Winners and losers of the Champions League



Diego Simeone
This is still happening. It may well be that better European coaches are making a title challenge over the course of an entire campaign. There are certainly coaches in Europe whose teams play better offensive football. But there is no coach in the world that you would prefer to face in a difficult environment where there are draws in the Champions League.

Simeone's teams make the task extremely difficult for the opposition, eroding their minds and punching them in the belly for good measure.

It was the most intriguing meeting of the last 16. It has brought the two big recent winners of the Champions League closer together, but two sides that come out at this early stage could cause significant spin-offs. We also expected it to be the most closely matched game of the round.

Winning 1-0 would have allowed the Simeone team to get a foothold to help stay on the side of the mountain in Turin as Juventus suffered and tried to blow up their home. Sometimes, they are convinced that Simeone only plays for a 1-0 win. But 2-0 was a dream country.

Gather all the managers of these clubs who reach the quarterfinals and ask them to raise their hand if they want to face Atletico. Then watch them look at each other and try not to make you look through the eyes.

Atletico has not only excelled by his resilience and his glorious bastardy; they perfected the art. Watch where this year's final is played. They could not, is not it?

Manchester City, despite them
You know the pattern now. Manchester City takes the lead in the first half and seems to be able to score one or two times faster. Then, stupid mistakes slip into their game, reaching a crescendo when the equality of the opponents equals. To date, City has become a prisoner of its shortfall and is struggling to assert its authority. This negligence helps to energize the opposition.

Even by the standards of Southampton, Leicester City, Huddersfield, Arsenal and others, it was bad. Nicolas Otamendi becomes a handicap after his excellent year 2017/18. The disadvantage of playing Fernandinho as a central defender is that his tactical fouls are more likely to occur closer to City's goal. The Brazilian has now imposed penalties on Newcastle and Schalke in recent weeks.

But the difference between City Premier League and Champions League lies in their ability to cope with adversity. Since the beginning of 2018, City has only taken a point in the Premier League in games during which he has fallen behind (Wolves in August 2018). In the Champions League, City has been late in four of its last six games and has won three wins and one draw. Thus a familiar reaction occurred in Gelsenkirchen with ten men. It takes courage to accompany fantastic attacking skills.

Still, you can see why Guardiola could be angry after seeing this same show repeatedly over the past three months. After the match, Guardiola argued that City could not win the Champions League if he continued to allow his opposition to fight the initiative. Given the degree of opposition that the city will likely face in the quarter-finals, if they progress, it is difficult to argue.

Alvaro Morata
He escaped his Premier League nightmare and joined a club and coach much more likely to play than his opponent with Chelsea. Morata had already scored a goal on his course before playing a vital role in the first match of Atletico. He needed a home where he could rediscover his love for the game and wish him good luck.

Leroy Sane
Twitter is a cesspool, but it still rarely has moments of glory. One of those moments is when a magical goal is scored in a high profile game and your timeline becomes a long list of messages that would not seem out of place in Beano or Dandy, each with comic vowels. Think "whoooooooosh", "ooooooof", "whaaaaat?", "Baaaaang" and "wooooaaaaaah".

The free kicks that escape terribly beyond the reach of the goalkeeper are great, taunting the fingers extended from his glove. Free-kicks at home using the laces rather than the instep are also great, with extra points if they rise and climbs still when they hit the goal. But to get a great free kick of great quality, you need a mix of both. Enter Leroy Sane.

Jordan Henderson
If you want to be a little naughty, you can conclude that Henderson, Liverpool's best player, says as much about the team's performance as his own. Henderson is a midfield firefighter more than a designer, but you can only fight fires if a person has left the hob or carelessly thrown a lit cigarette.

But Henderson can not control the level of performance of those around him. The Liverpool captain used his program notes to dismiss the idea that everyone was going out of their way and putting the Premier League ahead of the Champions League. Henderson then spent the next 90 minutes proving his opinion while his teammates had the opposite case. The competition for places in the central Liverpool midfielder, higher than in almost every club in Europe, gives him the best.

