryan Robben?!? Was it a Freudian slip or is Arjen’s name pronounced that way?

  5. Will says:

    Doesnt look like Toulalan deserved the 2nd yellow…

  6. sread says:

    Its a soft j (like “yogging”)

  7. sread says:

    No kidding, huh. That sucks–does that same suspension apply at the WC too??

  8. That tackle on Torres was the ugliest non-leg-breaking tackle I’ve ever seen.

    Torres was looking really good in the 20 minutes leading up to that point and showed a lot of heart to stay in the game. I couldn’t help but imagine how solid a midfield we’d have if he was given time to get comfortable with the likes of Dempsey, Donovan, and Bradley. The kid has a lot to offer.

  9. Brian S says:

    After watching the Pachuca game, I just don’t see how people can say the Mexican league is much better than MLS. All I saw was sloppy passing, bad finishing, and bunched up positioning

  10. RK says:

    The Ribery scandal really should be getting more press…

  11. JS says:

    no it doesn’t van buyten got a red in the group stage and only a one match ban

  12. I’ve got to disagree. In my opinion, the league has loads of skill, but lacks the world class athleticism and speed of your top leagues.

  13. TimN says:

    The Ribery red card was a good call. He came in high, late, and with studs up. He also caught the Bayern player mid lower leg in doing so, which could have resulted in serious injury.

    However, the yellows on Toulalan were both weak, and I think were called because the Bayern player in both instances dramatically feigned injury…I love soccer, but I really cannot stand the diving and faking injury that is rampant in the game.

  14. war says:

    I guess he thought that Barca will progress and he doesn’t want to play against his future employers. He probably has a lot on his mind that made him go into that tackle like that.

  15. jtd says:

    that tackle on torres was ridiculous. it hurt to watch.

  16. understood says:

    yes that is the way his name is pronounced…its aryan as in “aryan nation”…the people who pronounce it “are-gen” are just squeamish about saying that word

  17. understood says:

    well until the MLS teams starting beating them more consistently head to head you have to face facts

  18. RK says:

    Exactly. If you can’t beat them, you aren’t better than them.

  19. madmax says:

    I don’t think it’s two jumps better, but the opinion seems to come from head to head in CONCACAF Champions games. There are many reasons why MLS fares poorly in this competition, and I won’t list them all or any. It would be just as unfair to say the Mexican league is poorer based on Landin, and Gomez stories. Proof of the pudding is head to head. Although Mexico is ahead, it’s much closer than many will admit, and the trend favors MLS.

  20. Erik says:

    The Ribery red card should have been a yellow. He just missed over the top of the ball in the tackle.

    The second Toulalan yellow was a joke as they both hit the ball at the same height at the same time. But whoever it was went rolling around all over the pitch.

    As for diving in the game, I wish a ref would just take one game and not blow this whistle for anything. The players would get the point quite quickly.

  21. RK says:

    The trend favors MLS? What, MLS has won one (none?) match in Mexico head-to-head?

  22. Sammy Gupta says:

    Portsmouth just had their europa league appeal (as a result of reaching the FA Cup final)rejected by both UEFA and the English FA.

    Looks like the extra spot will go to the 7th place team in the premier league…Everton is still in the hunt, but Liverpool should hold them off.

  23. starrock says:

    It’s in the press already. Google Ribery and you’ll find 100+ articles. How about letting due process take place?

  24. ko'd says:

    Strongly disagree. Studs up, close to waist high? He is fortunate he got the ball, but only because that means that he didn’t hurt the other player. That is a full-on yellow card.

  25. Frank says:

    Did we watch the same game? Ribery’s foul should not have resulted in a card period.

    Toulalan’s first yellow was a good call. He first missed Robben but then catches his trailing leg as he stretches out. It’s a tactical foul. On the second, the ref could have used a bit more discretion as the player already carried a yellow but I assume he went ahead and sent him off due to the ridiculous red card in the first half. Either way, Schweinsteiger was attempting to play the ball when the Lyon player jums in with his studs up. It was a dangerous play.

  26. Jags98 says:

    If I hadn’t seen the Ribery red card on video, I might have said it was intentional to miss a trip to France. The scandal grows.

    The MLS has the opportunity & players to be better than the Mexican League at this point. But the players that are top notch at each club don’t really have to push themselves in the off season or during season to start. They don’t have the fans, press, or talent adding pressure to their jobs daily. Its starting to get there, but not yet. Example- knuckled-head Lalas called Seitz out for his play on those two goals but then went soft at the end of his comment, “not to totally pick on Seitz.” Please do, it was awful.

