Leicester do themselves (and England) proud
It was only fitting that Leicester went into the second leg against Atletico Madrid as the last English representative in this competition. Who better to represent the Premiership than the current champions? With that being said they always had an uphill task against more talented and more seasoned opponents – especially since they couldn’t get a crucial away goal. So when Saul Niguez planted an emphatic header from Filipe Luis’ cross halfway through the first half, it made a difficult mission practically impossible. But part of Leicester’s charm is that they don’t stop fighting. In the second half Shakespeare’s men took this fighting spirit and put Atletico’s players under pressure. They may have only gotten the one goal, but Jamie Vardy’s equalizer did not only give the home fans something to cheer but it meant that the Leicester players could exit the competition with their heads held high.
Marcelo is most definitely a Real Madrid legend
The previews of the quarter final between the German champions and the current holders of the Champions league brought the inevitable player comparisons. Lewandowski vs. Ronaldo. Robben vs. Bale. Kroos vs. Xabi Alonso. But this tie was also arguably a matchup between the world’s two best left backs. If there were any debates before Tuesday’s second leg as to who was the better left back between Alaba and Marcelo, after the game the answer seemed obvious. Marcelo delivered a vintage performance down his left wing and in so doing gave Philip Lahm constant headaches. His burst through the centre of Bayern Munich’s tired resistance in the second half of extra time to set up Ronaldo’s third goal summed his night up. This may have been a particularly great performance from the Brazilian, but Real Madrid fans would tell you that he has been performing at this level over the last ten years. His talismanic performances from left back are reminiscent of Real Madrid legend Roberto Carlos in his prime. He is most definitely a Real Madrid legend.
Monaco have a future world great on their hands
He’s already been compared to Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet, and Raul. At 18, Kylian Mbappé has burst onto the biggest stage of European football in truly astonishing fashion. With his opener against Dortmund in the second leg, the French teen made history by becoming the first player to score in their first four knockout games in the Champions League. When one considers that these goals came against European forces like Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund, then it becomes clear that this boy is the real deal. He has scored five goals in his last four Champions league games – same as Cristiano Ronaldo. His goals have been vital in getting Monaco to the semifinal stage for the first time in 13 years. With these impressive stats and his tender age there can be no question about it, Monaco will find it nigh on impossible to hang on to him for too long. The good news for the French club though is that when they decide to cash in, the money they’ll probably get could see them refurbish the whole squad.
There is nothing like Italian defending
Say what you want to about Barcelona being a spent force, past it or imbalanced. But the fact that Allegri, the Juventus manager, felt he had to throw on Barzagli for Dybala with only ten minutes to go tells you everything. Barcelona at the Nou Camp are no joke and as PSG learnt to their detriment a month ago, with enough inspiration, Barcelona can turn a three goal deficit in five minutes. But Juventus aren’t PSG and there wasn’t much likelihood that Enrique’s side would repeat their heroics against a more experienced side. Barcelona might have MSN but Juventus have their own special trident, BBC – Buffon (or Barzagli), Bonucci and Chiellini. In what was an impressive feat of resistance, these ‘old timers’ stood strong against all the Spanish hosts could muster. Credit must also go to the referee who simply refused to let the players control the game for him.
100 goals for Ronaldo
What more can be said about a player like Ronaldo? Not a lot – especially when it concerns his rivalry with Messi. In this week’s latest edition of the rivalry, Ronaldo’s hat-trick saw him reach the treasured milestone of a 100 Champions League goals. Not only is he the first player to break the three digit mark, but he did it before Messi (who is still on 94). So Messi broke Raul’s record and Ronaldo was the first to 100. Who knows how far these two will go before hanging up their boots? But if one thing is clear, they are setting records destined to last for a long, long time. Let’s enjoy them while we can.