Part two of the Champions League last-16 fixtures proved to be just as epic as last week with Man City and Monaco leading the way in thrills and spills
An already vintage Champions League season did not fail to deliver another week of fantastic football, with a total of 19 goals scored in four games including the visceral excitement of an unbelievable 5-3 encounter at the Etihad Stadium between Manchester City and Monaco. Atletico Madrid demolished Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus cruised past Porto and Leicester City showed they are still standing in Seville.
The face-to-face between Leandro Jardim’s Monaco, one of the most surprising sides of this season, and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, still trying to find themselves, was predicted as the game to watch. And what a game it was. Numerous defensive errors and some quality attacking delivered plenty of goals, and in the end a two goal difference should be enough for City to progress in Monte Carlo.
Radamel Falcao was the villain missing a penalty and then the hero, scoring with a sublime lob that will be remembered for some time. The Citizens demonstrated their spirit, though, recovering and scoring three to put themselves in a good position. This could be the turning point for the season for Guardiola, still trying to find the best way of getting over his philosophy in Manchester.
One figure who is already very known by his players is Diego Simeone, whose Atletico Madrid scored four in Leverkusen to all but secure a place in the quarter-finals. Bayer will have to score three at the Vicente Calderon: frankly, they need a miracle. It was almost too easy for the Colchoneros, who confirmed their pedigree in this competition.
A team trying to reaffirm their status in the Champions League are Juventus, finalists in 2015, and an outfit much fancied as a potential winner this year. The Serie A side’s maturity, solidity and overall quality was shown again in Porto, as Massimiliano Allegri’s two subs scored the winning goals. The squad depth is amazing, but what is most impressive is how easily Juve won and can return home happily. A 0-2 away result in Portugal is a very safe one. The Bianconeri will represent a threat for anyone in the draw.
One team who thought they were already through to the next round but then conceded a crucial goal are Sevilla, who seemed like they were cruising past Leicester City for most of the game, until Jamie Vardy scored his first ever Champions League goal to keep Leicester’s hopes alive. Losing 2-1 away is not a bad result, and this seems like one of the few ties that is still open.
With Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Atletico Madrid all victorious by at least a two goal margin, many of the round of 32 ties seem already over. Borussia Dortmund have everything it takes to overcome the 1-0 loss to Benfica, and Leicester can threaten Sevilla’s 2-1 win. The four smallest teams on paper are those delivering the highest uncertainty, whilst the other, bigger clubs, have shown some spectacular football, but often one-sided matches.