The favourites and the reigning European champions, Barcelona, are knocked out the Champions League. Barcelona’s season is unraveling as they have now lost three and drawn one of their last five games in this business end of the campaign.
Barcelona lost 2 – 0 against Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their quarter-final tie at Vicente Calderon. Atleti’s hitman Antoine Greizmann opened the scoring in the 36th minute. The goal allowed the hosts to have an upper hand despite the 2 – 2 aggregate score. Fernando Torres’ away goal at Camp Nou was the difference between the two Spanish sides. A lot of drama unfolded during the ninety minutes, but Diego Simeone’s men sealed the victory in the dying minutes of the match.
Felipe Luis was one of Atletico Madrid’s best performers of the night and his surging run in the 87th minute allowed Atletico to bag the second goal of the night. Andres Iniesta was at fault as he obstructed the ball with his hands in the penalty box. The legendary Spaniard didn’t receive his marching orders despite a blatant foul to stop a goal scoring opportunity. However, Atletico were awarded a penalty, and Greizmann made no mistake in slotting the ball past Ter Stegen.
The match referee made one more controversial decision on the other end of the pitch. Barca were denied a penalty when Gabi handled the ball just inside the area. The treble winners had to satisfy themselves with a free-kick right outside the box.
For the first time in his playing career, Lionel Messi has failed to score or assist a goal in five consecutive games, which by his own standards is a very big slump. The diminutive Argentine failed to register a shot on target while his fellow attackers, Suarez and Neymar, cut a frustrated figure in the 2 – 0 loss.
Here’s a fun fact. Diego Simeone has just won 2 out of 17 games against Barcelona as Atlético Madrid manager, but both times it was to knock Barcelona out of the Champions League. Prior to this win, they defeated the Spanish champions in the quarter-final of the 2013 – 2014 Champions League and they went on to the final in Lisbon.
Paris Saint Germain were knocked out of the Champions League at the hands of Manchester City. Manchester City defeated Laurent Blanc’s men 1 – 0 courtesy of a goal by Kevin de Bruyne. Interestingly, all the Champions League ties at this quarter-final stage have ended with an aggregate score 3 – 2.
Pellegrini’s Manchester City have created history by qualifying for their first ever semi-finals. By beating the French champions, the Citizens have proved that they can compete against the world class teams, and it will be interesting to see who they will play in the next round. The draw for the Champions League semi-finals is scheduled for Friday, April 15th.
Five players from Atletico Madrid, three from Manchester City and three from Real Madrid have made it into the UEFA Champions League Team of the Week. Here’s this week’s XI: Joe Hart, Felipe Luis, Godin, Otamendi, Carvajal, De Bruyne, Casemiro, Vidal, Niguez, Greizman and last but not the least – Cristiano Ronaldo.