With the first leg encounters of the Champions League quarter finals behind us, I cannot help but feel slightly disappointed with the level of football that was demonstrated by the “best eight” teams in Europe. As the competition is now gradually reaching its most interesting stages, I was hoping that the drama and entertainment that has always branded the Champions League, would once again come to the forefront. However, some of the elite teams were not at the top of their game, and we therefore did not witness the most spectacular round of European football.
The game at the Allianz Arena between Bayern and Juventus, promised to be a classic match-up of two European powerhouses, as both teams have experienced great form in recent months. Unfortunately, the Italians were simply not up to the challenge, and struggled from the very first whistle. Juventus’ stylish football, which differs from the traditional Italian game and has become their trademark in the past two seasons, was nowhere to be found. The midfield trio of Pirlo, Vidal and Marchisio could not cope with the relentless pressure of the Germans, and Juventus therefore created very few chances throughout the entire game. In order to give themselves any sort of chance in the second leg, the whole Juventus squad will have to perform at a much higher level, although I firmly believe that Bayern will qualify for the semi-final, as they possess to great of an attacking threat, and there is very little chance of them not scoring in Turin.
Barcelona can be were pleased with their performance against Paris Saint-German, as their last European game away from home was nothing short of a disaster. The 2-2 draw in the first leg was a fair result, as the Parisians created a decent amount of chances, and deserved to get something from the game. Even though the game finished with a draw, the Catalans’ two away goals should prove vital in their progression, as it is safe to suggest that they will once more dominate in next week’s game at the Camp Nou. However, if Ibrahimović has one of his magical nights he could will his team to victory, especially if Messi is unfit to play on Wednesday.
Like Bayern Munich, Real Madrid are also in a very comfortable position before the second leg, after a somewhat convincing victory versus Galatasaray. Mourinho’s men did just enough to win the game, but were far from dominant against the Turkish side. Even though Galatasaray was considered, at least on paper, the weakest team in the quarter final draw, their performance in Madrid was very impressive, and they certainly deserved more from the game. Surprisingly enough they had the majority of the possession, but were unable to take the few chances Madrid offered them. They should have also been awarded at least one penalty in the game, but the referee, who did not cover himself in glory, only made matters worse for the Turks. Galatasaray proved they belong, but by failing to capitalize on their chances, they now face a merely impossible task of overcoming the deficit at home. Even though the Istanbul atmosphere is bound to be extraordinarily difficult, Real should not have to much trouble in protecting their lead.
The third Spanish team in the quarter finals, Malaga, was facing a Dortmund side, which many have labelled as the “dark horses” of the competition. Malaga made a valiant effort in the game, and was able to hold on to a 0-0 draw, which now gives them a great chance of earning a semi-final spot on the road. But in all fairness, Borussia should have scored at least twice, which would have probably resulted in a comfortable win. Malaga’s defence was in complete disarray on many occasions, but the Germans simply were not sharp enough in front on goal, as they squandered a great deal of chances. Although Malaga seem to be in a better position at the moment, I am positive that Borussia will not be as wasteful at home, and that their exceptional crowd will lead them to victory.
Next week’s match-ups should be highly entertaining, and I, for one, hope that we will see the type of football that this competition deserves.
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