Last night we wrapped up the first leg of Champions League quarterfinals. Who came out on top?
Juventus Vs Barcelona
The first mouthwatering fixture of the lot as the Italian champions locked horns with the Spanish giants. This was sort of a rematch of the 2015 UCL final, in which Barcelona came out on top. But 2 years is a long time in football and Wednesday’s fixture only affirmed that belief. Allegri fielded his favourite 4-5-1 in search of the perfect blend of attack and defence. Barcelona tweaked their matchwinning formation against PSG & went with a 4-3-3. Barcelona started the game brightly and kept the ball quite comfortably, although, Juve created the first chance as Pjanic’s curling free kick was headed straight at the keeper by Higuain. Minutes later, Cuadrado ran through the right and give a gentle pass to Dybala, the Argentine surrounded by Catalans wrapped his foot around and hit it in a flash. 1-0! A superb curler slotted at the far post. Barca came back stronger as Messi’s through ball cut Juve’s resistance in half to set Iniesta up. But a 39-year-young Gianluigi Buffon had no intention of smudging his sheet. Juve were happy to absorb the pressure, sitting deep and hitting on counters. And on the 22nd minute, the sensational Argentine doubled his tally. It was a sweet ball from the left by Mandzukic but the way he tucked it away was exceptional. Barcelona were still trying to make something out of their lion share of possession but Juventus’ resistance just won’t give in. 10 minutes into the second half and it was Chiellini who broke the shackles and added another for the hosts. 3-0 the match ended, another mountain to climb for Barcelona in 7 days. Will Juventus prevail? Or is there another ‘Remontada’ on the cards.
Juventus 3 – 0 Barcelona
(Dybala x2, Chiellini)
Borussia Dortmund Vs AS Monaco
Due to a horrific accident that prevailed on Wednesday night, this mouthwatering fixture was postponed. Dortmund fans opened their homes to the visiting fans and reminded us once again why football is the grandest of all. Marc Bartra was injured and missed the tie. Thomas Tuchel picked his strongest available XI and kept doing what BVB are known for, counter-pressing. Monaco took a little time to settle in but soon enough they started to look threatening. 16 minutes on the clock and Mbappe took a tumble inside the opposition’s box and won a penalty. It was a harsh, to say the least, and Fabinho’s horrific penalty served poetic justice. Monaco did score couple of minutes later as Lemar’s brilliant cross from the left was somehow tucked in by Mbappe. Monaco got the all-important away goal & the misery continued for the home side. 16 minutes later another great ball from the left and this time it was Sven Bender who headed the ball into his own net, he looked uncomfortable all night, but this was just horrendous from the German. Dembele pulled one back for the hosts and sprinkled some life into the match before Mbappe doubled his tally and Monaco’s cushion. Shinji Kagawa missed a sitter earlier but managed to calmly slot the ball this time around to end the game at 2-3. A tough game awaits for Tuchel’s men at Stade Louis one week from now.
Borussia Dortmund Vs AS Monaco
(Dembele, Kagawa) (Mbappe x2, Bender)
Bayern Munich Vs Real Madrid
Bayern’s last home UCL defeat came 16 home games ago as the visitors, Real Madrid thumped 4 goals past their iconic stopper, Manuel Neuer. But this is not Pep’s Bayern anymore, they now had Carlo Ancelotti, the mastermind behind Bayern’s 13/14 devastation. Against him was his apprentice, Zinedine Zidane. The game started brightly for Bayern as Real couldn’t get out of their own half. After 4 unsuccessful corner attempts, Vidal thumped the 5th one home as Nacho lost track of the Chilean. Minutes later he got the chance to double Bayern’s cushion from the spot but somehow skyed it over. Real went into the second half trailing by a goal, but Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t like how the scoreline looked. Carvajal’s cross from the right was tucked in by the Galactico to restore parity. Javi Martinez foul on Ronaldo meant he was forced out of the pitch. Then it was all too easy for the holders, they dominated the game till the final whistle and Ronaldo doubled his tally in the process. His second goal helped him to another milestone, 100 goals in European competition. Real will take a 1 goal advantage at the Bernabeu and I have this feeling that this tie is far from over.
Bayern Munich 1 – 2 Real Madrid
(Vidal) (Ronaldo X2)
Atletico Madrid Vs Leicester City
Under Craig Shakespeare, Leicester has looked a lot different, strong, confident and urgent. But they were at one of the toughest stadiums in the world, the Vincente Calderon. Simeone’s men are all in for snatching the big one. With La Liga practically out of reach, they fielded their strongest XI. The first half saw complete Atletico domination, Leicester were gasping for air and soon enough the deadlock broke. A slight touch on Griezmann and he tumbled inside the area, the contact looked outside the box but was calmly converted. That was the only goal of the match and at hindsight, Leicester should be happy with the result. All to play for at the King Power.