NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN: HOW DID CHAMPIONS LEAGUE MINNOWS UNDO 13-TIME WINNERS REAL MADRID?
Debutants Sheriff Tiraspol produced one of the biggest shocks in Champions League history, by beating 13 time winners Real Madrid.
In the second round of this year's Champions League group stage Madrid found themselves at home to first timers Sheriff who have never played Champions League football before. Both teams had an impressive start to the group with Madrid taking a 1-0 away win against Italian champions Inter Milan whereas Sheriff took the three points at home to Shakhtar Donetsk with a 2-0 home win.
Madrid came out strong, with a team consisting of the likes of Eden Hazard , Thibaut Courtois, David Alaba and Karim Benzema. In La Liga this season Benzema has 15 goal contributions in only seven games. With the team around him and Carlo Ancelotti as manager you can easily see how they are top of La Liga as of now. Due to them being in the Champions League Sheriff are 3rd in their league with three games in hand. Their current league form has seen them score 26 goals, whilst only conceding four. With stats like these you can see how they won the league last year with 99 points and could definitely do so again.
At the start of the game Madrid came out strong and on the ball as expected from the Spanish giants. It only took 18 minutes for Benzema to get his first sniff at goal. After Danilo Arboleda picked up a reckless yellow, Madrid were awarded a free kick which forced a good save from Greek keeper Giorgos Athanasiadis. However, after a good spell of play from Sheriff a good ball out wide found Cristiano da Silva Leite who played a wonderful lofted cross into the Madrid box where Jasurbek Yakhshiboev was able to head it home to put them one up. In the last ten minutes of the half Benzema again caused chaos in the box as he forced another good save from the keeper. Not long after Hazard fired a shot off forcing the keeper to parry the ball, with the rebound somehow staying out and going over the bar. It then wasn't until the 60th minute where Vinicius Junior showed a great bit of skill but got a knock mid way in the box and went down. The ref said play on but not for long as VAR came into play and gave the penalty where Benzema coolly slotted it into the goal equalling the score. Sheriff unbelievably scored again but to the disappointment of others it was ruled out for offside as VAR stepped in. A few minutes later Modric rockets a shot towards goal but yet again the greek keeper was equal to it but hurt himself in the process. In the last minutes of the game Substitute Rodrygo delivers a great cross into the box to find the other sub Luca Jovic however Jovic fluffed his line only a few yards away from goal. Into the 90th minute Sebastian Thrill hit a spectacular half volley from outside the box into the top left corner leaving Courtois without a chance of saving it to put them 2-1 and winning them the game.
In the game Madrid had 30 shots with 11 on target, dominating possession but still unable to find a way to score in open play past a team with 1 Champions league game under their belt. As expected Madrid controlled the ball and forced the Moldovan side to sit back and soak up all oncoming attacks from Madrid and counter when possible. It wasn't like Madrid weren't creating chances, stats recorded 159 attacks with 150 of them classed as dangerous so how were they not able to score in open play? Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti said he was "a little sad" as he felt Real "deserved to win".
Credit due to Sheriffs keeper who made many saves in crucial moments keeping his team in the game. Sheriff came into this game with a 16 game unbeaten streak whilst beating Shaktar. Comparing the stats between their game against Shaktar and Madrid you can see that they are happy to sit back and play counter attack football when it comes to playing big teams and it clearly has worked. Conceding 1 and scoring 4 isn't a bad record when they've only had 7 shots on target in two games whilst facing many more shots against them. Some teams when playing a better opposition like to throw all men behind the ball and play formations like 5-3-2, 5-4-1 and 4-5-1 however Sheriff played a 4-2-3-1 so they can counter with more numbers which caught out Madrid a few times after throwing men forward.