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We're dealing with a two-tier Champions League


Games like Tuesday's in Madrid underline that the Champions League is a two-tier tournament. As in almost every walk of life, the rich are getting richer and the middle classes are going backwards, slipping further away from them. Legia Warsaw were a flimsy presence at the Bernabéu, making little impact beyond the odd piece of nice play and a chronicle foretold of disturbances involving their ultras, who damage the prestige of their club and the game, and spoil things for law-abiding people at home and abroad. Real did little to make the evening worthwhile, either. They were disorganised, proving all too obliging at the back - a good side would have taken better advantage - and failed to sparkle going forwards.

There were ugly scenes involving Legia Warsaw fans.
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There were ugly scenes involving Legia Warsaw fans.BARTLOMIEJ ZBOROWSKIEFE

Better Real performances have yielded fewer goals 

They scored five, sure: but we've seen them play better and get fewer - or even none at all. It's certainly not as if they showed much inspiration or penetration in attack. They netted five times because in the first half almost everything they hit went in (one thanks to a deflection, another aided by an offside in the build-up) and because, in the second, youth products Álvaro Morata and Lucas Vázquez were each rewarded for their energy with a goal. One man not on target was Cristiano Ronaldo, who drifted between the flank and the middle in search of a goal, but missed out. It was a night that left us with the goals scored and points accrued, and with CR7 still out to reach 100 European strikes. He did set up two, at least.

Second-half substitute Lucas Vázquez got on the scoresheet at the Bernabéu.
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Second-half substitute Lucas Vázquez got on the scoresheet at the Bernabéu.JAVIER BARBANCHOREUTERS

Lucas Vázquez's attitude is utterly exemplary

Zinedine Zidane is devoted to the 'BBC' as mandatory picks, while further back giving everyone their share as much as he can (which is quite a bit), to ensure they're all happy. The other day it was Isco; this time it was Marco Asensio and James Rodríguez. Vázquez, Morata and Mateo Kovacic got game time, too. His skill is in keeping everyone involved and engaged, akin to juggling a load of oranges without dropping any. He seems to be managing it. On that score, Vázquez's attitude in particular is simply exemplary. Limited to a bit-part role more than anyone, he peforms impeccably whenever he's on. A complete player, one for any occasion, one who gets up and down the park wherever that may be. A model player.