With the quarter finals of the UEFA champions league behind us, we have the top 4 teams in Europe that will look to reach the final match in Cardiff
Juventus 0 – Barcelona 0 (3-0 on Aggregate)
Let’s start the Champions league: Quarter Finals second Leg Recap with the Juventus vs Barcelona match.
There was no miracle comeback this time from the catalans against Juventus. In what appeared to be a replay of the first leg, Barcelona struggled to get past the black and white Italian wall proposed by the team from Turin. In what appeared to be a clear replay of the first match, Juventus came out with a 4-4-2, that at times, became a 4-4-1, clearly more worried about defending than attacking, only looking for a lost Barcelona ball, or mistake, to build a quick counter attack.
Barcelona and Luis Enrique tried, at one point in the game their 4-3-3 became a 3-4-3 to try and be more aggressive and offensive, but neither tactics or talent from Messi, Suarez, and Neymar, seemed to be enough to take down Bonucci, Chiellini, and Buffon. Barcelona had 19 chances on goal but 18 were off target. They failed to create quality chances and a more vertical attack, many times making too many passes on build up, that ended in a lost possession, and sometimes, even in a dangerous counterattack by Juve. The Italians showed great discipline, patience, and some very speedy counterattacks. As they reach the semifinals they will clearly be a tough team to beat.
Borussia Dortmund 1- Monaco 3 (3-6 on Aggregate)
Monaco proved that it plays much better at home that it does away. The French team came out more offensive that the first leg, using a 4-4-2 formations that at times appeared to be a 4-2-4 with Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar joining Mbappe and Falcao on the attack. This proved to be quite the challenge for the German defense, which seemed fragile again, and that missed Marc Bartra. Not only that, but Dortmund again tried a 3-4-3 formation that left their defense too open for opposing counterattacks.
A shot from Mendy rebounded on Borussia Dortmund’s goalkeeper, who left the ball inside the box at Mappes’ will, to open the score at the 3rd minute for the French team. The Monaco attacked continued early on and Falcao got another early goal for the French at the 17th minute.
The German visitors came back from halftime refreshed, and managed to get an early second half goal by Marco Reus to keep hope alive. But just when things were looking better for the Germans and Monaco’s defense was looking shaky, Borussia got another goal nine minutes before the game ended, and with that, ending Borussia Dortmund’s aspirations to reach Cardiff. Clearly the bombing incident on the first leg paid its toll on the Germans, but Monaco also appeared to be a very balanced team with a great attack that appeared when it needed to seal the playoff. It will be interesting to see what the French can do in the next round of the UCL.
Atletico de Madrid 1- Leicester 1 (2-1 on Aggregate)
In the end, Leicester came up short against Atletico, and the underdog dream is over for the English side. Leicester came out more offensively, this time playing at home, and although using a 4-4-1-1 formation, the team’s conviction to go up and attack made it quite a challenge for Atletico. The Spanish team came out more defensively this time, but proved that all they needed was one good counter attack to come away with a spot on the next round, when Saul scored at the 26th minute. This forced the Foxes to make a miracle comeback, a miracle that almost happened. Leicester played well and managed to dominate much of the match, they had a conviction to score and not give up, and it showed on the tactical part, when Craig Shakespeare’s team changed into a three- defender formation. After several chances created and much insisting Vardy managed to score at the 61st minute. The Foxes kept attacking and they managed to make Atletico suffer, almost scoring that second goal that would have made the miracle much more realistic. But needing two goals in 30 minutes proved too much a hurdle for the English team. Atletico toughed it out, and defended their lead, eventually they managed to come out with a tied game that made them pass to the next round. Leicester can come out of this loss with their head held high, while Atletico will look to face the next round with more doubts than certainties as they appeared to suffer too much to make it into the semifinals.
Bayern Munich 2- Real Madrid 4 after Extra time (6-3 on Aggregate)
In a mistake filled and controversial match, Real Madrid managed to come out with the win at the Spanish capital. Bayern managed to dominate the first part of the first half with Real Madrid also answering to the pressure with constant chances as well. It was quite unbelievable that the first half finished 0-0 after so many chances. It did not stay that way for long. After a dive taken by Arjen Robben, and the first referee mistake, the Germans were awarded a penalty that Lewandowsky converted into the first goal of the night. Bayern Munich went all out on attack, as the penalty proved to be a heavy blow for the Spanish team, Real Madrid were on the ropes for several minutes as the Germans manage to create many chances on goal. But with 14 minutes left, Ronaldo would appear to head the ball into the net. Bayern managed to come out of the problem shortly and managed to score almost immediately after, because of an own goal by Sergio Ramos.
And so, with a very balanced game with opportunities for both teams, the game headed into extra time. In a key moment of the game Arturo Vidal was sent off after a rather harsh second yellow card by the referee, which appeared to be more of a reaction the Chilean’s constant rough play throughout the entire match, than the actual challenge on Marco Asensio–earning him the second booking.
Bayern tried to protect themselves after being one man short through possession, but this proved difficult and tiresome as the minutes passed and Real Madrid increased the pressure. After much insisting by the Spanish side, with seconds left in the first half of extra time Ronaldo received the ball alone, on a clear offside position, and made it 2-2.
After that a brilliant run, taking out five defenders using pure speed and stamina, Marcelo managed to get in front of the goalkeeper to give Ronaldo the pass that would give Madrid the goal earning them the spot on the UCL semifinals. Once Madrid were through and Bayern broken, Asensio made it four to end the nightmare for Bayern Munich.
After taking advantage of referee mistakes, Real Madrid managed to break through to the next round on a very tight competitive quarter final against Bayern. But even with the referee incidents Real Madrid appeared always one small step ahead of the German side. We will see if in the next round the Spanish giants manage to get one step ahead to reach the final in Cardiff.
Semifinals: Road to Cardiff
Real Madrid vs Atlético de Madrid
Juventus vs Monaco