As the World Cup approaches, the Champions League continues to draw to a close.
If you haven’t been keeping up with it, here’s a recap of what happened in the second leg of the quarterfinals!
Let me start off by saying it might surprise you who are the in final four, or it might not; either way, the second leg had a shower of goals!
So let’s dribble into the action, starting with Tuesday’s games.
Real Madrid arrived in Borussia Dortmund with a three-goal advantage, but it would not be an easy game for Madrid, who would combat a Dortmund squad determined to eliminate the deficit. In order for Real Madrid to keep their semi-final dreams alive, they had to play their best football yet. Los Blancos would begin the match with a slight disadvantage as superstar Cristiano Ronaldo would start the match on the bench due to the discomfort he’s been experiencing for a few weeks in one of his knees.
Dortmund received a major boost as Robert Lewandowski would return after being suspended. Let’s recall that Lewandowski helped Dortmund eliminate Real Madrid in last year’s semi-finals.
In the 16th minute, los blancos received a penalty after a cross from Madrid’s Fabio Coentrao struck the arm of a Dortmund’s Lukasz Piszczek.
But with Ronaldo on the bench, who would step up to take the penalty?
Would Angel Di Maria do the blancos the favor? If he managed to net the penalty, Real Madrid would maintain the lead, but that was not the case as Di Maria could not convert the penalty kick.
With the clock ticking, Dortmund knew they had to continue the search for a goal if they wanted to keep their hopes alive. The search would end at the 25th minute mark when Marco Reus netted one for the home team to make the score would one-nil. But if Dortmund wanted to advance, they would need a lot more goals. About 10 minutes later, Dortmund would strike again and give the home team hope as they were one goal away from eliminating the deficit.
However, no more scoring occurred. Madrid would lose 2-0 but because of the 3-2 aggregate score in favor of Madrid, los blancos advanced.
A few things to note, this is the first game Real Madrid lost in the Champions League this season. The team looked very lost and insecure and Borussia Dortmund could have scored more had it not been for Real Madrid’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas. If Real Madrid aspires to win la decimal (the tenth) they must learn from this loss.
Next up, Paris Saint-Germain sans Zlatan Ibrahimovic would clash against Mourinho’s Chelsea.
PSG entered the game with a slight advantage of two goals after winning the first leg 3-1. If the Blues wanted to advance to the semi-finals they would need to demolish PSG, which is something easier said than done… or is it?
For starters, the Blues had some advantages – they were playing at the Stamford Bridge and they had not lost a home match since September. Samuel Eto’o would also return to the line up.
Chelsea struck first after a scoreless 30 minutes!
After half-time, Chelsea’s Demba Ba scored the second goal of the game… at the 87th minute!!
More importantly, Ba’s goal tied both teams 3-3 at the aggregate level, and as a result of the UEFA’s rules, Chelsea advanced to the semi-final.
But what exactly is the UEFA rule?
The rule is called the Away Goal Rule, which is only applied as a tie breaker in matches that end up tied in an aggregate score and in which there are two legs played. Regarding this game and this case, in the first leg of the quarterfinals, PSG played at home and scored three goals while Chelsea only managed to score one goal, is was an away goal. In the second leg, Chelsea played at home and PSG did not manage to net a goal once. Therefore, because of the away goal rule, Chelsea advanced by leading 1-0 in away goals.
Wednesday’s matches might have been even more interesting than Tuesday’s.
Let’s free-kick into Wednesday’s matches, starting with Spanish favorite Barcelona who would battle the current Spanish League leader Atletico Madrid.
Since the first leg ended in a TIE, it was really anybody’s game.
Atletico Madrid entered the game sans Diego Costa, but it would not be a negative factor as Atletico managed to find the net during the first five minutes of the match! After that play, it was mainly Atletico attempting to find the next goal only for it to never come.
On the other hand Barcelona’s star Lionel Messi was not as effective and Neymar could not find the net. Although Barcelona maintained possession of the ball most of the time, they were unable to score before the final whistle was heard, sending Atletico to the semi-finals.
An interesting fact is that Atletico Madrid had never reached the semi-finals in the Champions League before now. This will be their first!
Barcelona, on the other hand, was eliminated in what seemed the shortest exit for the Catalans in the span of seven years. Perhaps the only title aspirations Barcelona now have are the Copa del Rey or the Spanish League title, in which the race continues to grow competitive after every match.
As for Atletico Madrid, this year has been full of surprises. They are the Spanish League leaders and are now bound for the semi-finals. They have a lot to be proud of as they’re having one of their best campaigns up to date.
Last, but certainly not least, the Red Devils of Manchester United would attempt to calm the wrath of current Bundesliga champion Bayern Munich.
After the first leg ended in a tie, the semi-finals were up for grabs!
After a scoreless first half that really didn’t damage either team, Manchester United scored first as Patrice Evra gave the visiting team a slight advantage. The lead didn’t last long as Munich’s Mario Mandzukic netted the equalizer, a turning point in the game.
About ten minutes after Munich’s goal, the second one came along, a creation by Thomas Muller that would put the home team ahead. If Manchester United wanted to continue in the quest, they needed to not give up any more goals. With less than thirty minutes to go in the second half it was do or die.
Much to United’s chagrin, Arjen Robben sunk ManU’s hopes by netting a third goal for Munich. The match would end 3-1, with an aggregate score of 4-2, sending Munich to the next round!
The opportunity was there. Manchester United just did not seem to seize it. After striking first, the mistake was letting Bayern Munich catch up and continue to add goals!
Wayne Rooney returned to the line-up, but did not deliver anything, he missed the chance of giving his team a pass to the semi-final. Instead, Rooney seemed obstructed with what seems to be an injured toe. David Moyes failed to deliver. Manchester United threw away their only title aspiration this season, considering they are in seventh place in the BPL, they are far away from getting to the top.
The draw for the semi-final took place this past Friday, so close to the end, there is one question left to ask… who do YOU think will win the Champions League?
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