The Champions League 2021/22 final round is approaching as the first leg of UCL play off is underway this midweek. Some favourites like Monaco and PSV are facing a real danger. Yet, there is still a chance for them to overturn their current disadvantage although Monaco might be facing a harder task.
Nico Kovac’s men were stunned by Shakhtar Donetsk at home as the Ukrainian side managed to pick up a narrow win here. Pedrinho’s early goal on 19th minute was the only goal of the game. Monaco was knocking on the door afterwards with at least three shot on targets at the second half. Yet, Shakhtar goalie Anatolii Turbin was in form and denied all of the home side’s attempts, supported by Roberto de Zerbi’s men’s solid defence. Next week, Wissam Ben Yedder and Co must bounce back from this negative trend earlier this season to save their Champions League hope. Monaco has been winless since matchday one in Ligue 1 by only picking up one draw and one loss so far.
In Lisbon, PSV’s campaign might be in danger since they were beaten 1-2 by Benfica. The Dutch side’s hope to play in the final round will not materialise if they could not seal a win at home next week. In the tight clash this week, Jorge Jesus’s men took an early lead through Rafa on tenth minute. Next, the former Borussia Dortmund man, Julian Weigl extended their lead just three minutes before the interval. PSV were only able to reply once through Cody Gakpo’s long range strike.
Monaco vs Shakhtar Donetsk 0-1
Goals: Pedrinho (19)
Monaco: R Majecki – Badiashile, Carlos Henrique, Guillermo Maripan, D Sidibe – A Tchouameni, Alexander Golovin (Sofiane Diop 60), Youssouf Fofana (Juan Lucas 46), Gelson Martins (Krepin Diatta 67) – Kevin Volland, Wissam Ben Yedder (Myron Boadu 67)
Shakhtar Donetsk: Anatolii Turbin – Dodo, M Santos, Vitao, M Matvienko – M Antonio, Manor Solomon (Yevhen Konoplyanka 66), Maycon (Taras Stepanenko 74), Tete (Marlos 89), Pedrinho (Alan Patrick 46) – Lasina Traore (Danylo Sikan 90)
Meanwhile, there has been no surprise in the other four fixtures but one. Dinamo Zagreb was smashed 0-3 by Sheriff Tiraspol. A salute to the Moldovan Champions which just eliminated the 1991 Champions, Red Star Belgrade 2-1 on aggregate at the previous stage, is in order. They do not seem to stop to shock their contenders this season and potentially continue to do so if they manage to qualify to the group stage.
Sheriff’s winning goals were scored by Adama Traore who bagged a brace and Dimitris Kolovos. They only need to keep their form and stay solid at the backline to prevent Dinamo Zagreb from scoring more than three goals, something which is still quite possible, however challenging. Mislav Orsic and Co would attempt to score as fast and early as possible to give more pressure to Sheriff and optimise their home advantage at Maksimir Stadium next week.