Manchester City showed last season – against Barcelona, no less – that a lot can change in a fortnight. UEFA.com shows why there is hope for the likes of Sevilla, Celtic and Maribor ahead of matchday four.
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Sevilla, Celtic and Maribor all suffered chastening losses on matchday three and the prospect of a rematch with their tormentors next week must seem daunting. Yet the history books suggest there is always hope.
It is a tired cliché, appropriated from 1960s British politics, but the adage that a week is a long time in football bears more than a little truth. So imagine how much can change in two weeks? Quite a lot if UEFA Champions League history is any guide.
The swift turnaround between matchdays three and four has always carried its own intrigue, giving in-form teams an opportunity to quickly build momentum with six points on offer. Conversely, for the vanquished there is a chance of rapid retribution. Revenge is not always a dish best served cold.
Over the past 14 seasons (since the competition's current format was introduced) only 45% of sides have picked up six points from matchdays three and four – hardly an overwhelming strike rate. Shakhtar's demolition of BATE Borisov in 2014/15, when Luis Adriano scored eight in 7-0 and 5-0 wins, is the record 'aggregate' victory – by a distance.
Yet lose on matchday three and all is not necessarily lost, if you see what we mean. Last year, eight teams claimed six points over the middle matchdays, and just one dusted themselves down after defeat and bounced back with a win. But 12 months earlier the tally was five apiece.
Across 92 sets of back-to-back fixtures over the past six seasons, 18 clubs avenged matchday three losses the next time out. Bayern led the way in 2015/16 with a perfect riposte to a 2-0 reverse at Arsenal, Josep Guardiola's men overwhelming their visitors 5-1 15 days later – equalling the Gunners' heaviest ever European defeat.
Guardiola proved it was no fluke last season. Now in charge of Manchester City, he suffered a 4-0 loss at another of his former clubs Barcelona but after just 13 days later, despite falling behind to a Lionel Messi goal, oversaw a 3-1 home success. This time, however, Guardiola will take City to Napoli having won 2-1 last week.
There's always hope
As City proved on that occasion, even if you lose badly, there is always scope for optimism. Arsenal thumped Shakhtar 5-1 in 2010 and appeared poised for another three points when Theo Walcott gave them an early lead in Donetsk. The hosts had other ideas, recovering to triumph 2-1. "We thought we could get through without putting in 100%," rued Arsène Wenger.
Arsenal also share the unwanted record for the biggest matchday three win followed by a matchday four reverse with another English club, Chelsea. The latter, then managed by José Mourinho, beat Real Betis 4-0 in 2005 only to lose the reunion 1-0. Last season, having beaten Ludogorets Razgrad 6-0, Arsenal then had to come back from two behind in Bulgaria to avoid an ever bigger upset and win 3-2.
Subside at home on matchday three and you are up against it, though. Only four teams have ever bounced back to win: Arsenal (v Borussia Dortmund, 2013), Roma (v Basel, 2010), Porto (v Dynamo Kyiv, 2008) and AC Milan (v Club Brugge, 2003).