This week saw the first four ties of the Champions League Last 16 completed. I’m going to have a look back at the ties from this week. I’ll also have a look ahead to the rest of the competition. Next week will see me cover the next 4 ties.
Juventus vs Porto (4-4 on aggregate, Porto win on away goals)
This has definitely been the tie of the round so far. Juventus lost the first leg 2-1 and so needed to turn the tie on its head in the second leg. Things didn’t start well as Sergio Oliveira’s first-half penalty put the Portuguese side up at halftime.
Juve did fight back in the second half with Federico Chiesa scoring two to bring his side level on aggregate. Porto then had a man sent off after 54 minutes but impressively dug in to take the tie to extra time with the tie level 3-3 on aggregate.
The drama didn’t stop here, Oliveira’s second goal was a free-kick which gave Porto the advantage with five minutes to go. Juve did pull one goal back through Adrien Rabiot but it was not enough as the tie finish 4-4 with Porto going through on away goals. It was a heartbreaking way for Ronaldo and his team to drop out but it was an incredible game to watch. It means that for the second year in a row Juventus have surprisingly lost in the Last 16.
Last year they were dumped out by French side Lyon. It’s fair to say that they have not had the success they would have expected in the last few years.
Borussia Dortmund vs Sevilla (Dortmund win 5-4 on aggregate)
This was another close tie from which Dortmund eventually progressed from. Yet again, it was that man Erling Haaland who was the shining light for the German side. He scored two more goals which took his career Champions League goal tally to 20. In doing so, he set the record for the fewest matches needed to score 20 goals in the competition, only 14 games. This is 10 games fewer than the next best Harry Kane, who took 24. This yet again highlights the potential and high skill level of the Norwegian.
Sevilla did threaten to mount a late comeback with a 96th-minute penalty but it turned out to be a little bit too late. Dortmund held on and it means that the German side progress to the quarter-finals for the first time since the 2016-17 competition. With Haaland on their side, you can expect them to make a deep run this year.
PSG vs Barcelona (PSG win 5-2 on aggregate)
This appeared the most exciting tie of the round with two of the biggest clubs in world soccer facing off. However, after cruising to a 4-1 win in the first leg, PSG never looked like being challenged by this Barcelona side. Kylian Mbappe scored yet again to put the tie beyond doubt before Lionel Messi scored a quite remarkable strike from distance. The Argentinian followed this up with a missed penalty which could have given his side a flicker of hope. It wasn’t to be and Barcelona crashed out at the last 16 stages.
It could have been Messi’s final Champions League game for the Spanish giants as he’s out of contract this summer. Should he wish to take his talents elsewhere, it will be the end of the Champions League story for Messi at Barca. With Barcelona and Juventus both crashing out it means that for the first time since 2005, neither Messi nor Ronaldo will feature in the quarter-finals.
PSG continues their impressive recent form in the competition. Cruising past Barcelona follows on from their final appearance in last year’s Champions League. They look a dangerous side again this season. With Neymar Jr yet to return from injury they will be a handful for anyone in the quarter-finals.
Liverpool Vs RB Leipzig (Liverpool win 4-0 on aggregate):
Of the four last 16 ties so far, this was certainly the most straightforward. Liverpool won both legs 2-0 meaning a comfortable 4-0 aggregate win. Leipzig never really looked like they would challenge Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Liverpool has been in awful form in the Premier League recently. They have struggled to string any results together but the Champions League has been a different story. Both Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were on the scoresheet as they looked somewhere near their threatening best.
If they can continue this kind of form, Liverpool has a great chance to make a title run. If they were to reach the final this year it would make it three Champions League finals in the last four years. With the level of competition in European soccer, that would be a very special achievement.