A review of the first legs in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League including a disastrous defeat away to Wolfsburg, a scrappy draw in Paris for Man City, and 10-men Atletico can’t hold out against Barcelona.
They ended Barcelona’s 39-match unbeaten run playing at the Nou Camp with only 10-men, so a team 34-points behind the current Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich should have been a pushover. However, Wolfsburg had other ideas. Breaking at will to inflict Real Madrid’s first quarterfinal defeat in the Champions League in 12-years.
They scored two. It could have been a lot more. Ricardo Rodriguez put Wolfsburg ahead after only 18-minutes. Casemiro was judged to have fouled Andre Schurrle in the box, and the Swiss star converted from the spot. Wolfsburg went in at the half-time break with a two-goal lead courtesy of a cracking one-touch passing move that saw Max Arnold scoring from six yards.
Cristiano Ronaldo had an early goal correctly ruled out for offside, but it was one of the very few chances from the Spanish giants. The last time Real Madrid came back from a two-goal first leg deficit was in 1987 when they eliminated Red Star Belgrade.
However, the bookies are rarely wrong, and they still have Real Madrid as third favourites to win the trophy, and even money to power past Wolfsburg when they face them at the Bernabeu Tue 12, April.
Barcelona Beat 10-Men Atletico
It was a case of ‘what might have been’ for the other team in Madrid after a few moments of madness from their star striker Fernando Torres may have cost Atletico dearly in their two-legged war against the favourites Barcelona.
Irrespective of the might of Bayern and Real, there is something about this Atletico Madrid side that makes you believe they are the one team left in the last eight who are more capable of eliminating Barcelona than any other.
The Catalan giants came into this game on the back of their first defeat in 39 competitive games, and when Fernando Torres put the visitors ahead after 25-minutes you sensed another upset. Madrid had only conceded three goals in their entire Champions League campaign. They are stingy. Barcelona is a battering ram.
Unfortunately, for Diego Simeone’s men, their usually hardened defence had the struggle of all struggles when in the 35th minute Torres went from saviour to silly boy after being sent to the stands for two bookable offences.
Cue the Barcelona onslaught. Wave after wave of attacks pounding the Madrid goal and Luis Suarez scored in the 63rd and 74th minutes to take a precarious lead into the second leg. Suarez has now scored seven goals and provided three assists in five Champions League games at the Nou Camp. They were his 45th goals of a stunning season.
PSG and Man City: Sunday Pub Sides
Former Champions League winner Roy Keane was far from impressed as he pored over a 90-minutes littered with schoolboy errors.
It was the first time Man City had ever reached this stage of the competition. PSG was playing in the quarterfinals for the fourth consecutive year – they have never reached the semi-finals.
The combined cost of both teams was $800m. The back four of both sides costs $150m.
“That’s $149m too much,” said Keane during his analysis for ITV.
David Luiz was booked after only 12-seconds and will miss the second leg. He made up for it moments later when he made a penalty for his side after kicking Bacary Sagna in the box and falling spectacularly to the floor. The referee bought it, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic failed to convert the spot-kick with Joe Hart becoming the only keeper to save two penalties in the Champions League this season.
City made PSG suffer for that miss in the 38th minute when Kevin de Bruyne gave them the lead with a smart finish from the right wing. But you can’t keep a good man down, especially when you are playing like a U16 side. Joe Hart gave Fernando a weak goal kick at the edge of the box, the Brazilian tried to clear it, but instead hit the ball directly into the shins of Ibrahimovic, and the ball rebounded in the back of the net. It was the Swede’s fifth consecutive Champions League goal even if he knew nothing about it.
City went two down ten minutes after the break. A front post header by Edinson Cavani bringing a save from Hart, but the City keeper could only paw it into the path of Adrien Rabiot to score from the same spot that he vanquished Chelsea from in the previous round.
Ibrahimovic nearly sealed the win when he headed against the bar, but City looked likely to score all match and found an equaliser in the 72nd minute after another bout of child-like defending saw the ball fall to Fernandinho, in the six-yard box, and his deflected shot trickled into the back of the net.
City’s two away goals will be vital when the pair clash in the second leg Tue, 12 April, but the bookies still have PSG favourites to go through to the next round.
Bayern Beat Benfica
Five-time winners Bayern Munich are still on course to give coach Pep Guardiola the perfect send off after beating Benfica by a single goal to nil. Artur Vidal stole the march on his marker to head the ball home in only the second minute of the match. It was his first Champions League goal for the club since signing from Juventus last season. The bookies have Benfica as the rank outsiders, but Benfica striker Jonas looked dangerous, and could easily have grabbed himself a couple of goals. Then again, this was Guardiola’s 150th game as Bayern boss. He has now won 114 of them.
First Leg Results
Barcelona 2 v 1 Atletico Madrid
Bayern Munich 1 v 0 Benfica
Paris St Germain 2 v 2 Man City
Wolfsburg 2 v 0 Real Madrid
Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bodog)
Bayern Munich +225
Real Madrid +750
Paris St Germain +1000
Man City +1200
Atletico Madrid +1800
Wolfsburg + 2800