Defense of Bayern Munich
Perhaps we underestimated Bayern Munich, just as we underestimated Paris Saint-Germain last week before they spent the last ten minutes of their first leg match at Old Trafford by performing countless passes while their supporters were grieving. We are sometimes a little carried away by the perceived strength of the English teams. Rules of familiarity.

But then there was evidence that Bayern was down, or at least out of order. Niko Kovac's team is about to lose more points this season than in any of the last seven Bundesliga campaigns and concede more goals than in each of the last 20.

This defensive vulnerability had been particularly evident in the toughest away games: they had conceded three goals away at Borussia Dortmund, Ajax and Bayer Leverkusen. In six games in 2019, Bayern had not been whitened. The form of Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng had left supporters worried that both were irrevocably disappearing.

But when Kovac really needed a strong defensive effort, his call was answered. Hummels and Niklas Sule were excellent against Liverpool's top three, meaning that Bayern was not exposed, even with David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich bowing behind their backs. After thwarting this plan, the two men superbly handled the Liverpool Plan B crossing. Trent Alexander-Arnold alone has tried 11 open play centers. This total has only been beaten twice in a Champions League match this season.

Liverpool and Bayern are both going to believe that a 0-0 first leg is a great success, but Bayern will not be afraid. Since April 2014, Bayern has won 22 of its last 26 home league games. They scored at least three times out of 16 of the 26 participants. The defense did its part. Now, the attack must intensify.

They are still clearly neglected as they went to a stadium in which Barcelona failed to score nearly a year ago and have scored three goals per game in the Champions League in the last two years. But Lyon should go to Camp Nou with a sense of hope and effort, knowing they have scored in each of their Champions League matches this season.

More importantly, Lyon is a team firmly on an upward curve. Of the 13 field players used Tuesday night, 12 were 25 years old or younger and 10 years old or younger. It is a generation in gold.

Serge Gnabry
Gnabry was not brilliant at Anfield (though he flayed Andrew Robertson more than once), but look at the progress he's made. His last two appearances in England were 56 minutes for Hoffenheim in a 4-2 defeat at Anfield in August 2017 and 68 minutes in a 3-0 League Cup defeat against Norwich City for West Brom in September 2015. These are the advantages of moving from the Premier League to the Bundesliga before every guy tries.

Asked to do an unknown job under difficult circumstances and, apart from a few flaps at first, seemed very confident. Bayern's content with a 0-0 defensive draw facilitated Fabinho's task, but that does not stop him from affecting his display. This is precisely the type of performance that embodies a player to his manager.

Uh … Liverpool?
Basically, it is impossible to know if Liverpool should be satisfied with the result of his first leg. Since the creation of the Champions League in 1992, 22 times out of 31, the team that shot the away match has progressed. But Liverpool should not be discouraged. They will travel to Munich with Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren. They know that a goal outside Bayern will force Bayern to score at least twice.

Liverpool has certainly failed to score twice in the Champions League this season (Napoli and Crvena Zvezda), but they have scored in all the away games in all competitions since May 2018. Look at the good side.


Cristiano Ronaldo
Just after half-time in the Wanda Metropolitano, after being provoked throughout the first half, Cristiano Ronaldo opened his hand and extended five fingers to indicate the number of titles won in the Champions League. An hour later, his hopes of getting involved in the second hand had been seriously undermined. To make matters worse, Atleti was delighted to see the ball deviated by the Portuguese for their second goal.

Do not underestimate how much an early exit from the Champions League would hurt Ronaldo. In the past 12 seasons, he has won the competition five times and has failed only once in the semifinals. One of Ronaldo's motivations for joining Juventus was to make a difference in Europe. He wanted to win the Champions League with a different third club and join Francisco Gento in six European Cup wins.

