Veer Badani is a Premier League and UEFA Champions League contributor for Philly Football Daily. Badani is also the words behind PFD’s Manchester United column, Red Devil’s Advocate.
Your UEFA Champions League Roundup for the Quarter-Finals, courtesy of Philly Football Daily’s Premier League and Champions League contributor Veer Badani.
What more can be said about the Quarter-Finals of this year’s UEFA Champions League?
Was it a penalty? You all know which one I am referring to.
Mohammed Salah: the best player in the world, at the moment? Something tells me fellow writers Cal Dymowski and Noah Barnes will agree with me, and if you watch this, you probably will, too.
Was AS Roma’s comeback better than FC Barcelona’s the round before against Paris Saint Germain?
Pep Guardiola: is the Spaniard really nothing more than a bald fraud, as everyone outside the blue half of Manchester continues to insist?
All these questions, and many, many more, were the talk of football social media last week. Now, this week, the talk is regarding the highly-anticipated Semi-Finals matches, which are now set.
Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich are set to take on Spanish super-club Real Madrid, while explosive Liverpool are due to take on Roma in a homecoming for the Egyptian King of the Merseyside, Mohammed Salah.
Before we shift gears to the Semi-Finals, let’s revisit what happened in the round before, shall we?
Champions League Rout of the English Champions
Liverpool were no match for recently crowned Premier League champions Manchester City in the first-leg of the English Quarter-Final match at Anfield, with the Reds running riot and going three-nil up inside 30 minutes.
City looked much more dangerous in the second-leg, undoubtedly due to their home advantage.
Brazilian international Gabriel Jesus scored inside 3 minutes to give the Citizens hope. However, Klopp’s tactics, which are effectively summed up by letting Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane do their thing, was enough to send Liverpool into the semi-finals for the first time in over a decade.
Liverpool advanced with a 2-1 victory in the match and 5-1 on aggregate in the tie.
Kostas Completes the Comeback
AS Roma were pitted against a seemingly invincible Barcelona in the Quarter-Final, and were sent packing their travel bags for Rome after being defeated 4-1 at the Camp Nou in the first-leg. It was as if the Romans never got off the plane in Catalonia.
However, the second-leg at the historic Stadio Olimpico boded much better for the Italians, with Roma winning 3-0, and advancing to the Semi-Finals 4-4 on aggregate and away goals.
Kostas Manolas was (rightfully) christened with the nickname of “Greek God of Rome” by legendary football commentator Peter Drury after scoring the all-important third goal for Roma in the 82nd minute.
Boring, Boring Bayern
Bayern Munich had the most uneventful passage into the Semi-Finals, advancing 2-1 on aggregate with all 3 goals of the tie coming in the first-leg at Sevilla. Bayern held firm, securing their place in the Semi-Finals with a scoreless finish the second-leg.
Botched Call at the Bernabéu?
Perhaps the tie of the tournament, there was no shortage of animosity and controversy between the Old Lady of Turin Juventus and the defending champions Real Madrid.
Many suggested the tie was over after the first-leg in Turin, which saw Real leave Italy with three away goals without reply.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace in the first match, including this worldy, while Argentinian superstar Paulo Dybala was sent-off for Juventus, ensuring that the striker would miss out on the second fixture.
In the second-leg, at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Juventus clawed their way back in astonishing fashion.
Juve jumped out to a 3-0 lead with an early brace from Croatian forward Mario Mandzukic and a scrappy goal from Blaise Matuidi, which cancelled out Madrid’s 3-0 lead on the hour mark.
With the match looking destined for extra-time and potentially penalties, Real Madrid were awarded a controversial penalty at the end of added time.
English referee Michael Oliver was then hounded by Juve players. Oliver was perhaps, berated most aggressively by Juve’s captain and legendary Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who was sent off for his reactions.
It was an unceremonious ending to both the Italian great’s UEFA Champions League career and his club’s run in this year’s competition.
After a long halt in play, with 97 minutes up on the board, Cristiano Ronaldo blasted the ball past former Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczęsny to end a remarkable journey and fire Real Madrid into the Semi-Finals 4-3 on aggregate.
UEFA Champions League returns next week when the Semi-Finals get underway. Liverpool will play host to Roma on April 24 while Bayern will welcome Ronaldo and Co. to the Allianz Arena on April 25. Return fixtures will take place on May 1 and May 2.
Can Liverpool overcome giant killers Roma and achieve the unthinkable?
Will Madrid be on their way to a third consecutive Champions League triumph?
Only time will tell. Cheers.
Follow and connect with Veer on Twitter. He’ll be bringing more great Premier and Champion’s League content to Philly Football Daily soon.