The first legs of this season’s Champions League spherical of 16 had been a chastening set of outcomes for the Premier League golf equipment as an entire and Liverpool specifically. Jurgen Klopp’s facet had been humbled at house by Real Madrid whereas none of Chelsea, Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur are forward on the midway stage of their ties.
Paris Saint-Germain even have to come back from behind if they’re to progress on the expense of Bayern Munich, however a quick look from a half-fit Kylian Mbappe is sufficient to give them hope.
Our writers Mark Ogden, Julien Laurens and Rob Dawson reply some of the large questions arising from this spherical of video games.
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What caught your eye from the round-of-16 first legs?
Ogden: Liverpool have been Champions League heavyweights for 5 years — enjoying in three finals and profitable one of them — however their 5-2 defeat at house to Real Madrid on Tuesday seemed like the top of the road for many of Jurgen Klopp’s workforce.
Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho and Joe Gomez all seemed effectively previous their finest as Real placed on a masterclass at Anfield. Henderson not has the legs to get across the pitch and address the expertise that Real have in abundance, whereas Alexander-Arnold and Gomez have develop into liabilities in defence. Fabinho, in the meantime, can’t management the sport from his defensive midfield place like he used to. Not so way back, Liverpool dominated opponents with their breathtaking attacking capability and rock-solid defence, however their game-plan has now been uncovered by the failings of beforehand key gamers. Even Virgil van Dijk is trying like a participant together with his finest days behind him.
Judging by their first-leg deficit and battle to climb into the Premier League prime 4, Liverpool won’t even be within the Champions League subsequent season, so the rebuilding challenge could have to start out within the Europa League — and that sort of future is unlikely to attraction to prime targets corresponding to Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham.
Dawson: There isn’t any apparent winner of the Champions League this yr. Not solely is the draw going to open when Liverpool and one of Bayern Munich or Paris Saint-Germain exit, however established favourites like Manchester City confirmed they are often weak. City actually have work to do towards RB Leipzig in Manchester after drawing the primary leg 1-1 in Germany.
Real Madrid’s win at Anfield was probably the most spectacular efficiency of the spherical up to now however even they had been 2-0 down early on towards a Liverpool facet having a disastrous season. City, Real Madrid, Bayern and PSG will all consider they’ll carry the trophy in Istanbul, however so will Napoli, Internazionale and Chelsea. That’s at the least seven groups with a real hope of profitable it which ought to make for some thrilling second legs within the spherical of 16 and an exciting set of quarterfinals as soon as the draw is made.
Laurens: Four English golf equipment, zero wins. For all of the speak of English domination and Premier League supremacy, principally as a result of of their monetary energy, the primary legs of the spherical of 16 are a reminder that the remainder of Europe remains to be fairly aggressive. The outcomes are additionally a bit of a wake-up name as a result of Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur don’t have any margin for error of their ties.
Maybe the highest English golf equipment acquired too cocky, but it surely has been a fairly disastrous couple of weeks. Liverpool had been destroyed by Real Madrid, Tottenham weren’t ok in Milan, Chelsea had been overwhelmed by a wonder-goal and Manchester City fell asleep after an hour. Of course, all of them can nonetheless qualify (sorry, Liverpool followers, however not you) however even when coaches Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte, Graham Potter and their gamers do undergo after the second legs the place they are going to play at house, the notion of English superiority can have modified. They will not be unbeatable, they don’t seem to be miles higher than the remainder, it will not robotically be an entire English final 4, you may get to them. But these 4 golf equipment will even wish to present pleasure to undergo. The return fixtures will probably be fascinating.
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Which workforce that is behind of their tie has the perfect probability of progressing?
Dawson: Chelsea are on an terrible run beneath Graham Potter however they did sufficient throughout the 1-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund to counsel they’re greater than succesful of turning the tie round at Stamford Bridge. Whether they are going to or not is one other matter. Chelsea had 21 pictures and eight on track in Germany however had been ultimately overwhelmed by a beautiful solo purpose from Karim Adeyemi. Play in the identical method again in London and Potter can stay up for a quarterfinal, and from there who is aware of?
Chelsea actually have the gamers to frighten the favourites, if not the shape or the boldness. Form is a large downside and Potter, just a few months on from changing Thomas Tuchel, is already beneath stress — from followers if not but the house owners. Four wins from 19 video games shouldn’t be a run of outcomes which suggests they’ll go deep within the Champions League this season, however there have been indicators of life in defeat at Dortmund and the house leg is an opportunity to set off an upturn in fortunes.