Unless a dramatic turnaround in the return match (which he will surely inspire), Ronaldo's dreams were shattered in his first season at Juventus. It's not going well.

VAR for handball decisions
I am not totally against the concept of VAR. I understand why this was extremely useful during the match against Juventus between Atletico and Mercredi, when a fault in the penalty area proved to have been committed off the surface and that the problem was resolved quickly. VAR can work for in / out, on / off or yes / no decisions, totally non-subjective and generally much easier to take effectively. In general, I am satisfied with an imperfect sport in which referees make mistakes, but I understand why clubs would prefer their elimination.

But when you present VAR for subjective decisions, you create problems. Rather than an instantaneous yes / no decision, you simply pass the decision of a referee on the ground to an umpire overseeing a screen, which can take several minutes to make that call and thus frustrate those who monitor in the Stadium. Different people will have different opinions, even those who will be asked to make decisions under the same set of rules. It always happened in football, and always will be.

In case of handball, everything becomes a joke. The rules themselves are vague enough to leave decisions open to interpretation, but the absurd aspect is to watch idle reruns to pass the call. Otamendi was trying so obviously to move his hand away from the balloon. Was the intention of the handball law that players could actually aim for the defender's hand in the hope of a penalty?

In slow motion, everything looks like handball. By slowing down the speed to make the decision, you falsify the event. Rant on.

Three ahead of Liverpool
Coughed and splashed their chances. The three Liverpool men either took their chances on Tuesday night or lost them trying to take a touch too much. It was a Goldilocks attack show where nothing was ever right.

It seems ridiculous to criticize Mohamed Salah, given his goal for both this season and last season, but he supports match periods when he looks distinctly amateurish, guilty of poor touch-ups and a catch even worse decision. Against Bayern, most of the match was played out in this strange fog.

Around Salah, Roberto Firmino plays a selfless role, but you can forget that he is on the ground. Sadio Mane is the opposite, he constantly asks for the ball but goes from the sublime to the ridiculous when he reaches it. Mane should have scored the first goal in the first half and spent the rest of the game too much trying to repair.

During matches that Salah fails, Mane is often Liverpool's star player. If it produces magic, then click on Liverpool. If it fails, Liverpool wobbles and flitter but lacks offensive penetration.

Jurgen Klopp will minimize any worries about Liverpool's failed attack, but it's not new. Since December, when they had scored almost three per game, all competitions have been scored more than once in two of their eight matches. Old Trafford would be a practical stage to rekindle this fire.

Luis Suarez
I'm never afraid of making the same mistake twice, so here you go. Last season, in this column, I wondered if the era of the majesty of Luis Suarez was about to end. He had three goals in all competitions in mid-November. He then scored 14 goals in 13 games from December, which made me ridiculous. By the end of the season, Suarez had scored 31 goals in all competitions.

Now, I'm still wondering. Suarez has not scored in a match outside the Champions League since September 2015 and has not scored or helped a goal in the competition for more than 1,000 minutes. Tuesday night, he missed his chance and slowed his game unnecessarily. He stands out in this Barcelona team and this is not a compliment. Suarez turned 32 last month, but his next match will be the 700th of his senior career. At some point, the decline becomes inevitable.

But that does not help Barcelona. Ernesto Valverde must consider moving Lionel Messi to the center and bring back Philippe Coutinho on the left and Ousmane Dembele on the right to give Suarez a break. He has scored seven goals in all competitions since Nov. 3. Messi is 18 years old.

Memphis Depay
Our early loser
can talk, but is too busy running before even trying to walk.

Domenico Tedesco
Has earned the reputation of being a brave and forward-thinking young manager, but Schalke flies wing in the Bundesliga. There is clearly no shame in losing to Manchester City on two legs, but when you win the first leg 2-1 against ten men and you bring a central midfielder for an attacker and you lose 3-2, the questions will be asked. asked. If that sounds unfair, welcome to the big leagues.

Daniel Storey


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