Match Report – 27 Apr 2018

European football is back with the semi-finals of both the Champions League and Europa League. Liverpool and Real Madrid are one step closer to reaching the final, but Arsenal on the other hand, wasted an opportunity to gain big advantage when facing a 10-man Atletico Madrid. Here we round up the top matches in Europe this week.

 

UEFA Champions League 2017/18 Semi-Finals 1st Leg

25 April 2018

Liverpool 5-2 Roma

Roma entered the Champions League semi-final first leg well-aware of the the threat Salah possesses. And as such, they employed a high defensive strategy in an attempt to catch him offside, because clearly they lack the pace to actually catch the Egyptian trailblazer.

The Reds saw through the Romans’ plans and overwhelmed the Anfield faithful with five goals. Salah put on masterclass – 2 goals and 2 assists – while punishing Roma for their weak defence. However, with 15 minutes left on the clock, Klopp took a foot off the pedal and Di Francesco capitalised in a similar way his side did in the quarter-finals.

They turned it on and scored two quick-fire goals in the closing 5 minutes, while almost netting a third. Besides this mistake of switching off when they had a 5-goal cushion, Liverpool also suffered a major blow when Oxlade-Chamberlain came out of a 50-50 challenge with a knee injury which will see the Englishman miss the 2018 World Cup.

 

 

UEFA Champions League 2017/18 Semi-Finals 1st Leg

26 April 2018

Bayern Munich 1-2 Real Madrid


Bayern were missing key players in Neuer, Alaba, Vidal & Coman, in the Champions League semi-final first leg and things got worse when they lost winger Robben and defender Boateng in the first half. But somehow, the Bavarians were in complete control with Ribery and Lewandowski threatening the Real Madrid defence on too many occasions.

They did take the lead through Kimmich, but their failure to score more from their 17 shots on goal eventually cost them. Navas was vital in Los Blancos’ survival of Bayern’s onslaught, having blocked Ribery and Lewandowski countless times, but their knack for clawing back when the stakes are high was prevalent once again. Although Ronaldo was shut out by the Bayern defence, Real managed to get two goals against the run of play.

Real Madrid were not the better team on this night, but the fact that they bagged two away goals, Zidane has a better chance of making it to final three times in a row.

 

 

UEFA Europa League 2017/18 Semi-Finals 1st Leg

27 April 2018

Arsenal 1-1 Atletico Madrid

The result reads a draw, but Atletico Madrid were hypothetical winners when they visited the Emirates Stadium for the Europa League semi-final first leg. The visitors were dealt a major blow when Vrsaljko was sent off for two yellow cards in the opening 13 minutes, but Simeone employed a brilliant ‘Plan B’ by slotting midfielder Partey back into defence and dropping Griezmann deeper to absorb Arsenal’s pressure and run down the clock.

The Gunners failed to take full advantage of having one more man on the pitch, only scoring one goal courtesy of Lacazette in the 61st minute. You would know that Wenger must be fuming when his side’s scoring average on this night was under 4 per cent when they had over 70 per cent of the possession. Oblak was phenomenal in goal and was responsible for keeping Atletico alive. Griezmann’s tenacity to find the elusive equaliser will be difference-maker and could very well destroy Wenger’s fairy-tale send off.

 

With Liverpool’s 3-goal advantage, you’d think their spot in the final is safe, but Roma have turned around a similar deficit against Barcelona. The Reds should be prepared for an onslaught come the second leg next week. Real Madrid however, have a lot more to do, especially in defence, if they want to progress into the Champions League final against a toothy Bayern. Same goes for Arsenal’s chances in the Europa League. Will we see the English teams succeed next week?

 

 

 

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