No miracle Barcelona 0-0 Juventus

Barcelona 0-0 Juventus (0-3 agg): Catalans crash out as Messi and co misfire at Nou Camp – 5 things we learned

Lightning didn’t strike twice.

This time Barcelona did leave themselves with far too much to do as composed an away performance you could wish to see in the Champions League to make the semi-finals.

On a night Barca needed everything he touched to turn to gold, Lionel Messi fired off target with the hosts best two chances either side of half-time.

Juventus always threatened the away goal that would have made the highly improbable impossible through the pace of Juan Cuadrado on the counter-attack.

In the end, though, their 3-0 first leg lead was more than enough as they registered an eighth clean sheet in 10 Champions League games this season.

Here are five things we learned…

ps, With a Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers

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Bayern Munich 1-2 Real Madrid

REAL DEFEAT BAYERN

Cristiano Ronaldo overturned Arturo Vidal’s header as Real Madrid won 2-1 at Bayern Munich, who had Javi Martinez sent off.

A second-half double from Cristiano Ronaldo secured a 2-1 win for Real Madrid against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena and a firm advantage in their Champions League quarter-final tie.

The Portugal captain struck two minutes after the break to cancel out Arturo Vidal’s bullet header before poking home a second to give the holders a strong result to take back to the Santiago Bernabeu for the return fixture.

Bayern had been good value for their lead but Vidal’s missed penalty allowed Madrid to get back into the match, before a red card for Javi Martinez left the Bundesliga leaders facing a battle to ensure they stayed in the tie.

The first half belonged to the home side and Vidal in particular, the midfielder scoring with one emphatic header, missing a clear chance for a second and blazing a controversial spot-kick over the crossbar.

Madrid responded through Ronaldo’s first goal in the tournament since September 27 and Martinez’s two quick-fire yellow cards gave them a foothold they never looked likely to relinquish, before Ronaldo’s second 13 minutes from time sealed the win – his 100th goal in European competition.

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Juventus 3-0 Barcelona: Turin giants stun Barca

Barcelona need another Nou Camp miracle if they are to reach the Champions League semi-finals after a crushing 3-0 loss to Juventus in Turin.

Paulo Dybala struck twice in a stunning first half and Giorgio Chiellini added a rare third after the break as the hosts claimed a commanding advantage ahead of next week’s second leg.

Dismal Barcelona’s only hope is to repeat their feat of the previous round, when they recovered from a 4-0 first-leg loss to Paris St Germain by beating the French side 6-1 at home.

But on the evidence of Tuesday night a second comeback looks highly unlikely after Juventus dominated proceedings with the help of Dybala’s brilliant first-half brace.

The home side hared out from the first whistle and had their first chance after less than three minutes when Gonzalo Higuain wasted a good chance in front of Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Luis Enrique’s men, smarting from a domestic defeat to Malaga at the weekend, looked clueless over how to deal with their opponents’ attacking threat and they fell behind with just seven minutes on the clock.

The superb Juan Cuadrado found Dybala on the right side of the box and the striker curled an excellent left-foot shot past the helpless keeper.

Barcelona responded well and could have grabbed an equaliser after 20 minutes when Lionel Messi threaded the ball to Andres Iniesta whose low shot was well saved by Gianluigi Buffon.

Moments later, Juventus surged down the left flank and Mario Mandzukic crossed for the unmarked Dybala, who fired his second of the game past ter Stegen to put the Italians 2-0 up.

Messi had an effort ruled out for offside on the half-hour before Juventus came close to increasing their lead when Cuadrado pulled back for Miralem Pjanic who blazed over the bar.

Barcelona started the second half in much better fashion with Messi rolling an effort inches wide of the upright and Buffon just beating Luis Suarez to an Ivan Rakitic through-ball.

Higuain rolled a weak effort at ter Stegen before Chiellini made it 3-0 after 55 minutes, out-jumping Javier Mascherano to head home only the second Champions League goal of his career.

Knowing a precious away goal could still help turn the tie in their favour, Barcelona began to press with Suarez trickling a fine chance wide then Neymar seeing an effort blocked by the busy Chiellini in the box.

Barcelona’s mis-firing mega-stars endured more frustration in the final quarter of an hour, Suarez mis-controlling after a pass across the six-yard box by Neymar, then Messi mis-judging a fine chance from a corner.

Marshalled by a towering performance by Brazilian Alex Santos, the Juventus defence held out and Messi’s last chance to reduce the deficit came to an end when he spun a free-kick into the Italians’ wall.

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Ibrahimovic inspiration keeps Man United in top-four race

After 30 minutes of Sunday’s Premier League game against Sunderland, Manchester United appeared in danger of meandering its way to another disappointing result.

Thankfully for manager Jose Mourinho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic had other ideas.

