Late, late shows in Champions League

by Steve

This blog seems to have had a certain bee in its bonnet about stoppage time, with one post, on Manchester United, injury time and the need for reform, proving a popular one.

So, it was interesting to look through last night’s Champions League results and see so many late goals.

In eight games, there were four goals in injury time. Those for Atletico Madrid and Manchester United (them again!) were game-changing.

In total, 12 goals out of the 26 scored in those games took place after the 80th minute. By my rudimentary calculations, that’s over 46 per cent of goals scored in the final stages.

So what does this mean? Without any statistics for games generally as a ‘control’, it’s hard to say for sure. But why let that stop us speculating? Tiredness must be a factor. Games will often open up as they reach their conclusion. A losing side, such as Atletico or United, will push more in the final moments. A side doing particularly well, like Marseille last night, might knock in a few more goals. Maybe this happens more in the Champions League, as qualification is in sight?

Either way, this tiny sample of games shows how important fitness and concentration is, right up to the final whistle. It also shows how important injury time can be to the result of a game, or even to a team’s goal difference. Too important to just leave to the referee, I’d suggest.

There may well be more late, late shows tonight.

Liverpool are one particular exponent of pulling something out of the fire late on. I do, however, wonder if this is one ‘must win’ game too far? I’m not sure pinning your hopes on an injured Torres is the best idea, but then again, even an injured Torres is better than 95 per cent of strikers in the world. If he plays, that is. Here’s hoping…