UEFA Champions League: Round of 16 – Round Up

UEFA Champions League: Round of 16 - Round Up

UEFA Champions League Round of 16’s first four matches came to a conclusion on Wednesday and all lived up to agreeable expectations.

On Tuesday, Roma were quite efficient in their 2-1 win over Porto, while Manchester United were humiliated 2-0 in front of their own fans by a Neymar-Cavani less PSG. Wednesday saw a rampant Tottenham Hotspur in their 3-0 win over Borussia Dortmund, while Real Madrid left it late to beat Ajax 1-0 at Amsterdam. Here’s a full round-up of the action.

Manchester United 0-2 PSG

English giants Manchester United were given a reality check by Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night, with the French side securing an impressive 2-0 win at Old Trafford in the Champions League round of 16. This loss was the first of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign as interim manager, with his previous 11 matches resulting in 10 wins and a draw.

After a well-contested first half, despite missing both Edinson Cavani and Neymar, the visitors were clinical with two quick-fire goals; first Presnel Kimpembe turned home at the far post from an Angel Di Maria corner 53rd minute, before Kylian Mbappe finished off from another Di Maria assist 60th minute giving United a huge task to overcome. It would have been more but for some fine goalkeeping from David de Gea, but matters were made worse when Paul Pogba was dismissed late on for a second yellow card, meaning he will miss the second leg.

What’s next in the 2nd leg?

Manchester United and their interim manager are no strangers to dramatic comebacks. But the Red Devils have never overturned a first-leg home defeat to win a tie in Europe. Furthermore, Paris have not lost a UEFA Champions League home game since last year, when they were already trailing Real Madrid 3-1 from the first leg. It was very much a Paris affair in Old Trafford in the 1st leg this time around, and with Paul Pogba suspended, it will be very much difficult for United to overturn the deficit on 7th March.

Roma 2-1 Porto

Two goals from teenager Nicolo Zaniolo earned Roma a valuable 2-1 win against Porto in their Champions League last-16 first leg on Tuesday. The 19-year-old continued his superb breakthrough season by finding the net twice in six second-half minutes. In doing so he became the youngest Italian to score two goals in a Champions League match.

The opening goal came after Edin Dzeko knocked down Stephan El Shaarawy’s cross for Nicolo Zaniolo to drill past Iker Casillas and into the far bottom corner. The teenager doubled his tally by tapping in the rebound after Dzeko’s shot came off the left post. For Porto, Adrian Lopez, who had entered the field eight minutes before scoring, after replacing the Algerian Yacine Brahimi, finished with a cross-shot inside the area, after receiving the ball from Brazilian Tiquinho Soares.

What’s next in the 2nd leg?

As things stand now, this tie could hardly be more balanced heading to Portugal. In all the previous European Cup/UEFA Champions League knockout ties that the home side have won 2-1 in the first leg, 90 have gone through while 89 have been eliminated in the return. Roma contributed to those numbers at this stage last season, losing 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk before winning the second leg 1-0. The lead for Rome side is quite slender, so on 7th March, there is immense hope and calculation for Porto.

Ajax Amsterdam 1-2 Real Madrid

Spanish giants Real Madrid struck late in the second half to secure a 2-1 win over Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday. Real, winner of the last three Champions Leagues, recovered in the second half after being outplayed by underdog Ajax before the break at a packed Johan Cruyff Arena, when the hosts had a goal disallowed by VAR.

It was Karim Benzema, who struck a powerful shot past Andre Onana on the hour after a strong run from the left by Vinicius Junior to put the 13-time European champion ahead. Ajax were level with 15 minutes remaining as Neres broke free down the left before cutting the ball back for Ziyech, who slotted into the bottom corner. In the end, Real showed the pedigree of champions and struck in the final minutes through Asensio. Dani Carvajal received a ball down the right and swung a pass across that Asensio latched onto with his left foot end redirected into goal for the 1-2 final, giving Real a healthy advantage going into the return leg early next month.

What’s next in the 2nd leg?

Real Madrid will be strong favorites against Ajax to finish the job when they again face-off on 6th March, for the second leg, despite being outplayed for much of this first leg. The Santiago Bernabeu is a difficult place to go but, as CSKA Moscow demonstrated a couple of months ago, not impenetrable. So, though Santiago Solari’s side are favorites to march on in the premier competition, there is still a slender hope for the high-flying Dutch outfit.

Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Borussia Dortmund

Tottenham Hotspurs took a huge step towards the Champions League quarter-finals with an awesome display to comfortably thrash Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund in a well-earned 3-0 victory in arguably the club’s greatest night at Wembley. Second-half strikes from Heung-Min Son, Jan Vertonghen and Fernando Llorente meant the hosts had one foot in the last eight after a masterclass in management from Mauricio Pochettino inspired Spurs to a historic win.

Spurs were on fire after the first half, and Son Heung-min broke the deadlock two minutes after the interval with a side-foot volley from Jan Vertonghen’s cross. Dortmund, regarded by many as favorites with Spurs missing injured talisman Harry Kane as well as Dele Alli, failed to respond and the home side rammed home their superiority in the last 10 minutes. The outstanding Vertonghen slid in on Serge Aurier’s delivery and substitute Fernando Llorente headed in Christian Eriksen’s near-post corner, with Spurs also keeping a clean sheet to enhance their chance of progressing.

What’s next in the 2nd leg?

Tottenham have lost only once in their last five visits to Germany, although that defeat came at Dortmund in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg (0-3). Moreover, the London club have only twice lost a UEFA-competition tie after having won the home first leg, and both of those home victories had been by a single-goal margin. Dortmund, meanwhile, have won nine of the 16 ties in which they lost away in the first game and will have it all to do on 6th March, but to win with a 4-goal margin, seems like a pretty difficult job.



