We are halfway into the quarterfinals of the Champions League. If you had bet on the most likely winners according to bookies, you should have come out even. Barcelona and Liverpool got their victory against Manchester United and Liverpool, but Juventus struggled against Ajax and Manchester City even lost against Tottenham Hotspurs. Luckily there is still the second leg where you can score a big win and this time you have the insights that the first games exposed. So what did we learn the ninth and tenth of april? Who has the best papers to win it all next week?
Damage Control Manchester United
Playing 5-3-2, Manchester United managed to limit the damage to only one goal. An achievement in itself against the likes of Messi and Suarez. That is the good news for the squad of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The bad news is that Manchester didn’t create all that much themselves. This was to be expected, but especially Lukaku looked a bit helpless from time to time on the half of Barcelona. With a 0-1 score and Barcelona playing the home game next week, Manchester has to score in Camp Nou. Meaning they have to take more risk or hope for gifts from the Barcelona defence, like they received from PSG. Assuming Barcelona doesn’t intend to play Santa Claus, Manchester has to go on the offence. A dangerous game, but an interesting one! This is gonna be a real football fight, with Barcelona being the absolute favourite.
Ajax doesn’t take shit from anyone
Back in school there used to be that kid that didn’t take shit from anyone; not from the bigger kids, not from the more popular kids. At first the other kids laughed, but once they saw him beat up one of the biggest kids in school they got scared. And they should be. This is the story of Ajax in the Champions League this far. The first game in Amsterdam ended in 1-1 and who dares to say that Juventus deserved to win? With Juventus winning their last home game against Atletico Madrid with 3-0 and Ajax winning their last away game against Real Madrid with 1-4, there is absolutely no telling what will happen last week. We hope the bold kid takes out one more feared bully at least one more time before the end of this Champions League Season.
Liverpool did what it was expected to do
‘Before the match I would have been happy with a 2-0 victory and after the match I still am’ said Jürgen Klopp. Well, we can get behind that. More important than the two goals is the fact that Porto made zero in their away game. Against the defence under the lead of Virgil van Dijk it is very unlikely that Porto is gonna make three at home. Porto will have to play full on the attack if they do and one goal from Liverpool means Porto will have to score at least four for a tie. Last years encounter showed a 5-0 score is possible though, even though it was Liverpool that scored five goals. Liverpool is the big favourite here.
Manchester City controlled the game… And lost
That Manchester City controlled the game was the analysis of Pep Guardiola at least. Some may have a different description of what they have seen this evening. Though the game was rather tame, there were some interesting points to take away for the next encounter. Pep brought substitutes really late, MC seems nervous when it comes to Champions League football (they won the last three encounters with Tottenham), Kane got kicked out of the game and the VAR played another dubious role. Because Manchester City is so good in the Premier League we tent to forget Tottenham has a really good squad as well. Maybe it is the new stadium that lifts the Spurs, an advantage they won’t have next week. Like Ajax Juventus, but for different reasons, this one is really hard to call.