The Swedish forward demanded the ball be played to him on the edge of the penalty area, and then evaded the attempts of two Sunderland defenders to halt his progress before sending an unstoppable strike into the far bottom corner.

“You need these players sometimes to make it and normally every top team has a couple of them that can make a difference. Zlatan did that with the goal,” Mourinho said.

After Ibrahimovic’s moment of inspiration, the result was never in doubt and a red card for Sebastian Larsson left space for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and substitute Marcus Rashford to seal the points for United.

With the league’s top four all having won on Saturday, the victory ensured United kept pace in the race for Champions League qualification as it moved above Arsenal into fifth and within four points of fourth-place Manchester City, which has played one more game.

Sunderland remains bottom having now failed to score in its last seven games, 10 points adrift of safety.

“We reacted to the results of yesterday,” Mourinho said. “We got the three points, [with a] solid performance against a team that is sad. When you play against a team that is sad, if you score before [them], the game is almost over because it is difficult to react.”

“After Liverpool and Manchester City’s victories, if we didn’t win today it’s almost mathematically impossible [to finish fourth].”

Unlike its rivals, United can still qualify for next season’s Champions League by winning the Europa League. It resumes its campaign with a quarterfinal first leg in Belgium against Anderlecht on Thursday.

Source – TheJakataPost

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Monaco hurts Man City

Manchester City’s defensive frailties cost them as they crashed out of the Champions League with a 3-1 defeat at Monaco.

Manager Pep Guardiola named an attacking line-up for the second leg of the last-16 tie but that backfired as Monaco overturned a 5-3 deficit to win on away goals after a 6-6 aggregate draw.

First-half goals from Kylian Mbappe and Fabinho put the Ligue 1 leaders ahead and although Leroy Sane hit back for City, Tiemoue Bakayoko sealed victory with a header 13 minutes from time.

City were lacklustre on the night and Monaco made light of the absence of Radamel Falcao, scorer of two goals in the pulsating first leg, with a hip injury.

Guardiola perhaps got his selection wrong by naming the in-form Yaya Toure on the bench. With Fernandinho the only specialist central midfielder on the field, City were unable to make any impression in that area and Monaco came at them in waves.

That early pressure was quickly rewarded as Mbappe, who had already forced Willy Caballero to make one save, opened the scoring in the eighth minute. City’s defence were cut open as Benjamin Mendy drove in a ball from the left and Mbappe turned in with ruthless efficiency.

Mbappe thought he had claimed a second soon after but his powerful low strike was ruled out for offside.

City struggled to gain possession, made little use of the ball they did get and failed to repel Monaco’s continual raids.

It came as no surprise when they struck again to level the tie just before the half-hour mark. Mbappe again cut the defence open on the left before Mendy crossed and Fabinho made no mistake with a first-time finish.

City’s attacks were few and far between and those they did piece together fizzled out before they reached the box.

It was not until the second half that they started to assert themselves in any way and finally get the previously isolated Sergio Aguero into the game.

Seemingly out of nowhere, a hat-trick of chances came the Argentinian’s way in quick succession but he was unable to take any of them.

He could not be blamed the for the first as Andrea Raggi produced a superb challenge to pinch the ball from his toes as he lined up a shot from Raheem Sterling’s pull-back.

But the striker blazed over moments later following a lightning break by Sane and he was denied by a fine save from Danijel Subasic after smart turn by David Silva.

It did seem, however, that the tide had turned and Monaco were maybe starting to feel the pace after such a high-energy start.

Sane took advantage to put City back ahead on aggregate when he pounced from close range after Subasic palmed out a shot from Sterling with 71 minutes gone.

Yet that good work was quickly undone when poor set-piece marking allowed Bakayoko to thump home a header from a Thomas Lemar free-kick.

City’s hopes drained away and the Stade Louis II, a venue not renowned for its atmosphere, was rocking as the final whistle sounded.

Source – Football365

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Reborn Leicester City defeat Sevilla

Up went the ball, into the night sky, and there it seemed to hang: spinning, swirling, planning, plotting. Down below, Pablo Sarabia swirled underneath it, gauging its trajectory, unsure whether he wanted it to land or not. Out of the corner of his eye, he would have seen Marc Albrighton and Wilfried Ndidi chasing him down like hungry hounds. Sarabia leapt, and so did they.

A dull thud of shoulders. The ball bounced out for a throw. Leicester v Sevilla was eight seconds old.

There is a sort of dark magic to the long ball, football’s oldest tactic yet perhaps one of its least understood. You might even call it beauty: the fanciful optimism of relinquishing the ball at your feet and casting it to the skies, to the winds, to gravity, to randomness, to chaos. You play the long ball when you want to entrust yourself to fate. You play it if you are feeling lucky.

Most football teams see chance as their enemy: the enemy of certainty, the enemy of control, the enemy of all those thousands of hours spent pausing and rewinding scouting videos, scrawling on chalkboards, training and drilling.

