It’s been a while since I’ve written some sports stuff and with the Champions League last 16 popping its clogs I thought now’s as good a time as any to get back on that Shetland pony and ride it very poorly. I thought I had written about the last 16 draw when it was made but clearly I didn’t because it isn’t in my archives, so I’ll be honest and tell you what my picks would have been, and let’s be honest why the fuck would I lie?
Paris Saint Germain (a) 3-3 Chelsea
I did not see this coming; you’ve got PSG the most over rated team in Europe playing Chelsea, England’s best team and under the stewardship of the wily Jose Mourinho. It seemed to me like Chelsea all the way and my opinion didn’t change after the first leg despite the fact Chelsea were piss poor. Then the second leg happened and honestly Chelsea can’t complain they were shocking once again. PSG outplayed Chelsea in both legs of the tie and have deservedly went through; Chelsea must be pissed because they have just went out to a mediocre French team.
Chelsea will honestly have to consider their position going forward because they rely too much upon a small group of players with very little rotation, yes they will almost certainly win the Premier League but with the way the other English teams are performing you have to wonder if that in itself is actually an achievement. PSG went through and with Barca in the next round I don’t see them going any further because despite a good result over Chelsea they are pretty shit.
Man City 1-3 Barcelona
I’m not sure I’ve seen a more one legged affair between two supposedly top teams than I just witnessed between Man City and Barcelona. The weirdest thing is that 3-1 makes it look like City put up a respectable fight when it couldn’t be further from the truth. If Barca had been more clinical in both legs City really couldn’t have complained if Barca had made it into double figures on aggregate.
Barca going forward look really good, the question is whether that is down to them as a team improving (the front three is playing very well just now) or whether it was down to City’s general incompetency, the further into the tournament we go the further we will learn, personally I’d say Barca are looking really good. City are in deep trouble with an aging squad who look disinterested and with their hands tied by financial fair play. It is going to take a lot of clever accounting for them to be able to compete again next year as most of their players have little to no sell on value and they need a complete overhaul. I wouldn’t be shocked if next year was City’s last in the Champions League for a few years. I (like every sensible person) had Barca by the way.
Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Atletico Madrid (p)
Bayer probably won’t get a better chance to make it to the quarter finals than Atletico gave them, Atletico on the other hand will be wiping the sweat from their brow as they got lucky in this one. Atletico’s form this year has been very poor and if they are going to go further than the quarters then they are going to need to find the back of the net on a more regular basis than they are currently. I had Atletico going through but if Bayer had maybe practiced their penalties a bit more I’d probably have been wrong.
Juventus 5-1 Borussia Dortmund
This was a weird one because despite Dortmund’s form in the league their European form has been decent. I had them going through because Juve have a tendency to disappoint despite the fact that on paper they have what looks like a really good team. I didn’t think there was much in it and after the first leg it seemed like that was indeed the case, but as Kloppy says trying to beat an Italian team who are defending a lead is the hardest job in football. I didn’t watch the game however I imagine that the score in the end flattered Juve as Dortmund would have been pushing for the two goals they required and conceded late.
Dortmund won’t be in the competition next year (unless miracles happen) and that is a sad loss to the tournament. I’d be surprised if Juventus were capable of going all the way but as I have already said they do have a very good team on paper and if the draw falls kindly anything could really happen.
Schalke 4-5 Real Madrid
For all the world this tie looked dead after the first leg yet in what is a great example of a team taking their foot off the pedal and losing their intensity, Madrid almost and probably should have went out. Schalke were rampant in the second leg and if you are a Real fan you must be severely concerned at what you witnessed, yes Madrid look good going forward but against the better teams (Schalke was a very good draw) you won’t get as many chances and probably won’t score the same amount of goals but your defence will probably still be as calamitous.
Schalke can hold their head high after their performance; yes it doesn’t actually mean anything because being beat 10-0 would have had the same outcome but pride and shit. Real will be looking to the next round and their opponents Atletico who are very good defensively and haven’t lost to Real since the Champions League final, I’d be concerned if I was a Real fan.
Shakhtar 0-7 Bayern Munich
The only shock here was that Shakhtar got a 0-0 in the first leg. The tie looked totally one sided when the draw was made and so it eventually turned out to be. Yes the score probably flattered Bayern as Shakhtar got a very early red in the second leg but ultimately they were always due to go out.
Shakhtar did really well to get this far considering what has been happening in their back yard. Bayern were my tip to win the tournament and still are, a quarter final against Porto just solidifies it more.
Arsenal 3-3 Monaco (a)
Typical Arsenal, haven’t made the quarters in five years, finish second in their group but are gifted Monaco in the last 16, somehow lose 3-1 at home and of course follow it all up with a 2-0 away going out in typical Arsenal fashion. Monaco won’t have believed their luck as Arsenal didn’t show up in the first leg and then after giving themselves a chance with a late goal forgot they had the rest of the game to play and allow Monaco to further put the boot in. Who’d be an Arsenal fan?
Monaco going forward will like their chances against Juventus in a similar situation to their draw with Arsenal (not expected to win but not playing a top tier team). Arsenal will be kicking themselves because although Juve aren’t an easy team to play, they would have avoided the top teams and given themselves a really good chance of making the semi-finals, but alas.
Basel 1-5 Porto
Neither team should be at the quarter finals stage but one of them had to be. Porto won and instantly became the team everyone wanted to play in the next round (sorry Monaco). It is what it is and Basel found themselves at a stage to advanced for their ability and Porto continued to over achieve in the Champions League. I highly doubt that Porto will threaten Bayern.
I went 5-3 for my predictions, which at this stage isn’t particularly good (got PSG, Monaco and Juve wrong).
My predictions for the teams in the semis are Bayern, Barcelona, Juventus and Atletico (which is the only one which is a really tight decision and could go either way).
So the first knockout stage of the Champions League gave us a few shocks and we now have no English teams in European competition which is odd because there are still teams from Portugal, France (two) and Italy, all of which are vastly inferior leagues, which begs the question of what is going wrong with English football? That’s where all the money is but clearly it isn’t where all the quality is. I know these things go in cycles but English clubs as a whole have struggled over the last five years, yes that includes a Chelsea win and Utd final but the other teams from England in those years were poor.
What did you think of the last 16 of the Champions League and are you looking forward to the quarters? Leave a comment and tell the world.
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