Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus celebrates with team-mates after scoring against Real Madrid in the Champions League …
In the group stage of the Champions League, Germany showed everybody their collective strengths.
I guess German football is extremely well managed and in good financial health at the moment. They don't spend more than they have, whereas others with lesser means are willing to do anything.
I rate Dortmund because they finished top in a tremendously difficult group containing two 'natural' favourites -Real Madrid and Manchester City - both of whom ultimately finished behind Dortmund.
But outside of the big teams like Real and Barcelona, I would like to highlight Shakhtar Donetsk's performance. They were also in a very difficult group, with Chelsea and the Juventus, yet they dominated most of their matches.
And let's not forget Juventus, who eventually sealed their qualification on the final day. That they did so in such a fashion means something; it's the sign of the great team in an exceptional state of mind. I believe Juve have been reborn.
Now we are into the knockout phase of the competition - with direct elimination - I think Juventus can go far because they are capable of springing a surprise.
So far, the biggest surprise the Champions League has delivered has been the eliminations of Chelsea and Manchester City.
Chelsea was a shock because it is the first time the holders have failed to get out of the group stage. I guess it's also a sign of a reversal of European football values. Many English teams used to easily dominate the first round, but that era is now over.
In Chelsea's defence, I know they were in a difficult group. But it's also very difficult to highlight the main reason for the exit, because we cannot talk about a lack of experience. Maybe it's a certain conviction that is missing in European competition.
As for players who have made an impression thus far, Marco Reus of Dortmund has stood out for me, most notably in the game against Manchester City, when his sense of passing, consistent precision, speed and efficiency were impressive.
Stephan El Shaarawy too, who is very mobile and technically gifted. While he's not that physically impressive, the AC Milan forward is in constant movement, corresponding exactly to my outlook on the game. I'm just saying I love his game...
As for Arsenal, I think our qualification was not easy, but it was expected. We were lucky to start with a victory in Montpellier, after what was a rather fortuitous goal. The 2-2 draw at Schalke turned out in our favour, although a black mark on the campaign came in the 2-0 defeat in the reverse fixture at the Emirates.
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