The first knockout rounds of the Champions League returned and there were some incredible matches played during week 1. The UCL round of 16 usually gives us an early indication of which teams carry momentum and are a threat, and narrows down the competition drastically.
A lot of eyes fell on Liverpool following their terrible drop in form in the Premier League as they traveled to face RB Leipzig on neutral grounds due to Covid-19 restrictions in Germany. Barca welcomed PSG to the Nou Camp in a rematch from that incredible 6-1 victory in 2017.
Sevilla hosted Dortmund in Spain hoping to make it to the knockout rounds of the Champions League, and not return to their favorite, Europa League. Juventus travelled to Portugal to face FC Porto as favorites, with Cristiano Ronaldo looking to improve on his champions league record. Overall the ucl round of 16 delivered as usual and there were some stunning results going in to the second leg in 3 weeks time.
Liverpool vs Leipzig
Liverpool went into their UCL round of 16 tie against Leipzig in dreadful form, having lost 3 of their previous 5 in the premier league. Ozan Kabak made his debut against Leicester but it was one to forget as Leicester came from behind to win 3-1. A lot of eyes were also on Alison Becker following his terrible errors against City and Leicester.
Leipzig came into the tie in much better form, winning 4 out of their previous 5 matches. They weren’t allowed to play at home due to Covid-19 restrictions so the match was hosted in Budapest. Leipzig were wary of Liverpool’s attack despite their form, and new Bayern signing Dayot Upamecano was keen to impress against a European giant.
Ultimately Liverpool started the match better, playing accurate passes, opting to use the long ball to avoid a congested midfield. This worked wonders as it led to the two errors that handed Mo Salah and Mane two breakaway goals. The long ball was a great tactical move on Klopp’s side to combat the midfield that pressed really well, Thiago controlled the middle of the park really well for Liverpool, but ultimately Ozan Kabak put in an incredible man of the match performance in his ucl round of 16 debut. Liverpool take a 2-0 advantage going into the second leg at Anfield and will be confident of progressing to the next round.
Barcelona vs PSG
Barcelona are miles away from being the terrifying dominant team they were years back, however with Messi in the side, they’re still always a threat. Mauricio Pochettino made his ucl round of 16 debut with PSG and his tactics were spot on. PSG are chasing the champions league title, and the beaten finalists from last year trust that Pochettino would be the man to get them the title that has eluded them for so long.
Barcelona haven’t been firing on all cylinders this year, but they’ve found some stability over the last few weeks. Young players like Pedri, Sergio Dest and Trincão have become regulars in Ronald Koeman’s side. With the league almost seemingly heading to Madrid, the champions league is a trophy Messi would want to win again as he reaches the twilight of his Barcelona career.
Neymar was out injured due to a thigh injury but it was Mbappe that stole the show. He upstaged the Argentine great with a hattrick at the Nou Camp and gave PSG a 4-1 away lead heading into the second leg. Barcelona were hit terribly by the speed and accuracy of PSG’s attack and Dembele’s miss may prove fatal to their champions league hopes. PSG welcome Barca to the Parc De Paris but are favorites to carry their 3 goal lead to the next round.
Sevilla vs Dortmund
Sevilla came into their match with Dortmund in hot form including victories over Barcelona and Valencia. They are looking to become champions league regulars and hope to make it to the knockout rounds to enjoy the prestige and riches that comes with being amongst Europes elite.
Dortmund have been in a terrible run of form in the Bundesliga and many questions have been asked of their manager. The likes of Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland are always in the spotlight as they’re being sought after by Europe’s best clubs. They might not qualify for next season’s champions league, so their focus would be on performing in this one.
In a close tie, Sevilla dominated much of the ball, but it was Erling Haaland’s 2 goals that broke Sevilla’s resistance and gave Dortmund a 3-2 victory despite their best efforts to get back that 3rd goal. Dortmund has a goal advantage and with 3 away goals, they’d want to make it count in the home leg of the UCL round of 16. Sevilla will go to Germany (or Budapest) with the hope that they can snatch a victory as the tie is still pretty open.
FC Porto vs Juventus
FC Porto welcomed Juventus following four draws out of their last five. Juventus were favorites despite coming in following an average season, understandably as it is Andrea Pirlo’s first season as manager.
Cristiano Ronaldo is always a threat when it comes to the champions league, but the round of 16 has never really been his round in terms of scoring. Porto matched Juventus man for man and let Juventus have much of the ball. It was Porto that made quicker starts and their early goals in the first, and second half’s were enough to grant them a 2-1 victory.
The tie is not yet over as Juventus have an away goal heading into their home tie of the ucl round of 16, but Porto will take courage from their performance and look to improve and cement their place in the next round.
The Round of 16 Fixtures for Week 2
The next week of fixtures bring some more exciting matchups that will give us an indication of teams to make the last four. Each team will want to impress, and lots of eyes will be on Chelsea as new manager Thomas Tuchel takes the reigns in their tie against an inform Atletico Madrid.
- Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid
- Lazio vs Bayern
- Atalanta vs Real Madrid
- Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Man City
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