Story by: Nathaniel Rivas
Football is back in full swing. No, not American football but fútbol. The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 took place over the past week and a half. Several players found their way onto the score sheet, and referees dished out a vast number of cards.
Some powerhouse teams struggled, while other teams showed up on the big stage. That being said, here are some headlines from the first leg in the Round of 16. All facts are reported from the UEFA Champions League website.
PSG dominates Barcelona, Dortmund loses
February 14 – FC Barcelona felt anything but love as the Spaniards visited Paris Saint-Germain and lost 4-0. Ángel Di María scored twice on his birthday, including a beautiful free kick and an even more impressive second goal. Lionel Messi struggled to gain a footing on the match as Barcelona was held to only six shots overall compared to PSG’s 16 shots. PSG played with determination to ensure history did not repeat itself, as the team hasn’t had much success in the knockout stages. Playing against powerhouse Barcelona doesn’t make it easier.
Meanwhile in Lisbon, Portugal, SL Benfica edged Borussia Dortmund with a 1-0 margin. Despite Dortmund’s 14 shots, the lone goal came from Benfica’s only shot on target thanks to Kostas Mitroglou. Only one goal in the second leg from Dortmund brings this battle back to a level playing field.
Real Madrid rolls, Bayern München destroys Arsenal
February 15 – Down early in the eighth minute to SSC Napoli, Karim Benzema led Real Madrid CF, the reigning kings of Europe, to a 3-1 victory at home in Spain. The star-studded team of Real seemed to struggle at the beginning after giving up an early goal. Cristiano Ronaldo couldn’t get his shots to break through, and Gareth Bale is still recovering from an ankle injury. However, Casemiro’s volley goal deserves one word: brilliant.
In Munich, Germany, FC Bayern München and Arsenal FC were level 1-1 at halftime with goals from Bayern’s Arjen Robben and Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez. But four second half goals provided Bayern a 5-1 victory at home. Robert Lewandowski, Thiago Alcántara (2) and Thomas Müller all found the score sheet.
Manchester City rewarded, Atlético Madrid victory
February 21 – Manchester City FC won in a shootout against AS Monaco FC with a score of 5-3. The combined eight goals are one shy of the Round of 16 record (9), while the teams also accounted for 10 yellow cards. Monaco saw Radamel Falcao score twice, but he missed a penalty kick as well. Sergio Agüero initiated the comeback for City.
Club Atlético de Madrid traveled to Leverkusen, Germany, and defeated Bayer 04 Leverkusen 4-2. Bayer’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernández” was held scoreless, and Antione Griezmann scored once for Atlético.
Leicester City woes, Juventus escapes
February 22 – The reigning champions of the English Premier League continued to struggled as Leicester City FC fell to Sevilla FC 2-1 in Sevilla, Spain. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel of Leicester played a sensational game, but the team could not deliver. Sevilla has not made it to the quarterfinals since 1957.
The first leg closed out with a Juventus Football Club 2-0 victory over FC Porto. Porto’s Alex Telles received two yellows with minutes of each other and was sent off in the 27th minute. Juventus did not score until the 72nd and 74th minute.
PSG means business. Their victory proved to be more of a PSG statement rather than a Barcelona collapse. PSG controlled the game on every level. From the first whistle, PSG pressured every ball and demanded respect from a well-respected and feared club.
Bayern is back. If anyone had any doubts about the Germans, those doubts have been silenced. They proved they can still dominate on the big stage.
Man of the Week:
Sergio Agüero. This man scored played past a bad yellow card call for flopping in the box in City’s 5-3 victory over Monaco. Agüero notched two goals including a sensational volley and assisted for one.
Matches resume starting March 7.
Featured Image Courtesy of UEFA Champions League