A truly remarkable week of European football was in display throughout the week although there weren’t any major upsets. Bayern Munich vs. Juventus was arguably the best match of the season so far although Paul Pogba’s heroics couldn’t prevent the Old Lady from crashing out. Alba and Neymar also gave fits to Arsenal defenders as the Catalans were too hot to handle and marched on to the next round.
5) Spanish dominance in display — Out of the 16 teams — 8 each in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League that progressed to the next round, 6 teams were from Spain whereas there were only 5 representatives from the Bundesliga, Serie A and Premier League combined. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Sevilla, Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao all progressed whereas Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg qualified from the Bundesliga. Manchester City and Liverpool were the only English teams to qualify for the Champions League and Europa League respectively. La Liga may not be the best league in the world for entertainment but it certainly is when it comes to producing the best teams.
4) Goals still a problem for Atléti — They have one of the best defense in Europe. With just 10 goals conceded in La Liga, this team looks set to break the Spanish record of conceding just 16 goals in a single campaign. However they have a serious headache in the opposite end of the pitch as goals have been hard to come by. They seem to be missing Diego Costa’s goal scoring antics and with Jackson Martinez sold to Guangzhou Evergrande, they have limited options upfront with Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres the only experienced campaigners. However Griezmann has seemed to regain some of his goal scoring touch in recent matches and if they harbour any hopes of glory on the European Front, goals must come flying by and right now.
3) Liverpool and Dortmund set up quarter-final clash after win — Liverpool advanced to the next round of the Europa League after drawing Manchester United 1-1 at Old Trafford and 3-1 on aggregate. On the other hand Borussia Dortmund barely broke a sweat and dispatched Premier League hopefuls Tottenham which brought into full view the huge gulf between teams from Germany and England. Jurgen Klopp, the current Liverpool manager will be relishing the chance to lock horns with his former team in what will be one of the most exciting clashes of the round.
2) Barcelona compile further misery on Arsene Wenger — Embattled Arsenal coach was once again the subjects of twitter trolls as Arsenal got knocked out in the round of 16 for the sixth year running. And reigning champions Barcelona needed to break little sweat as they came out 5-1 winners on aggregate after a 3-1 victory at Camp Nou. Neymar opened the scoring early in the first half and the team naturally looked relaxed from that point onwards. Only after Eleny scored did Barca sense an urgency and Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi scored two brilliant goals later on to decide the tie in favour of the Catalans and extend their unbeaten run to 38.
1) Pep Guardiola’s halftime rant saves Bayern from an embarrassing defeat — With the tie scored at 2-2 after the first leg in Turin, many expected Bayern to progress without much worry. And they couldn’t have been more wrong. Goals from Paul Pogba and Juan Cuadrado gave the Italians a 4-2 lead on aggregate and with their sturdy defence seemingly impenetrable. It was then at half time that Pep Guardiola told his players that he would cut their cojones if they lost the match and in the second half, Bayern looked a changed side. Robert Lewandowski scored to give them some hope and Muller then scored in the 91st minute to level the tie. Thiago led an inspired Bayern in the extra time scoring in the 108th minute and Bayern further added another in the very next minute to seal their victory in an extra ordinary match.
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