Big names with big Champions League title aspirations took some big hits this week, while Real Madrid showed why class is permanent
Only two-years-ago Spurs were battling with another Italian side – Fiorentina – for a place in the round of 16 of the Europa League. Time flies. Now they are dominating away to a team that has won six Italian league titles in a row, that is stuffed with experienced and quality players.
Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele bossed the midfield, Harry Kane and Dele Alli produced the quality up front needed to unlock the Bianconeri’s defence. It is rare that a team is so dominant in Juve’s home, yet Spurs were perfect in the middle, and up front, ending the game with 67% possession. The final result puts Tottenham in the driving seat in the return leg in London: staying focussed will be the key to progressing.
This mentality. ? ?
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 14, 2018
If Liverpool keep their firepower up front supplied and don’t concede at the back, they are one of the best teams in Europe. Sadly, this doesn’t happen often, but we had a perfect example against Porto. The Reds scored five and kept a clean sheet, in a stadium where it is difficult for anybody to play. A great signal of intent by Jurgen Klopp’s men for this European campaign, and a place in the quarter-finals already booked. Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino: not just a viral video with a fan’s song, but also absolute quality on the pitch.
Milner: We have to keep this momentum going
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 14, 2018
Paris Saint Germain
The lesson should have been learnt last season against Barcelona: never rest, never switch off. It takes just one or two shots for certain teams to kill you. And that is exactly what happened at the Santiago Bernabeu: in the final minutes of a game that Paris Saint Germain had dominated for the better part, Real Madrid scored two to finish it off, making the return leg a potential formality.
It will be very difficult for the Parisians to turn things around. Especially if they are not playing as a team: Neymar and Kyllian Mbappe always tried to solve things on their own, and the midfield did not help the strikers consistently. PSG dominated for a large chunk of the second half, but much more will be needed in the return leg to at least try and progress against a team that hardly ever fails when it matters most.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 14, 2018
Rarely had we seen a team so dominant at the Allianz Stadium as Tottenham. Despite going 2-0 up, Juventus were unable to use the momentum to their advantage and sat back, giving away the midfield battle control to Spurs.
It’s a step back for a team that was able to reach the Champions League final twice in three years. The Bianconeri had not conceded in 2018, and had only conceded once in the past 16 games: it happened twice in one evening. A lot of work will be needed to turn this around at Wembley, with the likely return of Blaise Matuidi in the middle and Paulo Dybala up front that will be absolutely crucial. For Juve to exit the competition at this stage would be an absolute disaster.