Champions League: Round of 16
As the biggest yearly competition in world football moves on into the quarter-finals, here is an overview of what has happened so far.
In group A we saw two of the strongest teams in Europe, Man City and PSG. Both these teams were almost guaranteed to pass to the knockout stage , but the real fight was going to be who qualified in first position. Man City ended up taking first place after being only 1 point ahead of PSG, meaning they would get the better matchup in the knockout stage. Last year, it was Man City who took out PSG in the semi-finals after a 2-1 win in the first leg and a 2-0 win in the second leg propelling them into a final they would lose against Chelsea. This developed into a mini rivalry between these two teams who are known for being money giants with no history, and year after year they are trying to turn this around.
With group B we saw another very strong group, with Liverpool and Atlético Madrid leading the way, as Porto and Milan trailed behind. Liverpool dominated this group as they won all of their matches, leaving second place Atlético, 11 points behind them.
Group C was one of the weakest groups, hosting no real powerhouse, with Borussia Dortmund being the best team on paper. However, they did not pass to the knockout stage due to their -1 goal differential compared to Sporting, who had a +2 Goal differential with 9 points(same as Dortmund). Ajax qualified in first with 10 points from the wonder kid Antony, and Haller.
Real Madrid and Inter led group D and moved on to the knockout stage despite an interesting contender in Sheriff United, a previously unknown Moldavian team, which shocked everyone with their spectacular 2-1 win over Real Madrid in their first game. They went on to lose the next 3 games in a row, twice to Inter and once to Real Madrid , but they finished off their season with a tie and win against Shakhtar Donetsk.
In group E we saw another team go undefeated in Bayern Munich that fell into a relatively easy group with Benfica, Barcelona and Dynamo Kyiv, which saw Benfica pass instead of the favorite, Barcelona. Bayern had 22 goals in 6 matches, with two matches scoring 5 goals, one match scoring 4 goals, two matches scoring 3 goals and one match scoring 2 goals.
Group F was possibly the weakest group of them all. Manchester United led the group with 11 points, as Villarreal finished a point behind them as they lost to United in their second to last game. The other two teams in the group were Atalanta from Italy and BSC Youngboys from Switzerland.
Group G was also really weak with Lille and Salzburg moving on to the knockout stage as Sevilla and Wolfsburg only had 6 and 5 points each. Salzburg is RB Leipzig's "second team" and in the past years they have been making a name for themselves in international competitions.
Group H had two power houses at the top, with the reigning champions of the Champions League in Chelsea, and one of the top teams in Italy in Juventus. Juventus ended up topping out the group and Chelsea just barely trailed behind by 2 points. The other two teams that got sent to the Europa league were Zenit from Russia, and Malmö FF from Sweden.
On the first day of the knockout stage, PSG faced Real Madrid and Manchester City faced Sporting. PSG dominated their match against Real Madrid, but they were only able to score at the very end of the game with a beautiful goal from Mbappe. On the other hand, City ran over Sporting with a dominant 5-0 win with a beautiful performance from Bernardo Silva who had 2 goals and 1 assist. The following day Inter played at home against Liverpool and Salzburg played at home vs Bayern. Salzburg was able to hold on to a 1-1 draw, while Liverpool won 2-0. In the following week, there was Villarreal vs Juventus and Chelsea vs Lille. The Villarreal vs Juventus game resulted in a 1-1 draw after a 1st minute goal from Vlahovic and an equalizer in the 66th minute from Parejo. Chelsea won 2-0 against Lille with its first goal coming early from Havertz and the second goal came 20 minutes into the second half after a nice assist from Kante to Pulisic. On the last day of the first leg Benfica and Ajax tied 2-2 in a very first half dominated game as 3 goals came from the first half alone. The second game was Manchester United vs Atlético Madrid , and it was a 1-1 draw, with goals from Felix from Atlético and Elanga from United. The second leg started with Bayern Munich giving shivers down the spines of all Brazilians as their game resulted in a 7-1 win for them, resulting in them advancing to the quarter-finals. Inter's and Liverpool's game ended 1-0 in Inter's favor , but due to the aggregate score, Liverpool passed to the quarter-finals. The next day we had PSG vs Real Madrid in possibly one of the most electrifying games of the season as PSG led 1-0 which practically secured their victory, but Benzema had other plans, he put 3 goals in the back of PSG's net within 17 minutes to propel them ahead to the next stage. There was no way that Sporting was going to come back from 5-0 down, so City took a step back and let the game stand still 0-0 to secure them a spot in the quarter-finals. In the following week, Manchester United and Atlético faced off in United's home , but after a goal late in the first half, United just couldn't find their rhythm, resulting in a Champions League quarter-final without either Cristiano or Messi. On the same day, Ajax was also sent off by Benfica with a goal in the 77th minute from Darwin Nuñez. In the next day Villarreal moped the floor with Juventus in a 3-0 win with goals from Gerrard Moreno, Pau Torres and Arnaut Groenveld. To finish the Champions League round of 16 Chelsea won yet again over Lille leaving us with Bayern, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Man City, Atlético de Madrid, Benfica, Villarreal and Chelsea to face off against each other in the quarter-finals.
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