“The Championsssssss” As the Champions League anthem rang around European stadiums this week, spectators were in for another treat. A Barcelona masterclass left the Manchester United board having to take a serious look at themselves. “The Sensationeel” was what the De Telegraaf in Holland stated after a young Ajax team caused another Champions League upset by beating one of the favourites in the competition, Juventus.
If you were limited for time, however, then 11 minutes would’ve been enough at the Etihad Stadium as Manchester City and Spurs scored four in that space of time. Porto’s European status meant their games with Liverpool were slightly overlooked, at least on paper, but Liverpool ran rampant over two-legs with a comfortable 6-1 aggregate score. Let’s take a quick look at those left.
Does anyone remember AS Monaco in 2016/17? This Ajax team is reminiscent of that side but they’ll hope to go one step further. An average age of 24 makes them the youngest side left in this competition. With the ability to produce some truly breathtaking football at times, this Ajax team is full of confidence. Let’s not forget this is the first time Ajax have reached the Semi-Finals since 96/97.
A brand of ‘Total Football’ has been on display throughout their journey this campaign, with slick passing and calmness in possession in all areas of the pitch. The narrative with this Ajax side makes them a team everyone want’s to do well. With the guaranteed departure of Frenkie De Jong and possibly a few more in the summer, this squad may not get this chance again. They will be determined to make it count.
When the spotlight shines on Lionel Messi, he very rarely fails to deliver. As such, Tuesday night against Manchester United was no different. Messi nutmegged the diminutive Fred after another Ashley Young mistake, and not soon after flashed a shot into the corner past David De Gea. Barcelona tormented United throughout the game despite a bright start from the away side, they now look a formidable side again.
At the beginning of the season, Messi stated: “We have some unfinished business, in the Champions League – more than anything”. Unfortunately, that spells trouble for Liverpool, and possibly anyone that awaits in the Final should they get there. Messi and Barcelona are on a mission and the treasure is the Champions League.
Liverpool reached back-to-back Champions League Semi-Finals, an incredible feat for any team, and the first English side to do so since Manchester United in 2008/09. This is clear evidence of the evolution and resilience of the squad under Jürgen Klopp. After a classy second leg performance at the Allianz last month, Liverpool continued their dominance in Europe by controlling Porto over two legs with minimal scares.
As of now, it’s difficult to find a weakness in this Liverpool side, and with every game, their confidence seems to grow. Following last seasons route to the Final, Liverpool’s experience in the competition will play an integral role if they are to get to consecutive Finals.
In the first 11 minutes, every 165 seconds there was a goal in the frantic game between Spurs and Manchester City. Those at Opta must’ve been busy as various statistical records were being broke, with this being the fastest four goals ever scored in a Champions League game. More importantly, though, this was a moment to remember and cherish for Tottenham fans. Their first European Semi-Final since 1962.
Without Harry Kane, questions might’ve been asked, but Son Heung-min, as so often does, thrives under added responsibility. Spurs rode their luck at times, but all the right decisions, with the help of VAR, were made in the end as they managed to scrape through on away goals. They face two incredibly difficult games against Ajax, but by knocking out City and now in their new stadium, Spurs have an opportunity to create history.