One of the factors that make the Champions League one of the most-watched football competitions in the world is the surprise that each match can contain. We still remember in 2013 the rise of Borussia Dortmund before finally falling in the semi-final against the great Real Madrid.
So, as with all champions league seasons, this 65th edition would not have been without surprises. The list of teams qualified for the round of 16 can testify it. Apart from the regulars of the final stages of the Champions League, new teams are now in the race for the Cup.
The qualified teams for the quarterfinals
Paris finally got to the quarterfinals
End of the curse! After three consecutive years during which PSG lost in the eighth-finals of the Champions League, the Paris club won Wednesday its ticket for the quarterfinals (2-0). In a Parc des Princes deprived of spectators because of the coronavirus epidemic, Thomas Tuchel’s men won against Borussia Dortmund. Unlike the lost first leg match 2-1, the Parisians put the ingredients at the start of the game.
Liverpool Fc, The defending champion beaten
The defending champion, one of the absolute favorite teams according to the betting odds, has fallen! Winner of the Champions League last year, Liverpool was eliminated in the round of 16. The Premier League leader with 25 points ahead of his runner-up lost 2-3 after extra time. Atlético Madrid left Anfield with a ticket to the quarterfinals. And the least we can say is that the men of Diego Simeone went to seek their qualification.
RB Leipzig and Atalanta Bergamo qualified for the quarterfinals
These are the first two teams to win their tickets to the quarterfinals of the competition. In front of his fans, RB Leipzig easily took the lead of Tottenham (3-0). The latter who 5 months after his first final league of champions dismissed Mauricio Pochettino quickly replaced by Jose Mourinho.
Marcel Sabitzer went there with his double in the first period while Emil Forsberg, on his first ball, put out the Spurs at the very end of the game. After winning the first leg (1-0), the German club qualified for the first time in its history for the quarter-finals of the European Cup.
First also at this stage of the competition for Atalanta, winner of Valencia in a game behind closed doors (3-4). Defeated 4-1 in the first leg, Kevin Gameiro’s teammates are eliminated despite the Frenchman’s two goals. Author of an exceptional match, Josip Ilicic scored a quadruple and caused a penalty.
The favorites for the 2nd day of the 2nd leg of the round of 16
That Barcelona had sacked Ernesto Valverde was not surprising; it was the moment of the decision which was shocking. The Blaugrana having chosen to dismiss their coach while the team was at the top of La Liga.
In addition, the club’s defence remains worrying, however, and Lionel Messi has struggled to score since Setien took over. However, at 32, the Argentinian will be more determined than most players to end the scarcity of the Barça in Champions League. Also, there have been signs in recent weeks that his partnership with Antoine Griezmann was starting to get interesting.
Cristiano Ronaldo is having the most prolific period of his career at Juventus, the Portuguese who scores all the time is pretty much the only positive point in Maurizio Sarri’s team at the moment. In reality, Juventus are struggling to implement Sarri’s possession-oriented style of play, primarily due to their long-standing shortcomings in the midfield, who are now likely to be deprived of Miralem Pjanic’s services for the 2nd leg against Lyon. The Bianconeri do not have a constant replacement for the Bosnian, which is problematic.
However, with Ronaldo in this form and Giorgio Chiellini back from injury, Juve cannot be ruled out as a potential qualified.
It’s been a strange season at the Allianz Arena. A month after racing Tottenham 7-2 in the Champions League, Bayern Munich were beaten 5-1 by Eintracht Frankfurt, which was the cause for the sacking of Niko Kovac, who was replaced by former assistant coach Hans Dieter Flick.
The Bavarians are now more like their former selves. After qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League with a record of 100% victories, Bayern returned to their usual place at the head of the Bundesliga against RB Leipzig. The German champions should be too strong for the young team of Frank Lampard at Chelsea but, with Philippe Coutinho who is still struggling to settle, we wonder if Bayern will be able to create as many opportunities for Lewandowski.
After a disappointing start with Zinedine Zidane’s second journey as coach of the team, Real Madrid are starting to regain their marks under the French coach who has led them to three consecutive historic titles in the Champions League. Indeed, Sergio Ramos and his teammates, provided the platform on which the ascent of the Blancos to the top of La Liga was launched, while the centre-forward Karim Benzema successfully led the attack in the absence of Eden Hazard, injured.
However, if Hazard returns to his best level in a timely manner for the round of 16 match against Manchester City, Real Madrid will have a serious boost in his quest for a fifth European Cup in seven seasons.