Comebacks, upsets and a Lionel Messi masterclass! Just another round in the Champions League knockout stages!
The Champions League quarterfinals have now been played and we know who is in the semi-finals. There were some high profile fixtures in this round with Man United vs Barcelona and Spurs vs Man City the biggest ones. In the other two games saw Liverpool take on Porto and Juventus play surprise package Ajax. Going into this round Man City were the favourites to go all the way with Barcelona next.
Man United vs Barcelona
Man United were going to need to perform the heroics of the round before if they were going to get through. Barcelona were the heavy favourites going into this fixture, especially with United still having injuries in their squad.
The first leg was at Old Trafford and United were aiming to perform much better than they did there against PSG. The visitors got off to a great start through an own goal. They were unlucky to not be 2-0 by half time thanks to good goalkeeping from De Gea. United never seemed to really threaten Barca and the second half was fairly uneventful. The game finished 1-0 with United having it all to do at the Nou Camp.
At the Nou Camp United started much brighter. They hit the bar in the first minute through Rashford and then had another chance through Mctominay. Unfortunately for the visitors though Barca got another early goal. A fantastic finish from Messi outside the box gave them a 1-0 lead in the game. This was doubled minutes later after a Messi shot was fumbled into the net by De Gea. Barca ensured the tie was over in the second half when Coutinho scored from distance. Striking the ball into the top right corner.
Barca went through to the next round to face either Liverpool or Porto. Barca are now the favourites to win the competition on Bet365 at 6/4.
Man City vs Spurs
Prior to this game, most fans thought City would go through and carry on their quest for the quadruple. Spurs we welcoming City to their new ground for the first leg and were hoping it would help them to beat Pep.
The first leg was an odd one. Pep dropped Sane and De Bruyne to the bench and City didn’t press like we are used to seeing. City had a chance early on to take the lead. VAR awarded them a controversial penalty after a Danny Rose handball. However, it didn’t matter as Aguero’s penalty was brilliantly saved by Lloris. The new ground seemed to help as Spurs scored later on through Son to take a 1-0 lead to the Etihad.
City were still confident over beating Spurs despite being 1-0 down on aggregate. This game was easily the best game of the Champions League this year. Inside the first 11 minutes, we had four goals. Sterling scored to get City on their way but Son replied twice to make it 2-1. Then to add to the scoring Bernardo slotted one in at the near post to make it the most incredible 10 minutes.
The scoring wasn’t finished there. Sterling got his second on the 20th minute to give the hosts a 3-2 lead at half time and still needing one goal. They got that goal through the club record goalscorer Sergio Aguero 15 minutes into the second half. It seemed as if Spurs had nothing left as they were missing Kane, a man who helps them with big goals a lot. But upstep Llorente. The Spanish striker turned in a corner at the front past that came of his knee/arm to get them back on top.
With two minutes to go, it appeared as if the quadruple was off. Then Sterling popped up again as scored. City fans and Guardiola went crazy. But then VAR came back to ruin the day. It appeared as if Aguero, who assisted Sterling, was offside. Spurs held on for two more minutes and went through. Spurs are one of the outsiders to win on Bet365 at 9/2.
Ajax vs Juventus
Ajax had completed an amazing comeback in the round before beating Real Madrid and were hoping to surprise again. Juve were hoping their record signing Ronaldo would be the difference for them to go on and win the Champions League.
The first leg was a very even contest. Ajax held their own and made a lot of chances. But some things are just a certain in life and Ronaldo scoring in the Champions League is one. He scored the games first goal heading in the cross from Cancelo. However, Ajax didn’t roll over. After half time they came out flying and David Neres scored a great goal to get his side back in the game. The hosts created lots of good chances but couldn’t convert any. The game finished 1-1 and Ajax had to go to Juventus and score.
The second leg started much the same way. A Ronaldo header and Juventus felt one more and it was job done. Ajax though didn’t panic and knew their chances would come. Van De Beek, the young Dutch midfielder, made up for a sitter earlier on. He found the bottom corner of the Juventus net with a fantastic finish. Ajax then took control of the game and their chacnce came. Their young captain De Ligt lead by example and scored through a header of his own in the second half. The visitors held on and performed another upset.
They will now play Spurs in the semi-finals where they are also 9/2 to go on and win the competition.
Liverpool vs Porto
Deemed the team everyone wanted to draw, Liverpool were made up that they faced Porto. Liverpool were expected to go through this round and beat them 5-0 last year in Porto.
Liverpool hosted Porto in the first leg. Keita opened the scoring in the fourth minute after getting his second goal for the club. He got lucky with it as it took a deflection off a Porto defender. The hosts then doubled their lead on the 25th minute. A fantastic pass from Alexander Arnold found Firmono unmarked at the back post. The Brazilian forward passed the ball into the net to make it 2-0. Liverpool didn’t score any more goals in the game and it finished 2-0. Porto will have been annoyed to not take an away goal with them considering the chances they had.
The second leg seemed a formality. Liverpool knew one goal and this tie was going to be over. Porto started the better of the two sides and again created good chances but didn’t take them. Liverpool though put the game to bed in the 25th minute. A Mane goal and the tie was over. They added to their lead in the second half with goals from Van Dijk, Salah and Firmino. Eventually, Porto did convert one of their chances and gave their fans something to celebrate.
This was a good performance from Liverpool who will now take on Barcelona in the semi-finals. Liverpool are 5/2 to win the competition on Bet365.