We have reached the halfway point of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, and three of the four ties are still hanging in the balance with all to play for next week.
As things stand, the path to the final four is still not clear for some of Europe’s biggest teams.
Four massive matches are coming up on April 8 and 9, and now it is time to take stock after the first legs.
Tension, ecstasy and despair have been rife in the first four games of the quarters… crank that up plenty of notches, and you might have a chance of replicating the emotions inside all four stadiums during the second legs.
FC Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid
What a tie we had at the Nou Camp in the first leg, as Atletico drove at the heart of Barcelona’s defense time and time again, and that’s without their injured talisman Diego Costa. His replacement, plain old Diego, scored a stunner to give the capital club the lead, and a second half equalizer from Neymar leaves the tie hanging in the balance. Diego Simeone’s Atleti are hungry to succeed in the UCL and make the last four. With the second leg at home against Barca at a fired up Vicente Calderon, the partisan crowd will play a huge factor. Barca’s galaxy of stars, led by Lionel Messi, haven’t figured out how to beat Atletico’s relentless high-pressure approach. They have to do that quickly. PST’s Richard Farley was waxing lyrical about the first game between these two. If you want to see two hugely contrasting styles of Spanish soccer clash, this is the match for you.
First Leg: FC Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Second Leg: April 9, Vicente Calderon, Madrid
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Chelsea
Have PSG finally arrived on the big stage? The reigning French champions looked the real deal for vast swathes of their home victory against Chelsea in the first leg. Ezequiel Lavezzi opened the scoring and was a bright spark all evening, while Eden Hazard leveled and Chelsea looked solid until around the hour mark. Then an own goal by David Luiz and a late Javier Pastore strike, after a mazy run, handed the initiative to Les Parisiens in an absorbing clash at the Parc des Princes. Chelsea’s defending was sloppy and they now have to overturn a two-goal advantage at Stamford Bridge next Tuesday. Can Jose Mourinho’s men do it? They will likely face PSG without their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic who limped off injured with 20 minutes to go in the first leg.
First Leg: Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 Chelsea
Second Leg: April 8, Stamford Bridge, London
Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich
In a turbulent week for David Moyes, and seven days after his side were humiliated by crosstown rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford, a very different United team turned up to play Bayern. The Red Devils conceded possession to the reigning European champions, but hit them on the break time and time again. A Nemanja Vidic header was cancelled out by Bastian Schweinsteiger’s goal, as a pulsating class took place under the lights at Old Trafford. Bayern dominated played but United dug in superbly, as two late yellows for Bayern will see Javi Martinez and Schweinsteiger sit out the second leg. Not many people thought Man United would still be in with a chance of advancing to the semifinals by the time the return game had come around, but they are very much in this tie. A cracking evening in Bavaria between two old foes awaits. Plus, Moyesy has faith.
First Leg: Manchester United 1-1 Bayern Munich
Second Leg: April 9, Allianz Arena, Munich
Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund
Before this game Dortmund’s head coach Jurgen Klopp proclaimed himself delighted just to get to the knockout stages and anything was a bonus. It seems as if the quarterfinals is as far as that bonus goes. Spanish giants Real Madrid smashed BVB 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu, with goals from Gareth Bale, Isco and Cristiano Ronaldo doing the damage. Last season Dortmund humiliated Real by winning 4-1 at home with four goals from Robert Lewandowski. Surely the big Polish striker can’t repeat that feat this season? Dortmund need a miracle, as Real’s juggernaut guided by Carlo Ancelotti, continues to plow through Europe’s elite with ease. Can the second leg deliver a game, or will Madrid simply run away with it?
First Leg: Real Madrid 3-0 Borussia Dortmund
Second Leg: April 8, Westfalenstadion, Dortmund