While the Barcelona–AC Milan game might have taken and received much of the focus headed into Tuesday’s Champions League action given that both clubs are established European blue bloods, the game with the most intrigue and promise of good play promise was the Group F game in London between Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund.
Given that both are a part of the “Group of Death”, taking points away from this game was of vital importance for both teams.
Both Dortmund and Arsenal fielded predictable starting 11s for this game, with the only outlier being Mikel Arteta coming in for Mathieu Flamini, who sustained a head injury. From the opening whistle, both teams showed that they intended to play open, flowing and offensive-minded football with Dortmund bening the team that was better in the final attacking third in the first 15 minutes of the game.
The second half would continue to be an even affair with neither team able to impose itself over the other. Both continued to see their fullbacks make runs into the final third but a result of some wastefulness, they not able to create scoring chances. Arsenal showed a second wind to their play as Santi Carzola came in for Jack Wilshere, and his inclusion provided fresh legs in the midfield that almost resulted in Cazorla scoring.
As the game was settling into what looked like to be a draw, Arsenal were made to pay for a temporary lapse in defense as Kevin Grossfreutz was again able to make a run into the final third. This time, Grosskreutz was not wasteful as he sent in a well hit pass that was met by Robert Lewandowski, who scored the game winner. This goal against the run of play was a classic Dortmund counter where they broke well, led by the pushing up of their fullbacks like Grosskreutz.
As a result of their ability to take advantage of defensive lapses, Dortmund have joined Arsenal and Napoli in a three-way tie for first in the group at six points. The win sets Dortmund up well as two of their final three group games are at home. For Arsenal, the defeat ended a 12-game unbeaten streak in all competitions served as a reminder that defensive lapses like the ones they had come back to bite you in Champions Leauge play.
For neutrals, this game was everything you wanted and expected to see in a Champions League game, while making an already interesting group that much more interesting.