  27. fischy says:

    I can see why he got the yellow, but I’m with Will on this one. Schweinsteiger took a dive and did an operatic roll and feigned injury clutch worthy of the best Italian footballer/divers. Exactly what did Toulalan do that Schweinsteiger didn’t, except win the ball? Their legs were equally high. They both attempted to play the ball with their studs high. Toulalan came on fast and a bit recklessly, and the German took a dive. That’s hwy he got the yellow — happened so fast that the ref assumed the Frenchman fouled and hurt the German. I’m just not sure it was really even a foul.

  28. Robinswood says:

    I think he means that as more and more blue chip athletes turn to soccer, the US will just get more and more talented. Mexico has nowhere to go, at least short-term. They’ll still be skilled as all get out, but US players continue to grow in that regard and the gap is closing.

    And to whoever started this thread, there were passes, shots, and combinations you simply don’t see in MLS play. The Mexicans play the game at a very high skill level…. don’t fool yourself. Torres as a mere kid with limited experience is already better than 70% of the players on the US team skill-wise.

  29. fischy says:

    Guess we didn’t watch the same game. Ribery not only came down on Lissandro’s ankle with his studs and full weight, he pushed off with that leg — what one would have to call adding injury to insult.

    As for Toulalan — The first yellow was 110% deserved. I’d actually like to see red cards for fouls like that, because it was a deliberate takedown after he’d missed the ball. The second yellow was a dangerous move, except that the won the ball. As noted above, his leg was at exactly the same height as Schweinsteiger. The only difference was that the German was moving more slowly, trying to regain control of the ball, while the Frenchman, as you say, jumped in, and knocked the ball away…only to see Schweinsteiger do a bogus fall, roll and clutch.

  30. fischy says:

    “The MLS has the opportunity & players to be better than the Mexican League at this point. ”

    I don’t know what this means. What “opportunity”? You think MLS players are better than Mexican League players? Maybe, they’re bigger, tougher defenders. That’s about it.

    “The players that are top notch at each club don’t really have to push themselves in the off season or during season to start. They don’t have the fans, press, or talent adding pressure to their jobs daily”

    Sounds like MLS doesn’t have the players to be better, since you say there isn’t the same talent there pressing them.

    Look at all the chances Mexican teams create. You don’t see anything like that in MLS, and it’s not just because the Mexicans can’t play defense.

  31. Frank says:

    So we do agree… Toulalan came in recklessly with his cleats on top of Schweinsteiger’s foot. The ref didn’t have the best angle.

    If Ribery’s foul was card worthy than shouldn’t the Lyon player who took down Olic at the beginning of the game have been sent off as well?

  32. It probably will not happen as his last name isn’t Bradley.

  33. sread says:

    I’m not convinced that either league is going to change their respective identities. I think that’s what it pretty much comes down to. Mexican Primera is slower paced with more emphasis on a short passing game and technical skills on the ball. MLS is obviously a little faster and more physical, while possesion is given up far too much (geez don’t even get me started). Both leagues, I think, reflect the national style of play and that’s what makes each unique. That said, Mexico’s league has been around for a long, long time, thus the tradition, $$, and deep rooted youth development and training systems.

    I like the idea of the MLS opening up to more talent within CONCACAF and CONMEBOL as this will definitely get us on the same level as other American leagues. However, I think that once our youth development here is able to balance out the opportunity that is offered to foreign talent–that is what will eventually make this the top league in the hemisphere. Until then, I can’t see how a real argument can be made about MLS taking over the Mexican league in prestige. We’re still young over here, but when we can produce as many home grown players as Mexico, Brasil, Argentina, etc…imagine the prowess we’d have in world competitions. It’s scary.

  34. Test says:

    When does the next concacaf CL start? The one with RSL and the gaLAxy in it?

  35. ko'd says:

    Nah, Fischy–there is an important difference between their challenges. Toulalan showed his studs and came in hard with studs first. The Bayern player is making a soft challenge and leading with the inside of his foot. It’s a fine line, but a clear one. Regardless of the “dive,” that’s a yellow card. That is a leg-breaker.

  36. primoone says:

    One of the major differences with regard to both leagues is the simple game of possession.
    Regardless of how the opposition is defending or how far off the defensive positioning is, the fact of the matter is that only good things can come when you are possessing. (Remember what Mexico did to us at the Azteca when we went up 1-0? ). Thats something that Mexican teams thrive off of. With that said, If you have sloppy positioning or if the players are not that athletically gifted, the one thing that is going to alleviate that pressure is possession. I cant tell you how many times I shake my head during a MLS match. It pains me to see a time incapable of making 6-10 consecutive passes without losing possession or making a piss-poor pass.

