Champions League Review: Spurs crash out, Man City give youth a chance, Ronaldo's renaissance and more

It was a dramatic week in the Champions League
It was a dramatic week in the Champions League

Tottenham Hotspur were left shell-shocked, as Juventus gave them a valuable lesson at Wembley. Heung-Min Son looked to have secured Spurs progression when his mishit shot looped over a helpless Gianluigi Buffon.

However, two goals in less than three minutes from Juventus completely changed the complexion of the game. Spurs had dominated proceedings in a first half that saw Son and Harry Kane cause problems, although they were lucky not to concede a penalty when Jan Vertonghen went to ground with a challenge on Douglas Costa.

Mauricio Pochettino’s team had five shots on target in the opening 45 minutes, which was the highest that Juve had conceded in the last five years in the Champions League. Son’s goal before the break was his fifth in his last three games and his 16th in all competitions this season.

READ MORE: Spurs out of Europe as Juventus roar back

READ MORE: City through despite Basel defeat

Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala celebrate
Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala celebrate

Juve appeared to have little response, but then Gonzalo Higuain brilliantly flicked the ball past Hugo Lloris after it was initially headed on by Sami Khedira. The Argentine striker had passed a late fitness test after he missed the game with Lazio at the weekend.

The star of the Lazio match Paulo Dybala illustrated his clinical nature yet again when he added a second two minutes and 49 seconds later. It was Spurs’ first defeat in 18 games and a real blow given how they seemed to control both legs of the encounter.

Is this the end of Emery?

Under increasing pressure after Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League exit, Unai Emery was not thinking about his future.
Under increasing pressure after Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League exit, Unai Emery was not thinking about his future.

Unai Emery surprisingly kept his job last summer, even though Paris Saint-Germain lost out on the Ligue One title to Monaco and suffered the humiliation at the Camp Nou against Barcelona. The decision makers in the French capital are unlikely to be as forgiving this year, despite their almost guaranteed success domestically.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were meant to swing the pendulum back in PSG’s favour, but they limped out of the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid. They may have been without the aforementioned Brazilian and Zinedine Zidane’s side certainly know how to perform on the biggest stage, however, there was a lack of belief and conviction that hampered PSG’s performance.

The opening half hour was surprisingly cagey, with Madrid’s makeshift midfield struggling to exert their influence and PSG not as effective in wide areas. Sergio Ramos almost gave Madrid the lead when his side-footed volley from a cross off Marco Asensio was expertly saved by Alphonse Areola, as Marco Verratti then made an important block to deny Raphael Varane a guaranteed goal on the follow-up.

READ MORE: Real Madrid shatter PSG’s European dream

READ MORE: Liverpool safely through in Champions League

Keylor Navas was finally called into action just before the break when the goalkeeper had to make saves from Angel Di Maria and Mbappe. PSG’s fireworks did start after the internal, although it was only momentarily as the supporters let off a number of flares in the stands.

Cristiano Ronaldo headed in his 12th goal in eight games in the competition, after Asensio nutmegged Dani Alves with a pass and Lucas Vazquez provided the excellent cross. Emery’s task became even harder when midfielder Verratti disappointingly picked up a second caution.

PSG weren’t completely finished, as Javier Pastore’s header rebounded off the Madrid defence and onto the leg of Edinson Cavani to give them a fortunate goal with 20 minutes remaining. However, the tie was put beyond any doubt when Casemiro’s effort was deflected past Areola.

Liverpool showing defensive resilience

Jurgen Klopp has finally fixed Liverpool’s defensive errors as Loris Karius and co answer critics
Jurgen Klopp has finally fixed Liverpool’s defensive errors as Loris Karius and co answer critics

The encounter may have ended as a contest when Sadio Mane completed his hat-trick at the Estadio do Dragao three weeks ago, but there were still progressive steps from Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp rotated in the full-back area and gave Adam Lallana only his second start of the season.

Porto realistically knew that they were never going to turn the situation around and Sergio Conceicao made seven changes from the team that beat Sporting 2-1 last Friday. Iker Casillas started in goal for his 167th appearance in Europe’s premier competition, which is 16 more than any other player.

The 36-year-old could only watch as Mane hit the post with a third of the game gone, which turned out to be the best opportunity of the match. Liverpool looked assured in possession without the usual creativity, although this may help their game management in the future.

Majeed Waris provided Porto’s only shot on target in the second half, but Loris Karius was equal to it. The German goalkeeper appears to have turned a corner in his Liverpool career, although the test at Old Trafford on Saturday will give a greater evaluation of his progress.

Dejan Lovren had to make an important block to prevent former Atletico Madrid midfielder Olivier Torres from scoring late on. There’s an added confidence within the defence, which has now kept five clean sheets in their last seven matches.

Klopp switched to a back three in the last 10 minutes, as he had the luxury of being able to experiment and identify solutions for problems that will eventually arise. Liverpool reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in nine years.

Guardiola is moulding his young players

Manchester City have executed their manager Pep Guardiola’s philosophy this season with precision. The Catalan’s 18-month tenure has seen his players improve immensely in a technical and tactical sense.

Guardiola was also brought to the Etihad to develop their youngsters which has seen Raheem Sterling and Bernado Silva become prominent figures. However, both of these wide men played in title challenging teams for their former sides.

It’s the rawer Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus that have perhaps enhanced their capabilities the most. Sane was exceptional in the 2-1 defeat against Basel and it’s easy to forget the German winger is still only 22.

He shrugged off two challenges before playing in Bernado Silva, with the Portuguese attacker’s pass defying two defenders for Jesus to make a simple tap-in. It was Jesus’ first goal since the middle of November, with the 20-year-old missing the last two months through injury.

Mohamed Elyounoussi smashed in an equaliser in Basel’s first chance of the game against the run of play in the 24th minute and Micheal Lang gave the Swiss champions a surprise victory. However, Guardiola was able to give valuable experience to 18 year olds, Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz.


 

 

 

 

 

 

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