Match Report – 8 April 2018

As anticipated, it was indeed an epic week for football as we saw the start of the Champions League quarter-finals. While Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich produced results that were expected, Liverpool pulled off an upset worth talking about for months. Elsewhere, Arsenal also shined in the Europa League, but most notably, the derby in Manchester provided a spectacle that left us at the edges of our seats. Here’s a recap.

 

UEFA Champions League 2017/18 Quarter-final Leg 1 of 2

Liverpool 3-0 Manchester City

What a fantastic result for the Reds, as they claimed an emphatic win over Manchester City in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final. On a night where Liverpool were deemed as the underdogs, Klopp’s attacking strategy of Firmino, Salah and Mane clicked to overcome an out-of-sorts Blues who were completely listless and wasteful.

Besides Salah’s current habit of scoring and Firmino’s exploits in the final third, Milner was an unsung hero for the Kop, pulling off passes that mattered and registering a total of seven assists in the UCL this season – three more than any other player.

Perhaps a mistake by Guardiola from the get-go and the root cause of his loss, was to start Gundogan instead of the in-form Sterling. The German never found his ground and was eventually replaced by, ironically, Sterling himself. Who knows what would have been different if the Blues took another approach. Also, the lingering derby with Manchester United could have affected the Manchester City’s mindset going into this tie.

 

 

UEFA Champions League 2017/18 Quarter-final Leg 1 of 2

Barcelona 4-1 AS Roma

Results-wise, Barcelona did us the favour of meeting expectations by coming away with the win at the Nou Camp in the Champions League quarter-final fixture against Roma.

The result continued the prove that any team with Messi will thrive, but it wasn’t without luck when Barca picked up two goals thanks to as many own goals along the way. The Italian side can only blame themselves for carelessly giving away goals to Barcelona, indicating that they could have been nervy in this UCL fixture, which they have never successfully progressed.

However, Dzeko did manage to pull one back for Roma, and this away goal could be a key factor in the corresponding tie in Rome next week. If Barcelona continue to be scrappy and unconvincing, Roma have a chance to break their Champions League quarter-final duck and come up with an upset.

 

 

UEFA Europa League 2017/18 Quarter-final Leg 1 of 2

Arsenal 4-1 CSKA Moscow

Wenger would have to thank Ozil for the exemplary outcome at the Emirates Stadium in the Gunners’ quarter-final win over CSKA Moscow in the Europa League. The German wizard was involved in the move for Arsenal’s first goal, won the penalty for the second, and provided the assists for the third and fourth.

However, both sides were defensively dismal – just that the Russian side failed to take advantage. Arsenal may have scored four on this night, but the fact that they had 14 more attempts to increase their cushion, and failed, this could come back and haunt them next week in the second leg.

 

 

English Premier League 2017/18 Week 33

Everton 0-0 Liverpool

This was a wasted opportunity for Everton to grab three points and bragging rights over Liverpool in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. Klopp fielded a ‘softer’ team as he didn’t want to risk legs ahead of the quarter-final second leg against Manchester City this week.

Salah, Robertson, Alexander-Arnold, Firmino and Chamberlain were left out, and this saw the Reds struggle to threaten the Everton goal. Allardyce was left to rue four golden opportunities to find the net on an evening where Milner was the standout performer on the pitch – could he come out of international retirement and feature in the 2018 World Cup? In sum, Everton were unlucky to come away victors, while Liverpool have to thank their fortunes to take away one point from this fixture.

 

 

English Premier League 2017/18 Week 33

Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United

It was complete mayhem in Manchester in the derby of derbies, which saw Mourinho overcome the Blues, denying them of a title celebration by coming back from a two-goal deficit to win 2-3. Pogba had a lot to do with the Red Devils’ revival from an abysmal first period, in which Manchester City dominated with two goals.

However, Guardiola can only fault Gundogan and Sterling for wasting two more clear-cut opportunities which could have made it 4-0 at the break. Mourinho’s team-talk spurred Pogba to finally awaken and net twice (including the equaliser) in less than two minutes. The Citizen’s were unable to handle a motivated United side, whose key to victory was heavily due to the way they moved the ball more than any team has against City.

They pressed a bit higher and kept the shape well enough to get a deserved three points. But, this doesn’t change the Premier League standings, as Man City still remain on top, requiring only one more win to secure the title. A different thing must be said about Guardiola and his team’s psyche, losing twice in a row.

 

 

La Liga Week 31

Real Madrid 1-1 Atlético Madrid

The spoils were shared in the Battle of Madrid, but based on the amount of abuse Atletico had to take – a total of 30 shots at their goal – Griezmann and co. were the figurative winners as they escaped with a point at the Bernabeu, but they also had Oblak to thank for keeping out the fire power of Los Blancos.

Ronaldo showed no signs of fatigue from the Champions League quarter-final win over Juventus when he resoundingly volleyed home his 26th goal in 14 games. If there was anything to take away from this game, it’s almost certain that neither of them will win the league, but a crucial talking point would be Real’s poor finishing that eventually cost them the full three-points. It’s safe to say that the white side of Madrid don’t deserve to be called Spanish champions this season.

With the exciting derbies out of the way and all major European domestic leagues pretty much summed up – well, only for Bayern Munich of course – all eyes should be turning to the second leg fixtures of the Champions League quarter-finals, where neutrals worldwide would be looking for a comeback of epic proportions at the Etihad Stadium, or even at the Bernabeu. What’s more likely though, is Sevilla springing a surprise retaliation when they host the reigning German champions on the back of a 2-1 deficit.

 

 

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