Great nights for two characters written off by the football world and another disaster in the biggest game in the world – here are the midweek winners and losers
There’a a huge amount of people who think the Uruguayan is past is best, too slow now to make a difference at the top level, too physically bloated to be Barcelona’s number 9. What more than two goals at the Santiago Bernabeu to silence everybody?
Suarez was devastating at what he has always done best – being lethal in front of goal. Barcelona are in the Copa del Rey final, and it was mainly El Pistolero who made it happen.
It might not be Sarri-ball just yet, but everybody loves a win against Tottenham. Chelsea got the job done, efficiently and with quality, to get rid of Spurs and get a vital boost in morale in a difficult time, and more importantly get an advantage in the fight for a top four-finish.
Kepa was benched, and the team kept a clean sheet. Pedro – who loves a goal against Tottenham – broke the deadlock, then Kieran Trippier put the game to bed by putting it in the wrong goal. Sarri can breathe.
He might not be the ideal midfielder for the Premier League, but Sarri loves him, and sometimes he does manage to show it. Defensively, he was perfect in the win over Spurs, managing the most interceptions (4), tackles (6) and balls regained (13). A Claude Makelele-esque performance in the Makelele role.
Not the result the Viola wanted, as Stefano Pioli’s men will have to win or score at least three in the return leg at Atalanta in April, after the first leg of the Coppa Italia in Florence ended 3-3.
It will be tough for Fiorentina. But the character shown remains amazing. Fiorentina were 2-0 down after 18 minutes, and then went behind again 3-2 in the second half. They managed a double comeback. With the Artemio Franchi cheering like few other times in recent years, with the choreography dedicated to the late Davide Astori, Fiorentina have shown their spirit at the top level.
The Santiago Bernabeu asked for a victory in their choreography, Madrid was ready to do their job after a solid away result at the Camp Nou. Lionel Messi had a bad evening. It could and should have worked out for Santiago Solari’s men. Los Blancos lost 3-0 at home to Barcelona, another Clasico going the wrong way over the past decade. Another massacre for Madrid in their own home.
Chelsea were properly struggling as of late, with Sarri on the edge of being sacked and the aftermath of the League Cup final loss to overcome. Tottenham had everything to win this game, leave Chelsea well behind and pursue their title hopes. Keiran Trippier’s own goal was the image of the night, as Mauricio Pochettino’s men crumbled at Stamford Bridge.
It was always going to be difficult, a miracle to say the least. Ranieri definitely knows how to make a dream come true. But the situation at Fulham was perhaps too much even for him. Oriol Romeu and James Ward-Prowse gave Southampton a win in the decisive relegation clash, and Fulham are now 10 points away from safety and looking for a new manager.
The Biancocelesti dominated at home in the first leg of the Coppa Italia against AC Milan, bombarding Gigio Donnarumma’s goal from start to finish. The Rossoneri defended well, solid throughout, but the outcome could have been very different had Lazio been more accurate. Simone Inzaghi’s men will have to score at the San Siro now in the second leg.