Hopefully, you all enjoyed Part 1, and you’re back for another round of “analysis” from your favorite random college senior. Shout out to everyone who’s made it to this eighth installment of “Champions League Reactions,” because we’re halfway there! Anyway, the games.
Olympique Lyonnais 0-0 FC Barcelona
In case you weren’t aware, Marc-André ter Stegen is on another level, and he needed to be at his high standard to make two important saves in the opening 10 minutes. Lyon had a couple of good passages of play, but this was all Barça, who for all of their sleepwalking through La Liga managed to turn it back on in Europe. It’s almost as if they heard the seed of doubt growing, and outshot Lyon 24-5. Lyon may have had a good group stage, most notably taking four points of an available six from matches with Manchester City, but the knockout stages are another animal entirely. The only complaint for the Catalans would be their wastefulness in front of the goal, which was also evident in their most recent league match against Valladolid, but there’s only so much time before they find their shooting boots again.
Prediction: Barça advances 3-0 on aggregate.
Liverpool FC 0-0 FC Bayern Munich
For basic thoughts on this match, see below.
If Porto-Roma is the price we have to pay for this I’ll do it every year #LIVBAY
— Jorge DeNeve (@Jorge_DeNeve) February 19, 2019
Follow me on Twitter; there’s some A+ content there. Now for my actual analysis.
This was end to end stuff at times, and despite no goals being scored it really was something else to watch. Maybe it’s the style of play or some really slick attacking, but both midfields looked disorganized defensively, and it took some good last ditch defending from both sides to block or clear some of the chances. Alisson Becker is a madman to hold the ball looking for a pass with Robert Lewandowski bearing down on him, and he was nearly punished for it. Bayern’s other big chance came from Joël Matip whacking the ball against his own goalkeeper’s chest. It’s also worth noting that I thought Fabinho, who was an emergency center back with Virgil van Dijk suspended for the first leg, looked to be the better of Liverpool’s two center backs. Liverpool were wasteful, but Manuel Neuer came up with a big save at his near post in the 85th minute, while Serge Gnabry looked to be the liveliest of Bayern’s attacking players. I’m a little surprised Niko Kovač waited for the 81st minute to bring on Franck Ribéry, who in my opinion was Bayern’s best winger available, and I think he didn’t quite give his side as good a chance as it could have had. The second leg promises to be exciting as well, with Arjen Robben and potentially Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain available again, as well as Van Dijk, but so far in this season’s competition, Liverpool are 0-3 with just one goal scored on the road with one of those losses coming to Red Star Belgrade. A 0-0 draw may not have been enough for them.
Prediction: Bayern advances 2-1 on aggregate.
Club Atlético de Madrid 2-0 Juventus
First off, Antoine Griezmann is overrated. I know he’s a very good finisher, but he needs service to get there. He gets way too much credit for the success of his teams, and I felt the same during the World Cup. That being said, Atlético executed its game plan to perfection. Juventus only had three shots on target. Cristiano Ronaldo, who at this point in the competition is almost a guaranteed goal, only had one chance with an early free kick. Diego Simeone managed to play players that have hardly had a kick of the ball, Jan Oblak was never really stretched but made the saves he had to make, and they got two goals from set pieces. The only issues would be Thomas Partey picking up a yellow that leaves him suspended for the second leg, Diego Costa’s poor finishing, and a goal for Álvaro Morata, who you know really needs confidence, being disallowed after a video review. Simeone gets to defend a two-goal lead in the second leg now, which is exactly what he wanted.
Prediction: Atlético advances 2-1 on aggregate.
FC Schalke 04 2-3 Manchester City FC
Everything went wrong for Schalke at the start, inviting pressure onto themselves and gifting the ball to David Silva, who gave Sergio Agüero one of the easiest goals he’ll ever score. City were more than a little sloppy, and Schalke caught them on the break for the first penalty, and for the second one Fernandinho didn’t need to make the foul since Ederson came and successfully punched the ball clear. That being said, Nabil Bentaleb stuck them both away confidently, and when Nicolás Otamendi got himself a second yellow with a stupid challenge, it looked like the German side would at least have a lead to defend in Manchester. Leroy Sané ended that thought with a brilliant free kick, then Schalke fell asleep on a long ball from Ederson, while Raheem Sterling took advantage of soft defending and uncharacteristically poor goalkeeping from Ralf Fährmann to score the winner. I’m a little surprised by Pep Guardiola’s tactics, namely playing only three defenders with both Danilo and Vincent Kompany on the bench, but he got away with it because Schalke are mediocre, even on an off day for City.
Prediction: City advances 6-2 on aggregate.
Stayed tuned for the second legs.