This week’s Champions League matches
We missed the mid-week action from the UEFA Champions League and these four matches reminded us why we love this competition so much.
Atalanta 4-1 Valencia – We should give more credit to the debutants
Gasperini’s side was brilliant once again in her debut in the Champions League knockout stages. The Italians played against a Valencia team that looked pretty strong on paper, but Atalanta remained loyal to its ideas and style of play and was courageous enough to attack for the entire game.
Given all the other results in the first leg, the team in Bergamo has the best odds now to make it through the next round of the competition. This is simply unbelievable if we remember that after 4 matches played in the group stage they were sitting at the bottom of the group with only 1 point. Where will they stop in this competition?
Tottenham 0-1 Leipzig – No Kane, no Sonny, no party
Another debutant in the league’s round of 16, Leipzig definitely made a great impression. I would say that the only good thing for Spurs coming from this match is the performance of Giovanni Lo Celso. The man was outstanding, even though he could not get his name on the scoresheet. That aside, we witnessed a poor display from the last season’s Champions League finalist, on its home ground.
Without their main men in front of goal, the Londoners were unable to score against a defence partially made out of players considered ‘not good enough’ for the Premier League, and were loaned out in Bundesliga (Ampadu, Angelino).
I think it will be really difficult for Spurs to turn this tie around, but the bigger issue for them is that without their two key-players in attack they will most likely fail to finish in the Top 4 and therefore play in the Europa league next season.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Liverpool – They can be beaten!
We needed the Champions League to get back on the spotlight to remind us that Liverpool is not unbeatable. Premier League is not yet convinced by this statement, but Atletico delivered the Reds their first defeat in 5 months!
As you can see, both of the teams that played the Champions League final in May have lost the first leg of the knockout stage with the same scoreline: 1-0. Of course, everything is left to play for at Anfield, three weeks from now, but my guess is that Liverpool will have a very hard time trying to break apart Simeone’s defence.
Dortmund 2-1 PSG – Fearful Tuchel punished by youngsters
It was a strange match, especially from the managers’ point of view. Only three substitutions made in a game such as this surely raises some question marks. The interesting thing is, PSG had some big names on the bench (Icardi, Cavani, Draxler), but Thomas Tuchel only trusted Sarabia to come onto the pitch.
The German coach abandoned his usual 4-4-2 formation for a more defensive 4-3-3. It sounds odd, but in truth, Marquinhos and Gueye can’t contribute to the attacking phase. Tuchel was afraid to put all his attacking weapons into the starting line-up and then he also feared to bring them on in the second half even though the game wasn’t going in the right direction.
Lucien Favre was inspired enough to send in 17 year-old Giovanni Reyna and he was rewarded with an assist from the American for the incredible goal of the incredible 19 year-old Erling Haalnd.
Second leg predictions
With the exception of Atalanta, it’s difficult to name another team that will qualify for the next round. However, for the fun of it, I’ll say that the other three teams to make it through will be Leipzig, PSG and Atletico Madrid. I don’t think the last year’s Champions League finalists will manage to turn the ties in their favor. Do you?
Nicu Vădan Quality Assurance