The quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League are on their way, and with the first leg behind us, this week’s matches left us plenty to look forward to—in the 2nd leg. Let’s have a recap of the quarter finals first leg.
Juventus 3 vs Barcelona 0
What appeared to be a very balanced game between the Spanish giants and the “Vecchia Signora” turned out to be quite one sided as the Catalans face yet another nightmare second leg as they will look to rally back and win the next match as they are down by three goals. The great defensive efforts and counter-attacking play put out by Juventus and its 4-4-2 formation proved to be quite the challenge for Barcelona’s 4-3-3 traditional possession game. Juventus tactic of patiently waiting in their own field looking for a mistake or a chance to recover the ball during Barcelona’s possessions, to quickly counter attack them and face a very unorganized open defense, proved effective as a very on-form Paulo Dybala scored two goals on offensive transitions to give the team from Turin the lead.
Barcelona never appeared comfortable during the game; Messi suffered to be his usual self; due to some tight defending from Sandro, Neymar never managed to get past his Brazil teammate Dani Alves, and Luis Suarez lost every duel against Italians, Bonucci and Chiellini. Every time Barcelona tried to attack they would hit a wall, and to make it worse, that wall bounced back and countered them when they were most vulnerable. Eventually Juventus gained complete control of the game and sealed away the match and possibly the quarter final during a corner, where Chiellini completely overpowered Mascherano to head the ball into the net and make it a final Score on 3-0. Things are not looking well for the Spanish side as they face a difficult comeback in the next leg.
Borussia Dortmund 2 vs Monaco 3
Due to the bombing attacks on the Borussia Dortmund team bus, the match was postponed and played 24 hours later. This wasn’t the only problem that left the attack though. Not only was Dortmund starter defender Marc Bartra injured and unable to play, but the team appeared to be greatly unfocused during the match, making several mistakes, especially at defense, which cost them the match, and maybe a chance to move to the next round.
Without Bartra, Dortmund was forced to change its usual tactical formation, into a 3-2-3-2 that left them completely unorganized during defending against Monaco’s more balanced 4-3-3 who were already leading the match 2-0 at halftime as visitors due to some bad defending on a cross that turned into a goal scored by Mbappe, and an own goal by Dortmund defender, Sven Bender. The Germans managed to improve their performance greatly after American Christian Pulisic, and Turkey international, Nuri Sahin came onto the field. The American young star managed to break the German defense by doing runs on the right sideline every chance he got. Eventually one of his crosses went in and gave Dembele the chance he needed to score a goal and get Dortmund back in the game. But right when the Germans were gaining momentum, once again lack of concentration would damage Dortmund. In a wrong series of passes made by the German defenders, Mbappe appeared again, stealing the ball and being able to get a clear breakaway against the goalkeeper that he would manage to finish in goal to make it 3-1 in favor of the French side.
Sahin gained control of the midfield and allowed for Kagawa more freedom at the top of the field that gave way to a late fantastic goal from the Japanese star to end the game in a 3-2 win by Monaco. Keeping hope alive for the Dortmund. Now on the next game, Monaco has not only the lead, but also a huge advantage, as they now have two away goals, that in case of a 3-3 tie gives them the right to go on to the next round. This forces Borussia Dortmund to score at least two goals on the French soil in order for them to move on to the semi-finals.
Atletico Madrid 1 vs Leicester 0
What was probably the least exciting game of this round of the UCL, Atletico Madrid managed to get a lead on the series due to a penalty scored by French Star, Antoine Griezmann. The Spanish side managed to keep control of the match during most of the game. Although they came out on a very offensive 4-4-2 formation that at times seemed more like a 4-2-4, they struggled to create clear chances against a stubborn and well organized Leicester defense, that what lacked in speed and creativity in attack and midfield play, compensated with some great defending. With a possession of only 32% and only 7 shots on target, a clearly dominated Leicester will face Atletico at home to try and keep their fairytale going, and dreams of a UCL semifinal. However, it is important to note that they were similarly dominated by Sevilla in the first leg of their last 16 tie, but turned the game around to reach this stage of the competition. Atletico has the lead, but it is a minimum advantage, especially against the always unpredictable Leicester City.
Bayern Munich 1 vs Real Madrid 2
In a very competitive match, Real Madrid managed to take home the advantage and turn around a 1-0 game after some key mistakes made by Bayern Munich. The game started out very balanced, as both teams took turns dominating the match. Both teams making clear chances on target using 4-3-3 formations creating a series of back-to-back counter attacks on each other. But just as the “Galacticos” appeared to be playing their best and slowly gained more dominance in the match, Arturo Vidal appeared on a corner kick to head the ball into the net and give the Germans the lead. The first key moment of the night came right at the end of the half where referee Nicola Rizzoli awarded a wrong penalty when Franck Ribery’s shot hit Carvajal on his shoulder, and he called a handball. The penalty and chance for a larger lead by the Bayern was missed by Arturo Vidal, whose shot went far atop the crossbar. Afterward Real Madrid would gain confidence and manage to score after a crossed ball was hit into the net by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo to make it a tie game. The second key moment of the night came when Javi Martinez was sent off for a double yellow card. After this Real Madrid took complete control and dominance of the game, erasing Bayern from the pitch and generating one clear chance after the other. Manuel Neuer managed to keep the game tied shot after shot but eventually, after a lot of insisting, Cristiano Ronaldo managed to receive another cross and put it between the German Goalkeepers legs to give Real Madrid the comeback win, and his 100th goal in European competitions. Now Bayern Munich will travel to the Santiago Bernabeu where they will look to regroup and face the “merengues” in the second leg, where they need to win by two goals, due to Real Madrid’s 2 away goals advantage.
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