Not Leicester. They do all that stuff, too, of course, but crucially they also know what you cannot control. This is hardly surprising. When your 5000-1 title shot has come in, then you are probably inclined to believe chance is your friend. When the opposition are palpably better than you – with all due respect to your Danny Simpsons and Robert Huths – then chance is the leveller. When allied with a greasy pitch, a partisan crowd and an unshakeable belief, then chance is your best chance.

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Borussia Dortmund 4-0 Benfica

Borussia Dortmund are into the Champions League quarter-finals, after beating Benfica 4-0 in their second round second leg to overturn a first leg deficit.

The German side took just four minutes to wipe out their first leg loss, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang heading home from close range after Christian Pulisic had flicked on Ousmane Dembele’s corner kick.

 Benfica came back into the game, but two quick-fire goals early in the second half, first from Pulisic, the American teenager, then Aubameyang, put the tie beyond doubt.

That pair combined again for the fourth, Aubameyang turning home from close range for the third time after Pulisic’s low cross.

But who really impressed? And who flopped? Player Ratings from the Westfalenstadion…

Barcelona creates football miracle

Football may witness the most entertaining game ever as Barcelona welcome Paris Saint-German (PSG) to the Nou Camp on Wednesday for the second leg of the UEFA Champions League round-of-16 showdown. 

The Catalan have a four-goal deficit to overturn from the first leg, a feat that has never been achieved by any team in the history of the competition.

However, if there is a team that can achieve the impossible its Barcelona, especially, with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar in their fold.

The MSN can create football’s biggest miracle on a night the attention of the global football audience will be glued to the 22 players on the pitch inside a supercharged atmosphere.

Valentine Blues

Barcelona defeated Alaves 6-0 away from home in La Liga before the Champions League game against Paris Saint-German where they were tagged favourites.

But they were shocked by a smooth PSG side on Valentine’s Day and Luis Enrique’s men were handed one of their biggest defeats in the first leg of a two-legged tie.

Angel di Maria grabbed a brace while Edinson Cavani and Julian Draxler added the other in a comprehensive 4-0 drubbing. The win came with relative ease as the French champions outplayed Barcelona and the scoreline could’ve been worst.

MSN on a mission

On normal circumstances, it is game over after a 4-0 first leg win but with Messi, Suarez, and Neymar in their monstrous best, football fans across the globe can expect a miracle performed by these three wise men.

“There is a dispute to settle. We will do everything to show another image and show people the real Barcelona,” Suarez told France Football.

“It will be difficult to reverse the situation, but not impossible. If a team can overcome such a score, it is Barca. We have the qualities and the character to get out of this complicated situation.”

Barcelona have won all four fixtures after that grueling defeat against PSG, scoring 15 goals and conceding just four in the process with the MSN responsible for nine of the goals.

The huge plus for out-going Enrique going into this fixture is the return to form of the trio but more importantly Messi and he showed just why he has picked up five Ballon D’Or titles with a brilliant solo goal in the 5-0 win against Celta Vigo at the weekend.

Match verdict

Paris Saint-German are a fantastic side and Cavani seems to have rediscovered his best form since Zlatan Ibrahimovic left for Manchester United.

The addition of Julian Draxler has helped bring out the best in Di Maria while Marco Verratti is an absolute gem in the holding midfield role.

Nevertheless, it won’t be an easy game for the French champions as Barcelona will come at them with everything in their arsenal and getting an early goal could open the game to a wonderful spectacle. But a PSG goal will kill off Barcelona’s drive. The game is for Paris SaSaint-Germano lose now but with the MSN on their game, never rule the Spanish champions out.

Bayern beats Arsenal again

With a second 5-1 rout in three weeks, Bayern Munich completed Arsenal’s humiliation on a night of protests against manager Arsene Wenger.

Whether Wenger gets a chance to return to the Champions League next season remains unclear, as his latest contract will expire at the end of this season after 21 years at the club.

His team’s heaviest-ever loss at the Emirates Stadium, completing a 10-2 aggregate loss on Tuesday as the German champions reached the quarterfinals, will only heighten demands by pockets of supporters for Wenger to go.

Asked if he will manage Arsenal again in the Champions League, Wenger replied: “I don’t know … I am here to talk about football not my future.”

It is Wenger’s failure to deliver Arsenal’s first European Cup that has diminished his standing among fans who once lauded him as a coaching revolutionary.

For the seventh consecutive season, Arsenal has exited the Champions League in the Round of 16 and it has still only reached the final once, back in 2006.

Wenger deflected questions about his own future by reprimanding Tuesday’s referee for what the Frenchman called “unexplainable and scandalous” decisions.

And there was no sympathy from Bayern, with the five-time European champions joining in the derision by tweeting: “What time is it? Yep, it’s ten to!”