After a less than ideal start to this round of fixtures in Dortmund, all the games have been played. We are 90 minutes, and or extra time, away from knowing who will be in the semi-finals.
Winners: Real Madrid, Monaco, Juventus and controversially, Leicester.
Real Madrid were given a boost when Robert Lewandowski was seen to be absent from the match day squad. However, Los Blancos didn’t have it all their own way. The man who masterminded the much coveted tenth European crown was out to spoil the party. Bayern took the lead through Arturo Vidal and could have doubled their lead before half time had he converted a dubious penalty. Zidane sent his men out in the second half to continue their run of scoring in 52 consecutive matches and that they did. The equaliser came from none other than Cristiano Ronaldo. That being his 99th goal in European competition. Javi Martinez would then get a second yellow for a foul on Ronaldo before the Portuguese forward scored his 100th and important second away goal. Madrid left the Allianz with a win, 2 away goals and a good performance.
A dark cloud was cast over Dortmund’s game with Monaco following the bomb attack close to the team hotel. Thankfully, there were no casualties, but Marc Bartra was injured. The game was played a day later and it was clear from the first whistle that Dortmund were still struggling. Monaco took the lead early in the first half through French wonderkid Kylian Mbappe. Dortmund’s bad day got worse as Sven Bender headed into his own net to put Monaco 2-0 up. The Germans did eventually pull a goal back through their own French sensation Ousmane Dembele. Mbappe would then capitalise on a defensive mix up to finish emphatically past Roman Burki, before Shinji Kagawa restored some dignity to the scoreline. Under the circumstances, it was a decent result for Dortmund. With three away goal, Monaco are in the drivers seat.
Juventus, I think, were the biggest winners of all. They welcomed a Barcelona side fresh off of one of the best comebacks in Champions League history. The Italian giants still managed to make them look like mice. Paolo Dybala produced on of the performances of his career. The man that was touted at the next Messi, far outshone his compatriot. Two smart finishes in the first 22 minutes of the game pretty much ended the tie. Chiellini put gloss on the result with a very easy header on 55 minutes. Max Allegri outsmarted his opposite number, managed the game impeccably and made it look easy. Buffon once again illustrated why he’s still one of the best in the world. I know you should never bet against Barcelona, but if there was a team I’d put my house on to defend a 3-0 lead, it would definitely be Juventus.
Finally, my slightly contentious winner. Leicester City. Although they fell to a 1-0 defeat at the Vincente Calderon, they are still in touching distance for the return leg. The goal came about rather fortuitously. Griezmann was awarded a penalty for a foul that had occurred outside the box. The Frenchman dispatched the spot kick and gave Atleti the lead. Leicester will be looking forward to welcoming a team of Atletico’s quality to the King Power. The occasion will be huge, the stadium will be rocking. Leicester will be up for it and will have a point to prove. It won’t be the same game in the second leg.