Real Madrid humiliated, Guillaume Hoarau shocks Juventus in Bern, six goals between Ajax and Bayern. The last day of the group stage of the Champions League has offered incredible matches. 

UEFA Champions League Results | Group Stage Last Fixture: Guillaume Hoarau’s double against Juve, the crazy match between Ajax and Bayern and the humiliating defeat of Real Madrid, here’s what to remember.


Real Madrid humiliated by CSKA

Santiago Solari decided to rotate his squad for this last Champions League game without a stake, Madrid being already assured of the first place. In front of CSKA, the Los Blancos lived an improbable ordeal. However, the teammates of Karim Benzema started very well in the match. Vinicius, the attacker, put forward his talent by performing a festival on his side before focusing on the French, too short (18th). A few minutes later, the Brazilian again illustrated with a superb cross-shot, forcing Akinfeyev to release a beautiful save.

Once the storm passed, CSKA finally came out and Chalov opened the scoring after putting Sanchez in the wind on a hook (0-1). The situation became very delicate for the Merengues when Schennikov scored a second goal just before the break (0-2). The latter resumed perfectly a bad release as Courtois crossed his shot. Real reacted in the second half, Isco harvested a beautiful situation in the 56th minute. The consequence was terrible for the Spaniard who suffered the whistles from his public with each touch of the ball. Misery was not over for Real who took the water in the 73rd on a goal from Sigurdsson after a good job from Chalov (0-3).


Manchester United takes water in Valencia

Before the Champions League match, Manchester was hoping to finish in first place in the group in case of missteps of Juventus in Bern (misstep that has also occurred). But Valencia hit the first thanks to Soler. The midfielder got benefited from a bad recovery of the defense to resume control (1-0). At the leading edge of the attack, Batshuayi missed a huge opportunity by placing his head above the ball while he was alone at the penalty spot. Pogba could not find the frame in the 35th minute. While all was yet to be done, the Premier League residents were sentenced by themselves when Jones sent the ball into his own goals (2-0). In total mastery, Valencia could have even led 3-0 without a big parade of Romero after a face-to-face with Mina. United finished second and Valencia goes to Europa League.


Guillaume Hoarau brings down Juventus

It was a festival of opportunities for Juventus in Bern. The Turinese offered themselves the biggest situations in the first half, especially by Cristiano Ronaldo. At the half-hour, on one of their rare incursions, the Swiss collected a penalty after a fault of Sandro on Ngamaleu. Hoarau was responsible for transforming it (1-0). After the opening goal, the Young Boys came out of their camp more easily despite the many strikes of Juventus (nine shots in the first period). The Italians touched wood early in the second act on a free kick deviated by Hoarau (47th). The former Parisian was definitely the star of the game when the latter defeated Bonucci before rolling his shot (2-0). Ten minutes before the end of the game, Dybala finally realized all the opportunities from a beautiful offering from Ronaldo (2-1).


Ajax and Bayern back to back after a crazy match

Leadership was at stake between Ajax and Bayern Munich. If the Bavarians were able to gain the upper hand very quickly, the match was fantastic contested too. Before the quarter of an hour, Lewandowski took advantage of a laser pass to finish quietly (0-1). After the break, the pace quickened. Logically, the Dutch returned to the scoresheet thanks to Tadic following a sublime collective action (1-1). As the pressure intensified, a red card from Wober after a dangerous tackle on Goretzka put Ajax in the hard. But ten minutes later, Muller was also expelled for one foot in the face of Tagliafico. Tadic put Ajax nose in front from a penalty (2-1). But Lewandowski equalized five minutes later from a penalty (2-2). In an incredible atmosphere, Coman scored the third goal for the Bavarian in extra time (2-3) before Tagliafico answered (3-3)! Bayern finished first, Ajax second.


Quickly led, Manchester City imposed itself without really shaking

Manchester City was scared in their last game of the Champions League group stage but assured the essential. Faced with Germans who had nothing to play, City cracked after a quarter of a game on a penalty conceded by Laporte. Kramaric scored and deceived Ederson (1-0). It was certainly a necessary wake up call for Guardiola’s men. City equalized from a jewel of Sane free kick (1-1). In the second half of the match, it was another goal from Sane that was a success for his team after a close run by Bernardo Silva (2-1). But, City has been far from reigning in this phase of matches.

Phillipe Sandler – Manchester City sign Sandler from PEC Zwolle

Sandler Philippe - Manchester City

Manchester City have confirmed the signing of Dutch centre back Phillipe Sandler from Eredevise side PEC Zwolle. The 21 year old cost city a sum in the region of £2.6m. The under 21 Dutch international centre back who can also play the defensive midfield role joined Zwolle from the Ajax academy in the year 2016. Sandler couldn’t quite believe that Manchester City were scouting him. He said: “I heard that scouts from Manchester City were watching me, but you do not expect as a player to go from PEC Zwolle to City.” Manchester City completed the signing during the winter break. 

Sandler says that he was very impressed with the way the officials of the club went about their business and most importantly was very happy about the plans they had for his development as a player. Another major reason he says was Pep Guardiola. Not many players think twice about joining a Pep team. The style of football that all his teams have played in the past and how Manchester City are playing now is a testament of how good a coach the great man is.

Manchester City have so far signed just one marquee player in the form of Riyad Mahrez. After loosing out on Jorginho, Pep will look to make at least two more additions to the Manchester City Team that already look like title favourites. With Champions league glory at the back of their minds, Manchester City and Pep have a squad that is full depth. Squad depth becomes really important for teams in the Champions league as seen in the case of Liverpool last season when Salah went off injured in the final and it left a huge void in the team without a fully fit and capable replacement. Manchester City’s latest signing Philippe Sandler is a great new addition to this Champion team and is surely one to watch for the future.