Football fans all over the world will have been more than grateful with the return of the magical nights from the biggest of all European football stages, after having their appetites properly whetted. The just-concluded round of 16 phases of the competition brought us familiar mesmerising displays from the best midfielders in the world, nimble-footed wingers, astonishing defenders and goalkeepers, and ruthless attackers.
There was plenty of headlines created, records broken, and history made. Chelsea was given a thumping in what is now seeming to be a special relationship between Bayern Munich and London clubs. Robert Lewandowski was irrepressible, continuing his blazing hot season so far by adding 2 goals and assists to his tally. This takes him to 13 goals as this season as the league’s highest goal scorer so far.
Meanwhile, Manchester City took out Real Madrid in a tight affair of exciting tactics, but a few defensive errors from Real would cost them the game. Take nothing away from City though as mesmerising displays from their midfielders was an assurance that the wind was in their sails.
The action was not lacking over at the Allianz Stadium that same night as the underdogs of the competition knocked out one of the heavyweights with one of football's all-time greats. With home advantage, Lyon flew over to Turin, and despite awful calls from the referee and the usual heroics from Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus were eliminated. Ronaldo did, however, went down in a somewhat blaze of glory scoring two goals to extend his own record for most knockout goals and to break a 94-year-old record in his last game of the season.
While Ronaldo was being eliminated, his eternal rival, Messi, was having a night to remember as his team overran Napoli in style. He scored a goal that would bring nostalgia to a lot of fans and had another disallowed by the video assistant referee much to the chagrin of Barcelona fans. This didn’t affect their statement that night as all Napoli could do was get a consolation goal in the game.
The off-field effects of this round were visible with Juventus sacking their manager – Maurizio Sarri, after one season after his comments that they were cursed. He was replaced appointing club legend, Pirlo as the new manager for the team. Also from Turin, a lot of transfers rumours have been arising linking their talisman Ronaldo, to financial powerhouse PSG, this summer.
With the quarter-final rounds in view, there are a lot of exciting features to look forward to, and punters can expect exciting odds from the bookmakers as well as entertaining football. Free-scoring newcomers Atalanta take on Paris Saint-Germain who are desperate to make use of their chance this season. Leipzig and Atletico fight it out in another battle between clubs that have never tasted success on this stage. Another duo of UCL-lacking clubs is also pitted against each other as underdogs Lyon takes on favourites City. The game to watch out for however is the one where the Bavarians take on the Catalans, both teams equally matched in Champions League trophies and prowess, in a clash that is sure to keep you at the edge of your sit.
Each team and each player left at this stage of the competition is playing with a very strong point to prove this season but there can only be one winner.
And this makes for mouth-watering anticipation of the fierce components that are most likely to ensue as Atalanta take on PSG on Wednesday night. And just like you guys – we can’t wait.