Praveen Yadav | Oct 17, 2021 | 0
Champions League has a lot of surprises
The Champions League has started with the same precautions that were taken by the leagues to continue the tournament. There have however been changes in the format of the tournament and as well as with the regulations that the players and staff have to follow. The tournament will now be a single leg affair, unlike the traditional two-leg format. All the matches will be taking in Lisbon itself in order to maintain the safety of the players. Two Athletico Madrid players Angel Correa and Sime Vrsaljko tested positive for Coronavirus as a result of which the whole Athletico squad was tested for Corona Virus which delayed the arrival of the only Madrid side in this year’s Champions League.
The round of 16’s second leg was yet to be concluded and the Champions League restarted with the second leg on 8th of August with the matches between Manchester City and Real Madrid. The first leg between the two sides ended with the scoreline of 2-1 in the favour of Manchester who had the advantage of two away goals. The second leg didn’t have Sergio Ramos who was suspended in the first leg due to the red card was out of the squad for the second leg. The first goal was conceded by Real due to the high pressing done by city and Jesus forcing Rafael Varane to commit a mistake in their own box and assisting Raheem Sterling for the first goal. Benzema soon equaled the score but it was not enough as Real needed at least two away goals. In the second half, City dominated the game throughout and eventually, Gabriel Jesus scored giving City a lead and the Real Madrid side was eliminated from the Champions League.
The second match was played between Lyon and Juventus where Lyon had the one-goal lead from the first leg between them. The match was an equal affair until the referee gave a penalty to Lyon from a Bentancur tackle which seemed like a legit tackle but the referee chose not to refer to VAR. Memphis Depay gave an important away goal lead to Lyon after his Panenka penalty. The lead was 2-0 on aggregate which meant Juventus now needed 3 goals to advance to the quarter-finals. In the 43rd minute, Pjanic’s free-kick struck Depay’s arm which was close to his body but the referee pointed yet another spot-kick without referring the VAR yet again, Ronaldo converted the spot-kick to lessen the gap in the scoreline. It was Cristiano Ronaldo once again who scored an amazing long-range howler beating the Lyon keeper but the score line meant that Juventus was yet again knocked out of the Champions League on the basis of away goal advantage that Lyon had. Sarri was relieved of his duties as Juventus Manager after an official statement by the Juventus Board.
On the 9th of August, the remaining round of 16 matches were played and the top 8 of the Champions League would be finalized, the matches were between Bayern Munich and Chelsea whereas the second match was between Napoli and Barcelona.
The first match was dominated by the Bayern side from the kick-off and it eventually won them a penalty in the starting 8 minutes of the game which was successfully converted by Robert Lewandowski. Lewandowski was back on the sheets only this time as he provided an assist to Perisic who gave Bayern a two-goal lead. Tammy Abraham, the Chelsea striker, opened the scoreline for his team but the last nail in the coffin was yet another goal and assist by Lewandowski who is in an excellent form throughout the season in every tournament. Bayern was throughout the match the better side and it never felt like it was playing against an English side. Chelsea was more like a lost side still recovering from the loss of Eden Hazard, Lampard has been trying his best to make Chelsea a competitive side but yet again it is a time taking process.
The next match was between Napoli and Barcelona, the first leg ended in a draw and the decision as to who will advance into the last 8 was to be decided. The game was not so much in the favour of the Barcelona side as Napoli exploited their chances of having 18 attempts on the goal as compared to Barcelona’s 8, had it not been a promising performance from Lenglet and Pique the Catalan side would be out of the Champions League. Messi as promising as he has been throughout his career for Barcelona yet again presented himself with a par excellence performance at times falling deep in the defense has changed his gameplay a lot, scoring a goal from an almost missed opportunity and winning a penalty single-handedly which was comfortably converted by Suarez. at times falling deep in the defense has changed his gameplay a lot. It was a header from Lenglet that opened the scoreline for Barcelona in the 10th minute of the game. A tackle inside the Barcelona box by Rakitic gave Napoli a chance to score from a penalty which was successfully executed by Insigne. The final score of the match was I the favor of Barcelona with a 4-1 score on aggregate it became the final team to enter the top 8.
The quarter-finals will start on 13th August where PSG will face the Atlanta side, PSG being one of the favorites to win the Champions League this year it will be hard-fought battle to enter the last 4. The next day it will be Athletico Madrid facing RB Leipzig, where Athletico may have a fairly more advantage with the far more experience in the League. Barcelona will be facing Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals which is going to be the most competitive match in the last 8, having won ten Champions League titles between them and the only quarter-finalists who have won the coveted trophy. On Sunday it will be Manchester City facing Lyon, which again will be a hard-fought battle for the place in semi-finals as Manchester City eliminated Real Madrid whereas the Lyon side successfully knocked Juventus out of the Tournament.
Due to the current situation, the UEFA has decided to wrap the current tournament as fast as possible, due to the same reason the teams have to play in quick intervals. The quarter-finals started with PSG and Atlanta facing each other, the game was throughout dominated by PSG with Neymar missing almost every chance he got to score. Atlanta took an one goal lead in the 26th minute which was maintained by them until the 90th minute when all of a sudden PSG scored a goal, again an important key pass made by Neymar which was eventually converted into a goal by Marquinhos. In a span of 3 added minutes PSG took the lead given by Choupo Moting, that was the final goal of the match and PSG saved themselves from an early knockout at the dying minutes of the game. The next game was between Athletico Madrid and RB Leipzig, Athletico was the favourites for the match but an excellent performance by Leipzig shocked the Athletico side. The game was balanced but it was the Leipzig side that was taking a lot more chances to score and were finally able to net one in the 51st minute, which was soon equalled by Joao Felix in the 71st minute through a spot kick. The dramatic late goal by Adams with two minutes remaining in the clock marks the first time the Bundesliga club has reached the last four of the competition and sets up a clash with Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday for a spot in the final.
It was time for the other semi-finalists to be decided, the match between Barca and Bayern was anticipated as the most competitive matches in the tournament. The reality was far from what the anticipation was, Bayern Munich seemed like a barbarian side on the field whose purpose was to rip the aging Barca side. It was the first time in its history that Barca conceded more than 5 goals in its Champions League campaign, the salt to the wounds was the cameo by Coutinho who in his small stint produced 2 goals and an assist. Barcelona was yet again knocked out of the league only this time with huge humiliation conceding 8 goals in a single leg.
City started as firm favorites but came out second best against a fiercely determined Lyon in a game that swung on controversy and uncharacteristic errors in the closing stages. Lyon went ahead in the 24th minute with Maxwell Cornet’s smart finish but City, lifeless as Guardiola chose to play a three-man central defense, looked to have been revived by Kevin de Bruyne’s precise strike from Raheem Sterling’s pass after 69 minutes.
Former Celtic striker Moussa Dembele, on as a substitute, restored Lyon’s lead in contentious circumstances 11 minutes from time, the video assistant referee ignoring what appeared to be an obvious foul by the goalscorer before he ran on to beat Ederson. City pressed for the equalizer but Sterling was guilty of an atrocious miss, somehow sending his finish over the top of an open goal from Gabriel Jesus’ pass. It proved to be hugely expensive as seconds later Lyon set up a semi-final meeting with Bayern Munich when Dembele scored his second after Ederson fumbled a shot from Houssem Aouar’s routine shot.
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