kayode OGUNDARE @kaybaba99:
Incredibly, after the four first leg quarter finals of the Champions League played over Tuesday and Wednesday, there’s not a single team with a win emphatic enough to suggest that the second leg could be a formality.
This, I must confess, must be a first ever in the history of UEFA’s flagship competition. If there was a precedence, I’m not aware of it. If you are, kindly let me know please.
Like my colleague Nurudeen Obalola observed, it is a distinct possibility that we could end up having Atletico Madrid, Benfica, Wolfsburg and Manchester City in the last four from quarter-final pairings which involved Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and PSG. You think it’s not possible? Think again.
To understand how we got to this state of uncertainty, let’s take the games one after the other to see what transpired, scorelines and the different scenarios that could happen for each of the teams to go through.
Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona (1- 2agg)
We start, understandably, with the all-Spanish fixture between Barcelona and Atletico at the Camp Nou which ended 2-1 in favour of the home team courtesy of Luis Suarez’s brace after Fernando Torres had shot the visitors into the lead.
A combination of Torres’ moment of madness, inconsistency by the referee and touch of luck for Suarez turned the tie on its head.
The former Chelsea striker, apparently giddy with over-excitement for scoring such an important goal and eager to impress the manager committed two totally unnecessary fouls, was booked for each one and subsequently sent off.
Referee Felix Brych was generous with his cards but failed to book Suarez for two clear fouls. You can’t get more inconsistent than that, can you?
So, as it turned out, Torres scored a goal and was sent off while Suarez who should have been sent off stayed on to score two goals and leave the game in a delicate hanger.
Both teams had contrasting fortune preparing for this game. Atletico tripped to Espanyol to grab all three points in a 3-1 defeat of the homers courtesy of goals from Fernando Torres, Antoine Griezmann and Koke after their opponents had raced into a shock lead via Pape Diop’s 29th minute goal.
Barcelona, on the other hand, fell to a shock 1-0 loss to Real Sociedad after Mikel Oiarzabal’s opener on 5 minutes. It was a second successive defeat for the Blaugranes following the El-Clasico loss to Real Madrid and effectively cut their lead over the Rojiblancos to just three points.
So, as it were, it is La Liga’s first and second battling over 90 minutes for a place in the Champions League last four.
– To go through, a win or draw of any hue will see Barcelona into the semifinal.
– They could also qualify if they lose, provided its not 1-0 but it must not be more than by a single goal difference e.g 3-2, 4-3, 5-4 etc.
– Atletico will qualify if they win 1-0 or more. A 2-1 will drag the game into extra time and penalties.
Benfica vs Bayern Munich (0-1agg)
Arturo Vidal scored with barely one minute on the clock and fans at the Allianz Arena would have been looking forward to a goal-fest but, try as they did, Bayern were not able to add to that solitary strike as the game ended 1-nil.
Benfica admirably weathered the onslaught and kept themselves in the tie. Now they have it all set up for the second leg at home where they can claim a famous scalp by dumping Bayern out of the competition.
But, I must warn, Benfica are condemned to score at least one unreplied goal to drag the game into extra time and penalties.
And, I fear, this is where the Portuguese side must be very, very careful because, in trying to come out and score against Bayern, they could leave their soft underbelly for the ruthless Bavarians who are capable of scoring as many goals as possible.
Over the weekend, Benfica won 2-1 at Academica with goals from Konstantinos Mitroglu and Raul Jimenez to stay top of the Portuguese Liga while Bayern Munich also made all three points count at VfB Stuttgart with a 3-1 win courtesy of goals from David Alaba and Douglas Costa after a Georg Niedermaier own-goal.
– Benfica will go through with a 2-0 or any 2-goal margin e.g 3-1, 4-2, 5-3
– A 1-0 win will take the game to penalties
– Bayern will go through with any kind or victory or a draw.
– The Bavarians will also go through even if they lose 2-1
Man City vs PSG (2-2 agg)
A penalty miss for Ibrahimovic, Blaise Matuidi and David Luiz to miss second leg, Yaya Toure and Raheem Sterling likely to be back and you know why the decisive second leg looks like a shoo-in for Manchester City who got an improbable 2-2 draw from Paris on Wednesday.
But if you think PSG will go to the Etihad and roll over for City, then you need to think again.
For one, PSG have enough quality to get a result wherever they need to. Two, they beat Chelsea on their last trip to England so winning there won’t be an impossible task. Three, they’ll have Marco Veratti, arguably one of their most consistent players back. Oh, and Zlatan will feel his pride injured by that penalty miss so you can trust him to break bones if need be for a win.
To prepare for this all-important clash, PSG won a routine 2-0 victory at Guingamp with a Lucas Moura brace but Manchester City had to dig deep before overcoming hard-fighting West Brom 2-1 at the Etihad courtesy of a Sergio Aguero penalty and Samir Nasri’s winner which cancelled out Staphane Sessegnon’s opener.
– A 0-0 or 1-1 draw or any kind of win will see Man City through to the next round.
– PSG must win or pull a score draw of 3-3 or above to go through.
– A 2-2 draw will take the game to extra time and possibly penalties.
Real Madrid vs Wolfsburg (0-2 agg)
This was the real stunner of the four quarter-finals but any discerning observer won’t be surprised at the result if you consider the fact that Real survived a pummelling from AS Roma at the Santiago Bernabeu due more to the profligacy and relative inexperience of the Italian team than from any real industry on the part of Zinedine Zidane’s men.
It was hard to believe that the same team which defeated Barcelona even with a man down few days earlier was being run ragged by the ‘minnows’ from Germany.
Though nothing is decided yet but Wolfsburg go into the second leg in the strongest possible form and, should they keep their nerves and balance dor the first 45 minutes without conceding, then they would have forced Madrid into a tight corner.
The longer the game goes on without a goal, the more desperate the home side will get and the higher the tendency to make mistakes.
Truly, you can’t help but fancy Wolfsburg’s fairytale run to continue. At least, into the next round, if not longer.
Real trounced Eibar 4-0 on Saturday to make the La Liga race more interesting while Wolfsburg had to settle for a 1-1 draw at home to Mainz 05.
– Madrid must win by 3-0 or more to go through.
– A 2-0 win will take the game into extra time and possibly penalties.
– Wolfsburg will go through if they lose 1-0. A 2-0 loss will only drag the game into extra time.
So, beautiful folks, what do you say? Who do you reckon will go through in the four fixtures?
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