Impact’s Tom Kfoury takes a look at the first legs of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.
Bayern are in the semifinal
Not to disrespect Sevilla, but they are not one of the eight best teams in Europe. Sevilla’s 2-1 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford last round was incredible. However, when they were drawn against Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals, it was game over. This game was boring, and Bayern did not even play their best. But that still did not stop the German giants from beating Sevilla in Spain, which is not easy. Sevilla have only lost three times at home in La Liga.
If it were not for someone named Lionel Messi then they would have beaten Barcelona in their most recent La Liga match. Sevilla did open the scoring in the 31st minute through Pablo Sarabia, but from then on the game was all Bayern’s. A Jesus Navas own-goal in the 37th minute and a Thiago Alcantara goal in the 68th minute gave Bayern the cushion they deserved. Bayern now have two away goals and with the second leg being in Munich, Bayern should have no problems sweeping aside Sevilla.
I hate the Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi argument. I would rather just have people say they are both generational players and enjoy them while we can. Especially for moments like these. Ronaldo is 33 years-old, and no one knows how many years left of this we have left. Just watch that video. Look at how high he gets just to strike the ball. Look at Gianluigi Buffon stand there planted to his spot as the ball flies past him. Look at the Juventus fans applauding Ronaldo as he runs off to celebrate the goal. Look at Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane’s reaction after the goal goes in. Everything about that goal was incredible. Yes, this is just one moment in a 90-minute match, but this moment was so influential to the momentum of the game.
Up to that point Juventus was more likely to score out of the two teams. Paulo Dybala was the best player on the field. Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas had made some fantastic saves, and Madrid had been lucky not to concede up to that point. Then Ronaldo scores the bicycle kick and the game is turned on its head. Dybala gets sent off two minutes later in the 66th minute. Then Madrid add their third goal in the 72nd minute. Ronaldo’s goal was soul-crushing. It almost certainly ends Juventus’ Champions League campaign and also Buffon’s (who is 40 years-old) last chance to win the Champions League.
Roma scored more goals than Barca and still lost
But Roma were beaten 4-1. How did they score more goals then Barcelona? Well Roma gifted two own goals to Barca (via Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas), and scored one of their own. So in theory, Roma put the ball in the net three times. Roma also gave Barca striker Luis Suarez his first Champions League goal this season to add insult to injury. For Barcelona, having the opposing teams score own goals is a regular occurence. Barcelona have forced their opposition to score five own goals in the Champions League this year. Lionel Messi, who is Barca’s leading goalscorer in the Champions League this year, has six.
Having that many own goals go your way is strange, but then again Barca do have Messi, Suarez, Andres Iniesta and Ousmane Dembele. Much like Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, Barca are pretty much in the semifinal. The next match might be in Rome, and Roma do have an away goal, but a three goal deficit is too much for Roma to surpass. Roma’s leading goalscorer Edin Dzeko managed to score Roma’s only goal but looked isolated for most of the first leg. Plus, Messi and company have been to this stage of the Champions League too many times to let this slip away.
Guardiola got his tactics wrong and Liverpool punished him
If you read my quarterfinals preview article then you would know that even though Juventus vs. Real Madrid was the glamour match, this was the match that everyone should watch. Even though Liverpool blew out Manchester City 3-0, the game was still electric to watch. Liverpool picked apart the team that many consider to be the best in Europe. In Manchester City’s four losses this season, Liverpool are the only team to beat them twice. Once in the Premier League and now once in the Champions League.
This loss has to go down to the poor tactics from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. He decided to play center back Aymeric Laporte at left-back against Mohamed Salah (who has 38 goals and 11 assists). Then Guardiola played holding midfielder Ilkay Gündogan at right winger, leaving Raheem Sterling (who has 21 goals in all competitions) on the bench. Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp and his players took full advantage of these mistakes. Laporte was no match for the direct runs and pace of Salah, and Gündogan drifted into midfield leaving plenty of room for Andy Robertson and Sadio Mané to exploit. Much like the three other that won in the quarterfinals, Liverpool have one foot in the door for the next round. However, this tie is nowhere near done because of Manchester City’s ability to score.