Ogden: Tottenham had been fortunate to return from San Siro with only a 1-0 first-leg deficit towards AC Milan after conceding so many probabilities towards the Italian champions. But having saved Milan’s result in one purpose, Spurs ought to have the ability to discover the objectives to show the tie round of their favour within the second leg.
It is probably the closest of all of the eight round-of-16 ties in phrases of the energy and high quality of each groups. Neither will win this season’s Champions League and the quarterfinals will in all probability be the top of the road for whichever facet goes by. But despite the fact that Tottenham’s house report at their new stadium is patchy within the Champions League — Bayern Munich, Ajax Amsterdam and RB Leipzig have all recorded straightforward wins at Spurs — Conte’s facet ought to make it by.
Laurens: Paris Saint-Germain. For one easy purpose: they’ve Kylian Mbappe. The Paris prodigy solely got here on as a sub within the 1-0 defeat at Bayern Munich however his 30-minute cameo modified the entire dynamic of the sport. He despatched the Munich gamers into full panic mode, created probabilities and virtually scored. In two weeks on the Allianz Arena, he will probably be there from the beginning of the match.
Mbappe might be PSG’s solely hope, however boy is he a superb one. If there may be one participant succesful of turning this tie round and knock out Bayern in their very own yard, it is him. Straight after the top of the primary leg, he began galvanising his teammates for the second leg, insisting that qualification was attainable. Mbappe will probably be on a mission within the second leg and that is a scary thought for Bayern.
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After Liverpool’s 5-2 humbling at Anfield by Real Madrid, what’s probably the most gorgeous Champions League outcome that you have witnessed reside?
Laurens: Nothing will ever beat the 2005 last between Liverpool and AC Milan. There have been nice remontadas, superb twists and fantastic comebacks in the previous few years of course. But in Istanbul 18 years in the past, one thing surreal truly occurred, some kind of magic which made Milan go from world-beaters to scared of their very own shadow and made Liverpool play like if their lives trusted the ultimate outcome.
I’ve by no means seen an environment like that, the place every half of the stadium goes by each attainable emotion. I’ve by no means seen a collapse of the magnitude of the one Milan suffered that night time. From 3-0 as much as 3-3, the large probabilities missed in additional time when Liverpool had been on the ropes once more, and at last the penalty shootout. It was unbelievable. I can assure you already that nothing will ever surpass Istanbul 2005.
Ogden: Nobody who was at Liverpool’s 4-0 win towards Barcelona at Anfield within the 2018-19 semifinal second leg will have the ability to declare they attended a extra unimaginable, dramatic and unforgettable sport. Monaco’s 5-3 round-of-16 first-leg defeat at Manchester City in 2017 was gorgeous in several methods — Radamel Falcao and a teenage Mbappe tore City’s defence aside to tee up a second-leg win which took the French workforce by on away objectives, however whereas that sport was outstanding, it will possibly’t prime Liverpool’s rout of Barcelona.
Anfield on a European night time is particular. The Liverpool gamers are remodeled by the ambiance and opponents will be overrun, as Barca had been that night time. The abiding reminiscence is of the Liverpool followers turning on former hero Luis Suarez, who was by now enjoying for Barcelona. Suarez was cherished at Anfield, however with Champions League glory at stake even he was taunted by the hostile crowd, who performed their half in a historic Liverpool victory.
Dawson: The 2011 Champions League last wasn’t stunning as a result of of the outcome, however as a result of of the best way Barcelona utterly dismantled a Manchester United facet who had been enjoying of their third last in 4 years. Sir Alex Ferguson’s workforce had established themselves as one of the dominant forces in Europe, however at Wembley they had been swept apart by Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona who handled the sport like a coaching session for most of the second half.
The most memorable half of the sport was the half-time break. Somehow, after Wayne Rooney’s equaliser that had arrived out of nothing, United went in on the interval with the rating at 1-1. Anyone checking the scoreline would have thought that United had been effectively within the sport however the 1000’s of followers who had come from Manchester had been virtually silent at half-time. It was like they knew what was coming, they usually had been proper. Barcelona cantered to a 3-1 victory as United barely touched the ball throughout the second half.
Finally, decide your eight quarterfinalists!
Ogden: Tottenham, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Benfica, Real Madrid, Napoli, Porto, Manchester City.
Dawson: Bayern, Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Porto, Benfica, Napoli, Real Madrid.
Laurens: Tottenham, Chelsea, PSG, Benfica, Real Madrid, Napoli, Inter, Manchester City.