The Champions League Last 16 – Our look back on the matches from the 1st leg
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Benfica 1 v 0 Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund somehow managed to lose this game even though they dominated this games in large parts. Controlling possession and putting the Benfica goal under sustained pressure.
They will have left Lisbon wondering how they didn’t even get an away goal. Never mind 3 points.
Benfica will feel they have used their get out of jail card as they really did ride their luck at times, and then scored a pretty scrappy winning goal. They will fancy there chances in Germany now as they know that if they get that precious early away goal it means Dortmund will have to score 3.
I expect Dortmund to win this tie by 2 or more and go through though as for me they are alot stronger. I thought they – all though they lost in Lisbon – were really impressive going forward and all they were missing was a goal.
PSG 4 v 0 Barcelona
What a performance by PSG.
You can say that Barcelona didn’t turn up, which they pretty much didn’t, but take nothing away from PSG.
When they were 2 – 0 up at half time alot of people including myself expected Barca to come back in the 2nd half and put them in their place.
But the opposite happened as PSG put them to the sword and did to Barcelona what Barcelona having been doing to countless teams over the years.
Alot of people have already been comparing this Barcelona team (last season and this season) to the Xavi, Iniesta, Messi Team of the late 00’s. And that it is up there with the best teams of all time. For me this comparison is well off the mark and the statement is ludricous.
For me this team is peppered with brillance and magical moments, and virtually perfect footballing performances within a given 90 minutes.
But they remain to flaky, and lack the solidity and cohesiveness that all great teams have. As a result they experience inconsistency, and are prone to the occasional collapse.
The Barcelona team of the late 00’s (Xavi, Iniesta, Messi) may not at times have been as exciting to watch, but they controlled games at their will and like no other.
For me along with the AC Milan team of the 90’s the 2 best ever club teams I have seen.
PSG for their part continue to improve and will now be considered a threat to any team but I can’t see them going much further than the Quarter Finals. Possibly the Semi Finals at a push. I just think there are to many other teams in the tournament that are stronger then them.
The return leg should be a great game, I expect Barcelona to win but PSG to score and go through.
Real Madrid 3 v Napoli 1
What an amazing early goal by Napoli, so unorthodox and unconventional. Lorenzo Insigne did well to spot that Navas out of position and placed it perfectly.
Real Madrid came back strongly though and got an equaliser 11 minutes later through Benzema. Followed later by Ronaldo dribblling to the by line and then cutting a pass straight back to Kroos who was waiting on the edge of the box and calmly slotted it in.
The best was saved to last though as Casemiro hit a beautifully struck dipping volley in the 54th minute into the bottom corner from 30 yards out. A Zidane esque moment.
Ronaldo is maturing into a team player with age, as was shown on this display as he was very unselfish.
Zidane, is Zidane.
Bayern Munich 5 v Arsenal 1
Ok, so I am not an Arsenal fan, but god dam this was hilarious to watch.
Better than any comedy, this was a comedy of errors and some.
One thing is certain now. Arsenal in the Last 16 every February, and lots, and lots of goals….
Of course the players at Arsenal need to take a large part of the blame. They were a disgrace and acted like spoiled kids that ended up throwing their toys out of the pram as they game wore to a close.
This group of players are a damning indictment of the modern day footballer and all that is wrong with them.
Wenger for his part must share in this sham of a performance. Yes, his players let him down. But for too long his players have fallen apart, they lack discipline, focus, and above all courage. You can have all the ability and talent in the world, but if you have no bottle, and don’t have the balls to step up to the plate when it is required then best just to go home.
I could say I feel sorry for Wenger, but I don’t. I respect him as a manger and a coach. For what he has achieved in the game and the philosophy and brand of football he encourages his teams to play.
But the truth is he has had far to much power in this club for far too long, and he is destroying it from the inside out.
He constantly preaches about how well Arsenal are doing financially to try and cover his failings in pursuit of silverware over the last decade. But the reality is that Arsenal and Wenger have literally stalled and become stagnent over the last decade.
They remain frozen in time, and slowly but surely, as a result, a disease is seeping into the club… The worst disease of all in any sports organisation……complacency…. I hope for Arsenal’s sake, and Wenger’s, that he stands down at the end of the season.
Bayern were brillant that night, but Arsenal made then look great. They are contenders though, they have been knocking on the door the last few years. They have the players, but more importantly they have the hunger….and desire, something Arsenal players don’t even know the meaning of.
Man City 5 v Monaco 3
What a cracking game ! The game of the round so far. I’m glad I took the time out to watch it.
Both teams performed brillantly, well in attack at least ! Some absolutely shambolic defending but to be fair it just simply added to the game.
Monaco started really strongly and took the game to City. Their countering attacking football is so fast and effective and a joy to watch.
City were on the ropes when Monaco went 2 – 1 in front, the turning point in the game was when Falcao’s had his penalty saved at this stage. Had they gone 3- 1 up with 3 away goals in the bag, it would have broken the City players resolve and they would have crumbled.
But that penalty save re-ignited their fire and with it they scored the next 2 to put them back in control. But Falcao was not done yet. As he went and redeemed himself with a fine equalising 3rd goal. Chipping the keeper, or more like dinking it from the edge of the box. One of the goals of the tournament.
City went on and scored another 2 from there as they had the momentum but as a spectacle the game was a joy to watch.
Monaco showed that French football continues on an upward trajectory. And that Guardiola must be applauded for sticking by his attacking philosophy and principles, when under the kosh.
Bayer Leverkusen 2 v 4 Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid look the real deal. Cruising past Bayer, taking 4 away goals in the process and into the next round. Griezmann is a class, class act.
They will take some beating.
I thought though that Bayer were really disappointing on the night and lacked fight and belief.
Porto 0 v 2 Juventus
I got this one badly wrong in my predictions, along with a few others!
Juventus were simply far to strong and superior for Porto all over the pitch.
A total walk over and at no point were Porto ever in it, and never will be in the 2nd leg either. They would be as well to pass on the return leg and go on a sight seeing bus in Turin.
I expect Juventus to get to the final. They have a good mix of ability, experience, hunger and desire at the moment.
Sevilla 2 v 1 Leicester
Crap v crapper, no dis-respect to both teams but it was a pretty boring game.
It really shows the gulf in class between the Europa League and the Champions League when Sevilla have won it the last 3 years running. And you then see where they are in comparison in the Champions League.
They should never have had the 3rd placed teams from the Group stages going into the Europe League. It completely undermines the competition as a whole and turns it into The Losers League.
They were clearly the better team in this contest and should have won by alot more. But Leicester were really poor, I feel for Ranieri, but at the same time he has performed miracles with this team. End of the fairytale for Ranieri and Leicester.
Just had to update the end of this article now, as news came in shortly after releasing it that Ranieri has been sacked by Leicester City! Unbelievable….for languishing a point above the relegation zone. Yet they still remain in contention in the Champions League to progress with an away goal from the 1st leg.
Watch out Real Madrid, “Leicester City” mean business 🙂
For what it’s worth these were my picks for the Last 16 – And I suppose I’ll have to stick by them now. & the Barcelona firing mis-fits.
So Playnbrag’s Picks over 2 legs of the Last 16 are: