Following a turbulent win over Dortmund in the previous round, Liverpool came into the next round as favourites for the competition. But the underrated Villarreal had no intention of rolling over, and provided a typically strong defensive performance to take a narrow 1-0 win after a last-minute winner from Adrian Lopez.
After a tense first leg, both teams faced up at Anfield in a much greater attacking focus and the result was a more chaotic game. It was decided by intelligent changes from Klopp in the second half as he produced another miracle, yet this time from the opposite dugout.
On Sunday the 31st of May 2015 Napoli lost 4-2 at home to Lazio in their final game of the 2014-15 Serie A season. The result finally ended Napoli’s slim chances of qualifying for the Champions League in the next season as they finished 5th. To make matters worse (so it seemed) head coach Rafa Benitez was set to leave and take over at Real Madrid, and with Lazio’s emergence under Pioli, Napoli fans could be forgiven for feeling pessimistic. It was an all too familiar feeling of uncertainty for the Napoli faithful only two seasons after Mazzarri left for Inter after guiding them to their highest finish since their Scudetto winning campaign of 1989-90.
Dortmund played host to Liverpool in one of the most highly-anticipated Europa League games in recent years. The talk of the game was largely based around Jürgen Klopp’s first return to Dortmund after leaving the side last year, however we saw a much more interesting story on the pitch in a tactically-intriguing match-up.
Thursday night treated us to the biggest game of the mid-week European fixtures as the top team in England travelled to the second-best team in Germany in what had the potential to be an excellent Europa League match-up. Tuchel elected to field a near-full strength side whilst Pochettino, who seemingly values his chances at a Premier League title more than the value of the Europa League, opted to start with a rather depleted line-up.
Dortmund made a somewhat lacklustre performance after Casillas’ first own-goal of his career virtually ensured Dortmund’s qualification. Tuchel’s side started the game poorly but managed to score the only goal of the game after Casillas turned an offside Aubameyang shot into his own net, and from that point onward lacked intensity as the side aimed to see the game through with minimal exertion.
FC Porto didn’t even try to intimidate Borussia Dortmund, when both teams met on Thursday evening. A 2-0 win gives BVB a great going-in position for the second match next week at the Estádio do Dragão.
As FC Porto released a statement on January 8, 2016, announcing that they were relieving Julen Lopetegui of his duties, it took them only a few words to make a bad season even worse.
After a recent loss to Hamburg, Tuchel’s Borussia Dortmund again fell short this time in a Europa League clash away in Russia to Krasnodar. Despite having multiple chances and hitting the woodwork on three occasions, the German side ultimately couldn’t reply to their opposition’s early goal which came from a penalty in the first minute.
As Tuchel looked to rest a few of the key players in the Dortmund squad, he made an interesting and ultimately ineffective adaption of their possession game which led to a weak first half showing.