Ooooh boy folks, hold on to your butts. The Champions League knockout stage is upon us, and we’re not going to be disappointed I promise.
If yesterday’s and Tuesday’s UCL games are any indication of what the rest of the knockout games are going to look like, we’re in for a fantastic quarterfinals, semifinals, and hopefully final.
I’ll get these out of the way, because while they’re important, they’re not as interesting for the time being. Yesterday we saw Liverpool bend Porto over a barrel and show it the 50 states, in a 5-0 slaughtering that showcased Salah’s 30th goal of the season, as well as a Mané hattrick. With the signing of Van Dijk not being tested too much, due to a dynamic afro-brazilian attack, I don’t think the second leg will be much to worry about.
However, we’ve said numerous times on our Room Tekkers episodes, that if Liverpool are able to sure up the defense, that its offense would take care of the rest. And boy are they taking care. 7 Champions League goals for Firmino, and 6 apiece for Mane and Salah should be a scary stat line for any would-be quarterfinal opponents. Also, that Salah goal remind you of anything?
Manchester City was eating, as well, in a 4-0 routing of Basel (they were away, too). Aguero is showing the world why he shouldn’t be forgotten as a world class striker, as he registered his 14th goal so far in the calendar year and it’s only February…that’s nutty.
Gündoğan did some crazy shit as well, netting two goals of his own. It was a shame when you saw him be injured for so long at Dortmund, and then again at Manchester City, but it’s finally looking like he’s staying healthy for the time being. It’s also starting to remind people that he’s a really good frickin’ player.
Not worried for City’s sake, but only for any other team they might face.
The Real Games
There’s always a couple blowouts in the knockout – they’re not surprising. But we have two great games already on the docket, in Juventus v. Tottenham, and Real v. PSG.
Check out our Room Tekkers twitter, but I basically broke down my perception of what Spurs have become to me:
Also, a note: Tottenham are slowly turning into a fantastic European competitor…culmination of the last couple years of "they need time to develop" is here I think – it might be time for people to accept they can beat anyone.
— Real Good Soccer (@realgoodsoccer) February 13, 2018
They’re really growing into themselves, and showing the world that “they’ll be good 2 years from now” was 2 years ago, and they’re lethal now. Kane’s ability goes without saying, but the team’s organization under Pochettino for so long, has baffled some. While there are rumors he might go to Madrid to replace Zidane, I bet he stays for that long term success with a team he’s worked so hard to create.
They dominated Juve in a number of ways, and Dembele made the Juve defense look like school girls. A couple of close friends texted me, surprised at his ability. I’ve been saying he’s sick for years – I almost always get him on FIFA career mode. 2-2 draw was a relatively fair result, though advantage clearly in Spurs’ favor. Really excited to see how this one plays out. Predictions for second legs to come, by the way.
Madrid v. PSG was probably the most anticipated fixture of this Round of 16, with Ronaldo facing off against Neymar. I’ll get straight to the point here. Real Madrid may have had some problems this season, but they’re still one of the best teams in the world – I’d say top 3. It was no surprise to me that Ronaldo scored…reaching his 100th UCL goal for Los Blancos.
It was no surprise to me that PSG was able to score one – and good on you, Rabiot, for that. I’m 22 too and sitting at a desk while you’re out there dicing defenses apart. But when Madrid put in two goals in three minutes – I still wasn’t surprised. They let PSG play their game for almost the duration.
They held more possession, better chances, and had Marco Asensio. Sure, the PSG team is incredible. Sure, their defense is very well organized and a brick wall. But it’s not better than the dynamism of the Madrid offense. They’re that team. The team that just breaks through and ends up 3-1 after the first leg in a game that you’d watch and say “wow, these teams look very even.”
Do I think PSG could pull off being down two in the second leg and win? Sure. Will they? Absolutely not.
The second round of first-leg matches are coming next week:
Make sure you stay tuned, because I’ll most likely have predictions, as well as an eventual recap to go along.
Let’s go Blues.