    Mexican teams, as well as central american teams school MLS teams with respect to posession. MLS teams get frustrated which causes them to play out of the offensive context. Mistakes begin to happen and game over.

    Players are more talented…the teams have their own home grown talent that are brought up through their youth systems. Take that and add the addition of 3-4 internationals per squad and thats a pretty potent team.

    MLS…not soo talented..definitely faster and more physical but definitely no where near the tecnical abilities down south. Which is fine however MLS teams fail to impose their style of play when facing Mexican teams. Its hard to score when you don’t have the ball. Take Argentinian football…they are not known for great defending even on the biggest teams Boca River…the common denominator is the possession game. They can afford a weaker defense because the ball possession is so potent.

  37. Vik says:

    wow, super open game with the mexican teams. Could have easily been 4-4 for 5-4

  38. primoone says:

    Im gonna co-sign that…

  39. Dman says:

    SI reporting no Charlie Davies for the World Cup

  40. Chris says:

    I think by now it is clear that Bradley has earned his right to play in the midfield.

  41. primoone says:

    “Both leagues, I think, reflect the national style of play”

    I feel noxious…

    Not that you mis-stated or anything. However, to see on paper that the US is a defend and counter team just hit me really hard.

  42. John1 says:

    Indeed.Poor Torres. Talk about getting an order of “huevos rancheros” the hard way.

  43. Al_OC says:

    Don’t mean to be nitpicking, but that’s not exactly true. They’re reporting the Davies won’t play in Ligue1 this season, which may lead to him being out of WC.

    But the team’s president also said there’s still hope that he’ll make it to WC, though it’ll be difficult.

  44. DCLee says:

    D.C. united has had all the possession in the world in their first 4 games and they are 0-4. The main difference in my opinion is that true #10. There are plenty of playmakers or guys that can create for themselves and others in the final 3rd in Mexico…not so much in MLS. However that takes money and as the MLS grows and expands I expect this gap to close as more teams will get more creative quality players in their midfield.

  45. Dinho says:

    Not exactly….but impliedly.

  46. Ian says:

    Wow, and I thought the Sounders were bad at finishing. Bayern should have had 4.

  47. Eric_the_King says:

    Not even close Frank. The Lyon player’s tackle on Olic was hard, but completely fair. His studs were down through the tackle. At first I thought it was nasty, but the replay shows it was 100% fair. Ribery is a straight red. No questions asked. You can’t jump off the ground with two feet and have one with studs up raking another player’s high ankle. It may not have been Ribery’s intent (he looked like he was trying to protect himself), but that could easily have broken a leg.

  48. adam says:

    Cruz Azul’s first goal was followed by the goalscorer putting hit boot through the advertisement boards at the goal line… too bad that didn’t make it into the recap, as it was fairly entertaining. No idea if it was intentional.

  49. TimN says:

    Perhaps you should go back and watch the tape. He came in high, late, and with studs up. He also crashed into the Bayern player’s leg in doing so. It’s hard to imagine that not warranting a straight red.

    Neither of Toulalan’s fouls even warranted a yellow, ESPECIALLY the second. Both players challenged the ball at the same time, and there was no player contact. They each hit opposite sides of the ball. However, because Schweinsteiger flopped and rolled about after the play, the ref produced a yellow.

  50. brentmcd says:

    I would be curious to know the average field dimensions in MLS vs. Mexican League. Just watching on TV, it always seems like the Mexican fields are much bigger (especially wider). And that would lend itself to a more passing, possession-oriented style game. Add the fact that more than a few of the Mexican stadiums are at altitude, and it becomes obvious that you can’t just run around chasing the game all day. Better to conserve energy, possess, pass, let the ball do the work. Anyway, that’s my theory for some of the differences in style of play between the two nations.

  51. Brian says:

    Lol at the Lyon defender trying to avoid the ball on Robben’s goal

  52. Christof says:

    toulalans first foul not a yellow? the ball is already 10 metres away and he puts his foot up to stop Robben. You must be kidding.

  53. RLW2020 says:

    good point. how many pro (MLS, USL, etc) and youth teams play on baseball or football team fields? the narrow fields has something to do with it,

    but more so its like comparing spain vs. england every team and group people have a different way of taking the game. i hope our nation does more than become experts of anti-football.

  54. RLW2020 says:

    seriously, take one for the team!

  55. FidelNadal says:

    I think it will start up mid season here in MLS. Like early summer time.

  56. vivalosburros says:

    It’s not pronounced like aryan (air-ee-en) it is more are-ee-yen.

  57. DaveW says:

    I thought Seitz was just auditioning to replace Memo Ochoa.