- UEFA Champions League
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The Champions League returned on Tuesday night, with the first-legs of the last-16 taking place. Here are some of the major talking points from two intriguing ties:
Atletico return to type to frustrate Liverpool
Much has been said and written about Atletico Madrid’s struggles this season. However, Los Rojiblancos produced the sort of performance that they have become synonymous with during Diego Simeone’s reign to beat Liverpool 1-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano.
The home side took an early lead through a strike from midfielder Saul. In true Atletico style, they then made themselves difficult to break down, limited their opponent’s attempts on goal.
The team from the Spanish capital allowed Jurgen Klopp’s team to dominate possession, but for once the Reds failed to have the cutting edge to make a breakthrough. Much of that was down to Atletico’s stubborn defending. The performance may just work to keep Simeone’s doubters quite for a while. The Spaniard’s were big underdogs to make it into the last eight of the competition.
The win and clean sheet at least give them a fighting chance heading into the second leg at Anfield, which is sure to be much tougher. Los Rojiblancos may need to show more attacking intent, as Liverpool have scored in their last 27 home matches in all competitions.
Haaland continues his scoring run against PSG
After a goalless first-half at Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund recorded a 2-1 win over big-spending French team PSG. BVB wonderkid Erling Haaland grabbed a brace on his Champions League debut for the German club, taking his goal tally to 11 goals in just seven competitive appearances for his new club. No Bundesliga player has ever been so prolific after just 11 matches.
Incredibly, Haaland became the first player to score on his debut in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and the Champions League. The youngster just keeps breaking records and setting a new standard.
In fact, Haaland’s ten Champions League goals in just seven appearances mean he reached that particular milestone quicker than any other player.
His form has been sensational all-season, starting off in Austria with Salzburg before his January switch to the German giants. The scary thing for opposing defences as that the forward is only 19 and could still get even better. Any doubts about him making it at the top-level of football have been impressed by his crazy scoring numbers.
Atletico and Haaland still have difficult tasks
Despite successful Tuesday nights, both Atletico Madrid and Erling Haaland have difficult tasks on their hands to make the last eight of the Champions League.
Atletico are slight underdogs at odds of 19/20 to make it past Liverpool into the quarter-finals of the Champions League, despite a one-goal lead heading to Anfield for the second leg. The Reds are formidable opponents on their home patch and Los Rojiblancos will need all their defensive solidity and guile to progress in the competition.
Haaland’s Dortmund may be heading to Paris in a fortnight with a 2-1 lead. However, like Liverpool, PSG are formidable opponents on home soil, so BVB will be up against it, especially as Thomas Tuchel’s team have the advantage of an away goal.
The tie remains in the balance, but BVB will always create scoring chances. It would be silly to write-off the German teams’ chances of progressing. With Haaland in attack they will always have a chance of victory.
More fascinating ties on Wednesday
The last-16 ties continue Wednesday night, as Atalanta host Valencia and RB Leipzig visit Tottenham. The two ties could go either way, so whoever wins the first leg could have a major chance of progressing into the last eight.
The two games are bound to produce just as much drama and intrigue as Tuesday’s clashes. We will be back with the main talking points from both club’s tomorrow morning.
Can Atletico and Dortmund finish the jobs in the second legs of the last-16 of the Champions League?