The first legs of the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League were rounded off last night. But, who’s going to progress?
This week has seen some unusual venues for the first knockout stage of the European competition, with select countries putting travel restrictions in place (Spain and Germany mainly).
If you weren’t aware, Atletico Madrid played their home tie against Chelsea in Bucharest, Hungary – a place that is actually closer to London. Strange.
Nonetheless, there were some close contests in this week’s games, involving two English sides both away from home, so let’s take a look at who’s set to take their place in the quarter final of Europe’s elite tournament.
Also, all the “away” teams managed to pull off a win – a rarity in the competition, for sure.
What started off as a rather slow and tense game was suddenly opened up by the stunning overhead kick by Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud in the 68th minute of the game. Seriously, what a goal.
It took four or five minutes to decide whether they wanted to give Giroud his belter of a goal, and after deciding he wasn’t offside, the only goal of the game was awarded.
Atletico are known for their tough defending, and they will always have that side of the game nailed on. Chelsea struggled to break them down in 90 minutes, in an attempt to look for an opening.
However, to say they are top of the Spanish La Liga, we definitely didn’t see the best of Atletico Madrid. We know they’ll be disappointed, and watching them, in truth, we were too.
That’s not to take anything away from Thomas Tuchel’s men, who beat the La Liga leaders away from home in the most competitive club tournament in the world – a very good result, indeed.
Bayern Munich showing once again why they are considered the best team in the world. Lazio are a tough side to go to for any team, but travelling to Italy seemed to be no problem whatsoever for Bayern.
We also got to see English/German wonderkid Jamal Musiala (he officially picked to represent Germany, which is rubbish) score a smartly-placed goal. He lined up alongside ex Man City winger Leroy Sane, who played a pivotal role in the dominant win.
We didn’t think it was even worth mentioning at this point, but yes Lewandowski did score – he put the ball in the back of the net within nine minutes. Nowadays, we just assume he scores basically every game, and to be honest you should too.
If Lazio come back from this away from home against the reigning champions, then the world has officially gone mad.
Manchester City continued their great run of form with a comfortable win against Borussia Monchengladbach (we’ll just call them Gladbach, it’s much easier).
Goals from Bernardo Silva in the first, and then Gabriel Jesus in the second means that City will travel back to Manchester with an all-important away win.
It also means Gladbach have to turn their recent poor form into something amazing to progress from this one. They haven’t performed well in the Bundesliga in recent times, finding themselves outside the top four.
Gladbach also had to bring on their main man Marcus Thuram (son of former defender Lillian, for those that remember) who has recovered from a main injury. Unfortunately for them, that wasn’t enough, and couldn’t manage a goal.
A sending off within 17 minutes of the game isn’t going to help anyone. Well, it didn’t help Atalanta at all, who had Remo Freuler shown a red for a last-man tackle. It’s a debatable one, but the only decision that mattered was the ref’s to send him to the showers early.
From this point on, it was Madrid who looked to make the most of the man advantage, but never really got in behind Atalanta who defended for their lives.
The Italian side also had a few chances of their own, and probably should have taken them to give themselves a better chance in the tie.
A late winner from Madrid defender Ferland Mendy in the 86th minute resulted in a victory for Zidane’s men, who can take a crucial away goal into their second leg, giving themselves a better opportunity to progress to the quarter’s of the Champions League.
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