The last time four English teams made it into the last eight of the UEFA Champions League was in 2009, which saw Manchester United progress all the way into the final before falling to an overloaded Barcelona whom ushered a certain Lionel Messi’s breakthrough into the first team.
This year, the English contingent not only made it to the quarter finals, but did it in spectacular fashion, primarily against the Bundesliga sides.
Tottenham Hotspurs neutralized Bundesliga league leaders Borussia Dortmund with a 3-0 win in the first leg despite not having Harry Kane on the squad. The return leg to Signal Iduna Park was expected to see some fireworks between the two high-scoring sides but Dortmund could not break down Spurs’ defence despite having 65% of the possession.
Jaden Sancho showed glimpses of why he is the hottest commodity on the market now with explosive pace down the right wing with flawless deliveries but the forwards could not convert them into goals. Spurs were resilient in their defense and Kane capitalized on some miscommunication between defenders to score an easy one-on-one against Roman Burki to book their place in the next round following the 1-0 victory.
Manchester City on the other hand, absolutely annihilated Schalke – a 7-0 rout which showcased their potent attacking prowess. The first leg’s 3-2 scoreline was more than flattering to the German side, as Nabil Bentaleb scored two priceless penalties to make it seem like a close match. City’s Nicolas Otamendi was also handed a red card in the 68th minute to ‘even out’ the talent on the pitch.
Back to the Citizen’s home at the Etihad, a buffet of goals awaited the team. Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Bernado Silva, Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden got on the score sheet. An assertion of dominance by Pep Guardiola, or an official issue of warning to the other teams of what to expect.
Despite a stalemate in the first leg, Liverpool stunned Bayern Munich this morning with a shocking 3-1 win at the Allianz Arena with forward Sadio Mane bagging a brace. Critics and several pundits were quick to jump on Liverpool’s recent fall in form, notably Jose Mourinho who declaring that Bayern would easily win this match-up at home.
Mane’s first goal was a sight to behold. The Senegalese controlled a well-timed lob from Virgil Van Dijk, and a quick shimmy shook off Manuel Neuer to curve it into an empty net. Bayern then got back in the game with Serge Gnabry forcing an own goal out of Joel Matip. Liverpool regained the lead after Virgil Van Djik beat Manual Neuer with a powerful, well-placed header off a corner. After Mane’s second, there was no chance of Bayern getting back in the game as Liverpool secured a spot in the quarter-finals.
Bayern struggled offensively, only securing two shots on target for the whole 90 minutes.
Manchester United also shocked the world with a 3-1 win over Paris St Germain coming off a 2-0 first leg loss to the Ligue 1 leaders. A controversial comeback that included the use of the recently implemented VAR. One which would put Marcus Rashford on the penalty spot in stoppage time to secure a much needed goal to send them through. The Parc des Princes stadium grew silent as the ball went into the top corner.
Brazilian star Neymar’s had harsh words as he posted on Instagram, “It’s a disgrace. Four guys who know nothing about football watch a slow-motion replay in front of the television. “What can [Kimpembe] do with his hand while his back is turned? Go f**k yourselves!”
Could this year be the year we see a Premier League team hoist the coveted trophy? After all, in 2008, the finals were between Manchester United and Chelsea.
Earlier this week, Cristiano Ronaldo staged an amazing comeback for Juventus with a hat-trick against Atletico Madrid to win 3-2 on aggregate while ?Barcelona dispatched Lyon as Lionel Messi got involved in four of the five goals scored against the French. Ajax’s 4-1 mockery of Real Madrid and Porto’s 117th minute penalty against Roma draws the curtains on the round of 16 and its drama for now.
The favorites for the competition still remains Juventus and Barcelona, who has time proven again their experience in the later stages of the tournament. While they face stiff adversaries from the English sides, the upcoming draw could turn the sides against each other, meeting familiar foes do seem like an advantage, right?
The draw for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will be on Friday, March 15 in Nyon, Switzerland.
The quarter-final first legs take place on April 9-10 with the return legs on April 16-17.
The semi-final first legs are on April 30-May 1 before the second legs on May 7-8.
The final will take place at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Saturday, June 1.
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