The UEFA Champions League is the largest stage in European football where the giants of the various leagues come to face off as to know who the best is. It always promises to be exciting and this season’s edition is no exception. There have been a few surprises in this year’s edition as THE DRAGOES all the way from Porto, Portugal have found themselves in the quarterfinals but had their journey cut abruptly by Chelsea FC.
As always, there are a couple of favourites to win the competition and initially, FC Bayern Munich looked to be the leading horse in the race but after losing to Paris Saint Germain in the Quarterfinals, they don’t look so invincible anymore. Even after putting up an exceptional performance over both legs, the Bavarians definitely missed their star striker Robert “LewanGOALski” who was sure to put away a few goals from the whooping 17 shots on target that they were able to muster in both legs of their quarterfinal fixture. They sure had a stellar performance at the Parc des Princes but their solo goal by Eric Choupo-Moting was not enough to put them through to the semis.
Paris Saint Germain on the other hand had a lot on their plate after encountering THE BAVARIANS at the ALLIANZ ARENA and a master class from Kylian Mbappe was enough to put them ahead but they were not quite convincing as Bayern Munich totally outclassed them during the second half. They certainly did not relent during the second leg with Neymar hitting the bar a few times and also conceding a goal in the process. However, their away goal the previous week was enough to make sure they secured a place in the semi-finals two weeks from now.
Chelsea somehow managed to land themselves the dark horses of the competition, FC Porto. They were able to get a solid win away during the first leg and a dismal performance from FC Porto did not speak well of the team that eliminated the star-studded Italian giant, Juventus even if it was on away goals rule. The second leg of this rather interesting tie was all about defence for Chelsea who managed to hold Porto for most of the match but a spectacular overhead kick from Mehdi Taremi at the last moment denied Eduardo Mendy the clean sheet that he deserved. But nevertheless, Chelsea is through to the semis.
Real Madrid thrashed Liverpool in the first leg by 3 goals to 1 at the Alfred di Stefano stadium in Madrid. Liverpool was clearly the underdogs in that tie after been overrun by the creative midfield duo, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. Liverpool FC gaffer, Jurgen Kloop blamed their poor performance on the pitch conditions and has promised better performance at Anfield. However, the statement turned out to just be the words of an embittered manager as Zidane’s men were able to hold them to a goalless draw at Anfield and giving Real Madrid a free pass to the semifinals.
The tie between Manchester City and Dortmund turned out to be an interesting one. The Citizens held on to a one-goal lead for most of the game until the Norwegian and football’s current hotshot, Erling Haaland made a superb assist to Marco Reus to square the score. Manchester City managed to put themselves ahead again through Phil Foden but Dortmund were delighted with the away goal. The second leg actually started out well for Dortmund with them drawing first blood when Jude Bellingham curled the ball to the back of the net making him the youngest Englishman to score a champions league goal. The fairytale turned into a horror story when an alleged handball from Emri Can gave Manchester City an equaliser and a stunning strike from young Phil Foden put The Citizens ahead and put the semi-finals far out of the reach of Borussia Dortmund.
This season has been an amazing one if you ask me. PSG, Manchester City and Real Madrid have all looked threatening. Chelsea is tipped to be the underdog at this stage but we would see about that really. They face a tough opponent in Real Madrid who always seems to end the European dreams of their opponents. The tie between Manchester City and PSG is the most anticipated match in this round as both are trying to lay their claim to the trophy having never won it before. The semi-final of the competition comes up in 2 weeks and at this stage, there are no clear cut favourites. But one thing is assured, this year’s UEFA champions league would definitely live up to its hype as football fans all over the world are on their toes hoping to see if their favourite team gets the bragging right to be the champions of Europe.
For The UIMSA Preclinical Press.