April 17th, 2019

Champions League Review & Preview

To briefly recap on last night’s games, Barcelona and Ajax progressed to the next round of the Uefa Champions League.  

Barcelona would have been left feeling slightly worried in the opening moments of their match against Manchester United, the 1-0 advantage they took from Old Trafford looked threatened early on when Manchester United had a flurry of early chances, most notably after just 30 seconds when Marcus Rashford hit the crossbar.

Despite the shaky start, the Catalan side started to look comfortable and Lionel Messi doubled the aggregate lead with a fantastic strike into the bottom left corner in the 16th minute, and four minutes later added another. A tame effort from the Argentine found its way under David De Gea, it will be one the Spanish goalkeeper would want to forget.  

At this stage the tie looked to be over, and to relinquish any doubts, Philippe Coutinho scored a stunner to make it 4-0 on aggregate. 

The surprise of the night came when Juventus crashed out to Ajax. A superb showing from the Dutch side allowed them to take an underdog victory and yet another giant-killing, in this fantastic Champions League run. 

Juventus went into the game with the advantage because of the away goals rule following their 1-1 draw in Amsterdam. Ajax went 1-0 down on the night to a Cristiano Ronaldo goal. That didn’t change much for Ajax, they had to score regardless, and that’s exactly what they did just six minutes later when Donny Van De Beek slotted the ball past Wojciech Szczęsny.

The 19-year-old Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt, headed his side into the lead in the 67th minute making it 3-2 on aggregate and that’s how it stayed. 

Tonight, we turn our attention to who will join them in the last four. Porto have quite a difficult task tonight if they’re to progress, they trail 2-0 from the first leg at Anfield.  

To recap, the first leg got off to an entertaining start, Liverpool appeared to be on top form with their high-powered attacking trio of Mane, Firmino and Salah looking to be in a typically menacing mood.  

The Merseyside club went 1-0 up in the 5th minute, Sadio Mane took the ball past a couple of Porto defenders, found Roberto Firmino he played the ball on to Naby Keita, and the deflected shot found it’s way past Iker Casillas.  
 
Provider turned scorer for the second goal in the 26th minute as “Bobby” Firmino tapped home a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross to double the Reds’ lead at Anfield.  

At this stage the tie looked to be in danger of slipping away from Porto, but the Portuguese side, limited Liverpool from that stage on and even had a few chances to score themselves.  

Maybe it was a more resolute approach to the game from Porto, maybe Liverpool took the foot of the gas, but either way, a tie that looked like it could have been over in the first leg is not. It’s still a pretty difficult mountain to climb for Porto, but it is not the Everest it potentially could have been. 

This could be a highly entertaining game; Porto must attack and Liverpool love to attack.  

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Manchester City v Spurs was arguably the most mouth-watering fixture of the quarter-finals draw. Two English heavyweights battling it out for European glory, and to keep the boxing analogy going, it was round one to Tottenham. 

The North London side will take a 1-0 lead to the Etihad thanks to a good- if not somewhat fortunate goal from Son. The South Korean forward was played in from Christian Eriksen, however after a poor touch, the ball looked to be going out of play, Son kept the ball alive dribbled back into a shooting position and his effort went through Ederson into the City goal. 

This tie hangs massively in the balance, and despite having the lead, Tottenham will do well to hold on to it. Manchester City is expected to have Kevin De Bryune available from the start, unlike the first leg, meanwhile, Spurs will be without talisman striker Harry Kane.
 
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