Luis Enrique’s Barcelona side made the enviable trip to Paris on Valentine’s day for a last-16 first leg clash with Paris Saint-Germain. Both sides are experiencing average domestic campaigns by their lofty recent standards and the Champions League thus takes on great significance as an alternative way of enjoying a successful season.
Since Santi Cazorla suffered another Achilles injury in October, Arsenal have stuttered through a run of four draws (and three wins) in seven games. Much has already been written about how the Gunners struggle in possession but not as much attention has been paid to the struggle Arsène Wenger’s side have out of possession.
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.