The UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first legs are in the books, and here’s one word and an explanatory thought (or two) for each team at the midpoint.
[ MORE: Smalling, McTominay okay with result ]
Manchester United v. Barcelona — 1st leg RECAP
Barcelona – Content.
Ernesto Valverde wouldn’t have minded a second goal, or several more, but the Blaugranas set up for a 1-0 win at Old Trafford and got exactly that.
Manchester United – Relieved.
Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s team was also punchless on offense, but certainly not inoffensive with its punch in a physical match, and they’ll also be relieved that the OGS era of Red Devils football did not involve a blowout home loss to his best opponent yet.
Ajax 1-1 Juventus — 1st leg RECAP
Ajax – Disappointed.
Anyone who watched Wednesday’s first leg in Amsterdam and not just the highlight of Ronaldo’s headed goal will know that Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, and Ajax’s 18-7 shot advantage was not misleading: Ajax should be leading, not level at 1-1.
Juventus – Tired.
The Old Lady was stout at the back, but produced its goal via its lone shot on target. Turin will be a different beast, or Cristiano Ronaldo’s dreams of a UCL four-peat are dead.
Liverpool 2-0 Porto — 1st leg RECAP
Porto – Exasperated.
Moussa Marega gave Virgil Van Dijk everything he could handle, even winning the battle, but Alisson Becker’s saves made and Liverpool’s clinical finishing likely mean the end for Porto despite both teams producing the same amount of chances at Anfield.
Liverpool – Gleeful.
Liverpool knows how much better it is than it’s been over the past few weeks, and to escape Tuesday’s so-so display with a 2-0 lead is like putting a quarter in the cosmetic jewelry dispenser and seeing a blue diamond spit into your palm (and the confidence that comes from making the journey to the final last season really begins to pay off now).
Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Man City — 1st leg RECAP
Tottenham Hotspur – Confident.
After the loss to Man City at Wembley on a substandard pitch, Spurs knew they could beat City and will be pleased to have done just that without conceding an away goal; Score at the Etihad and watch City open up wider.
Manchester City – Bemused.
The City players will be looking at their wizard of a manager and wondering why he didn’t trust the team that got them there, keeping Kevin De Bruyne amongst several on the bench, and will also be perplexed that those changes so drastically affected what’s otherwise been a controlling side.