By Will Caraccio
The UEFA Champions League Quarter Finals are set! After a jam-packed month of thrilling matches, with Europe’s top clubs playing against each other over two-legged ties (two matches to decide the winner), the best 8 teams have emerged victorious, qualifying for the Quarter Finals of Europe’s biggest sporting tournament.
The Round of 16 began with the highest scoring, perhaps most action-packed fixture we have seen so far in this year’s competition: Sevilla vs. Dortmund. While Lopetegui’s men performed valiantly, with Lucas Ocampos and Yussef En Nesyri putting on an emphatic performance, the yellow and blacks of Dortmund came out on top almost exclusively thanks to their young, mercurial talent Erling Haaland. Bagging a brace in both the home and away legs, Haaland demonstrated his world-class ability and striker’s instinct on the biggest stage.
Barcelona versus Paris Saint-Germain, a true clash between European football giants, drew the most attention in the Round of 16. Though suffering a brutal 4-1 loss in the first leg, Barcelona were able to hold their ground in the second leg, forcing a 1-1 draw. Thanks to rising star Kylian Mbappe, PSG saw their way through to the Quarter Finals.
Many fixtures went according to plan, with the strong favorites taking commanding leads in both the first and second legs. In Manchester City versus Borussia Monchengladbach, the Premier League leaders dispatched their German rivals with ease, scoring 2 goals in both legs without conceding any. Similarly, in the fixture between Bayern Munich and Lazio, the reigning German champions of Munich played ruthlessly, beating the Italian underdogs 4-1 in the first leg and 2-1 in the second. “Los Blancos” of Real Madrid also passed through to the Quarter Final with ease, beating Italy’s Atalanta with a 4-1 aggregate score line. Despite their poor performance in the Premier League of late, Liverpool F.C. returned to their fantastic Champions League form against Julian Nagelsmann’s R.B. Leipzig, completing a convincing win with a 4-0 scoreline over two legs.
However, as with most Champions League rounds, there were a number of fascinating upsets in the Round of 16. Against all odds, F.C. Porto–a Portuguese club with little European prestige to their name–managed a thrilling victory in their fixture against Juventus F.C., one of the most historic and accomplished clubs in the Italian league. Thanks to an exceptional defensive effort by Porto’s central defender Pepe, and a last minute free-kick screamer by striker Sergio Oliveira, Porto beat Juventus on away goals with a score of 4-4 on aggregate. While in less dramatic fashion, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea F.C. proved skeptics wrong by defeating Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid, current leaders in the Spanish league. With a stunning bicycle kick goal from Olivier Giroud and calculated, dynamic team play, Chelsea made it through to the Quarter finals with an aggregate score line of 3-0.