Two of the most progressive young coaches in football came together last night in the pressing-duel of this Champions League matchday.
Meetings between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund have become a regular event in recent years and made for some special matches. On their return to the Champions League, Tuchel’s new-look side played host to Zinedine Zidane’s reigning-champions.
The Champions League qualifying match with Steaua Bucharest was only the second competitive match of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City. Whilst it is true that it is still too early to come to any real judgements in terms of systems or players there were fascinating signs of progress.
Rostov return from Amsterdam with what could be a crucial away goal in the first leg of the Champions League Qualification Round. Despite having the ball for the vast majority of the contest, Ajax hosts were unable to turn their dominance of possession into a victory, thanks in no small part to Rostov’s defence.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the deciding penalty in the shootout at the San Siro to win Real Madrid an eleventh Champions League, and elevate Zinedine Zidane to the pantheon of the six other coaches who have won the European Cup as both a player and a manager. A classic match, however, it most certainly was not, with both teams struggling in key areas of their game.
Large improvements on last week and one of the most dominant 1st halves of Bayern under Pep were not enough to overcome Simeone’s Atlético. After edging the first leg, the side from the Spanish capital held on against an excellent Bayern side who were on top for large periods.
Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid are arguably the form team in the world currently. After overcoming Barcelona over two legs, they were faced with a worse-performing Bayern Munich in the semi-finals. Hosting the first leg, Cholo’s men made yet another great defensive performance to keep Bayern goalless after Saul Niguez opened the scoring early with an excellent solo run and finish.
Bayern Munich travelled to the Estadio da Luz last night looking to advance to their fifth consecutive Champions League semi-final. Carrying a 1-0 victory from the first leg in Munich, the table-topping Germans took on a Benfica team also leading their domestic league, hoping to avoid a repeat of their last trip to Portugal, which ended in a 3-1 hammering at the hands of Porto.
This was a match between two teams in similar long term situations but have had very different recent history. Both sides have been trying and failing to achieve European success since Middle-East investment a few years ago. However PSG are a side that have dominated domestically this season, winning the Ligue 1 title early last month while City have been on a dreadful patch of form since announcing that Pep Guardiola this season. With just one point between them and their cross-city rivals in fifth, winning the Champions League may be their only chance of making sure they’re playing in the tournament next season.
After winning his first clasico on the weekend, Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid travelled to Germany and faced Dieter Hecking’s Wolfsburg.