Well, well, well! Talking about surprises that gripped many football fans at Quarter Final stage of UEFA Champions League this week.
Who could have thought that PSG, the French team that their last Champions League Quarter Final appearance dates back to 1994-1995, would be able to stall “team of the decade” in Paris? And who could have guessed that Bundesliga giants, Borussia Dortmund, would be stalled by Champions League newbies, Malaga?
Lets review what happened this week and what to expect in action next week:
PSG 2-2 Barcelona:
Arguable the most shocking result of Quarter Final; Although money is flowing into Paris Saint-Germain day-in day-out by its Qatari officials, in addition to being managed by the famed Italian manager, Carlos Ancelotti, and many new great players, but almost no one bid on their chances of stalling FC Barcelona.
Even Ibrahimovic who used to struggle for his former club, Barcelona at Champions League, manage to net a goal on FC Barcelona. Although still a shocking result, witnessing Barcelona’s poor defensive cover and goalkeeping was not surprising for those who are following Barcelona’s games so far this season. They had allowed too many easy, yet crucial goals, with their poor man-marking and defensive possession as well as poor goalkeeping. Evidence of that was France International, Matuidi’s great last minute goal in minute 90 that sealed PSG’s 2-2 tie; In that scene, not only Barcelona’s defenders failed to catch up to Matuidi’s pace, Barca’s goalie, Valdes, also looked too complacent to let striker’s easy shot go in.
Beside disappointing result for Barcelona, the team got another major setback early in 2nd half; Messi’s apparent Hamstring injury ruled him out for most of the 2nd half, and the club has not confirmed yet if he can make it to the return-leg match next week.
For return-leg encounter, if Messi do miss out the match, it will be very challenging for Barcelona coaching staff to come up with Plan B, as they have been too reliant on Messi’s consistent goals and assists and lacked firepower all season apart from Messi.
On the positive side, Barcelona have 2 away goal advantage, which would work in their favour if they go neck and neck with PSG. Plus, Barcelona team despite all their defensive problems, have proved their come-back magic, previously against AC Milan, so they can turn things around if they try their best.
Malaga 0-0 Borussia Dortmund:
Another surprise of Quarter Final stage was surely the stalemate of Borussia Dortmund at the hands(or rather feet) of Spanish team. The surprise came as most pundits expected an easy win for Bundesliga giants, who are known for their high pace and technique, to outclass Malaga, which are newbies to Champions League. But Malaga’s superb defensive cover and goalkeeping, kept the net secure against Dortmund’s strikers, and Malaga as well had their turn of counter attacks as well.
In return-leg, Malaga is invited to Borussia Dortmund’s giant stadium-known as Signa Iduna Park-, Germany’s biggest stadium with highest attended league matches in Europe with 80,000 attendants in each match.
Can Malaga overcome the overwhelming atmosphere of Signa Iduna Park? Or considering Dortmund failed to score an away goal, Bundesliga giants will be eliminated based on away goal rule, as soon as Malaga scores a goal? It will be a highly anticipated match for sure.
Bayern Munich 2-0 Juventus:
This match was a very close-contested match. Former CL Finalists, Bayern, stunned their visitors with their early goal in first minute of the match. They countered Juventus’ strikes well throughout the match and with Muller’s goal, they seal the deal at Munich.
Juventus striked several times in the game but they just lacked that finishing touch and accuracy that their former striker, Del Piero would consistently offer.
In return-leg match, considering Juventus failed to score an away goal in first-leg, it will be extremely difficult for Italians to turn the result around with 3 goals. Although we can never say “never” in football.
Real Madrid 3-0 Galatasaray:
Galatasaray’s party up until now was shattered early into this match, when Ronaldo scored an early great strike, followed by Benzema and Higuain’s.
Galatasaray team did not have that motivation and momentum they had all along in this Tournament and their famed players, Eboue, Drogba and Sneijder failed to perform up to the expectations. Maybe Drogba and Sneijder did not want to anger their favourite former coach, Mourinho?!
In return-match, despite playing at home, it’ll be a very difficult task for Galatasaray to score 4 goals on Real Madrid, a team that has enough dept in their squad to beat any opponent this season.