Here we go again. This time, there’s only a week between the two legs so we have less time to stew over what happened in these legs and how to anticipate the returns.
Juventus 0-3 Real Madrid
Juventus: This will be tough to swallow for the Old Lady. Paulo Dybala’s red card had shades of Luís Nani against Real at Old Trafford a few years ago, but this time it was a second yellow card after getting the first for a dive at the end of the first half. They had their chances at 1-0 with Dybala’s deflected free kick going just wide and Gonzalo Higuaín forcing a brilliant reaction save from Keylor Navas. Juve will feel aggrieved that they didn’t get a penalty, or at least a free kick on the edge of the box, for what looked to be an obvious handball against Casemiro, but at the end of the day they deserved to lose and are lucky that it was just three.
Real: Cristiano Ronaldo had two more goals, one of which was a bicycle kick that left Gianluigi Buffon standing still in goal. Marcelo added a third to make this tie all but won. Ronaldo has still scored in every Champions League match this season, but Zinedine Zidane may be disappointed that his side didn’t put this away to give the team an unexpected opportunity to rotate players and maybe catch Atlético Madrid for second in La Liga. Toni Kroos and Mateo Kovačić both hit the bar, and Ronaldo missed a tap-in that he normally pounces on in second half stoppage time for his hat trick. That being said, Barcelona lost 3-0 in this exact match last year, so Real can’t have too many complaints.
Prediction: Real advances 4-0 on aggregate. Juventus won’t implode defensively, but Ronaldo will score again to keep up his perfect scoring record, and Juve won’t create enough offense to threaten with their best player suspended.
Second Leg: Wednesday, April 11. Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
Sevilla 1-2 Bayern Munich
Sevilla: They got a subpar performance from Bayern, but unfortunately they didn’t take advantage. Pablo Sarabia scored, maybe with a hint of handball in his control, but he also missed a perfect chance minutes before. Bayern goalkeeper Sven Ulreich was barely tested, but were it not for unlucky deflections that led to both Bayern goals, Sevilla could’ve had the perfect performance. Instead, they gave up two away goals and now have to travel to Germany and make up a one goal deficit.
Bayern: They weren’t great, but they got the job done. Even with Arjen Robben and James Rodríguez off the bench, they nicked goals beyond goalkeeper David Soria with two lucky deflections. They squeezed Sevilla in a way that only big teams are able to do to smaller ones, and in that sense they deserved their advantage to take back home for the return leg. The only real worry is that Arturo Vidal had to leave early with an injury.
Prediction: Bayern goes through 5-1 on aggregate after a much livelier performance at home.
Second Leg: Wednesday, April 11. Allianz Arena, Munich
Liverpool 3-0 Manchester City
Liverpool: The Reds turned in the perfect performance, blitzing their English rivals from the first whistle and scoring three goals in the opening half hour. They’ve now beaten Manchester City twice on the season, both times at Anfield, and this performance was even better than the one they turned in during January, where they nearly let a three-goal lead slip in the final half hour. It could have been similar were it not for better last ditch defending to keep City out, since the team still suffered from a lack of organization at the back. The severity of the injury to forward Mohamed Salah could change the complexion of the second leg, especially given the importance of pressing to Jürgen Klopp’s tactics.
City: It was a curious decision to play center back Aymeric Laporte at left back, and it was exposed when Liverpool’s first and third goals came from their right side. It didn’t help when Kyle Walker dallied on the ball in his own six-yard box. Once again, Pep Guardiola gambled in a Champions League away leg, and like at Barcelona three years ago, he’s come away with a 3-0 defeat. But while he changed the shape halfway through at the Camp Nou, he made only one of three allowed subs against Liverpool. His City side won the match at the Etihad 5-0, but with the Premier League race over and both teams out of the FA Cup, there’s nothing left to play for besides this competition.
Prediction: Liverpool advances 4-3 on aggregate after making it far too complicated for themselves.
Second Leg: Tuesday, April 10. City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester
Barcelona 4-1 Roma
Barcelona: Barcelona was called “pragmatic” after their defeat of Chelsea; on Wednesday they were anything but. This was a Barcelona that knows it can wrap up the league soon, and preventing an extra high intensity match in the second leg is helpful to a team still in contention for the treble, as well as becoming Spain’s first ever “Invincibles.” As for the match, Barcelona’s pressure forced two own goals and scored two more, all four of them unstoppable for Roma goalkeeper Alisson Becker. Lionel Messi was still fairly quiet, but the team and the fans won’t care.
Roma: The underdogs just couldn’t handle the pressure, and the scoreline showed it. Edin Džeko got a goal, but this team didn’t expect to make it out of the group. Now they’re in the quarters, so they’re just going to enjoy the moment.
Prediction: Barcelona goes through 6-2 on aggregate after cruising to victory in Rome.
Second Leg: Tuesday, April 10. Stadio Olimpico, Rome