UEFA Champions League: What We’ve Learnt From This Week’s Round of 16 Games

We have the first four of the eight Champions League quarterfinalists, as Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain all booked their place in the final eight after their respective second leg ties this week.

There were no major upsets in this quartet of last 16 encounters, but the contests certainly gave us food for thought as we edge ever closer to the final in Lisbon on Saturday 25 May.

On Tuesday the holders Bayern Munich drew 1-1 with Arsenal on their own patch to progress 3-1 on aggregate. Elsewhere Atletico Madrid moved into the next round with an almighty flourish, disposing of an erratic AC Milan side 4-1 on the night and 5-1 over the two legs.

Wednesday saw Barcelona finish the job against Manchester City in the Nou Camp with a 2-1 win. Meanwhile PSG had no hiccups against Bayer Leverkusen as they came from behind to win 2-1 on the night against the Germans; the French champions progressed 6-1 on aggregate.

Here’s some takeaways from this week’s four ties…


Atletico Madrid A Team To Avoid In Quarterfinals

We’ve already made the point in this feature that it might be a little unfair to dub Diego Simeone’s side as “dark horses” for this title. They may be lacking in the big, illustrious names, and yes, they don’t have the experience of some of Europe’s premier sides.But they continue to motor on.

In this double header with Milan they’ve showed that they are capable of digging in an getting a result on the road and In addition, an attacking vigour that allows them to blitz the opposition with their relentless, intense playing style. In Diego Costa, they also have one of Europe’s hottest forwards and a player capable of nicking a goal anywhere.

Los Concheros have competed with Real Madrid and FC Barcelona for the entirety of the domestic campaign, so why should we expect them to do any less in the Champions League? Their stylistic principles are quite unique when compared to the remainder of the teams left in this competition and Simeone’s charges are quickly becoming a side to avoid in the last eight.


Bayern Munich Show Tiny Chinks In Armour

It’s admittedly difficult to take much from a contest in which Bayern Munich failed to get out of first gear for long spells. But you could argue in the second-leg draw with Arsenal, they showed a miniscule chink in their armour for the second time in this season’s competition.

With the job seemingly done after their 2-0 win over the Gunners at the Emirates in the first-leg, Bayern ambled through this game. And it must be said that whilst the European Champions did create and subsequently spurn a host of chances, Arsenal did cause them a few problems.

After levelling at 1-1, the Gunners had a few opportunities to go on and get a second. It was a scenario not overly dissimilar to Manchester City’s win at the Allianz Arena, another game in which Bayern switched off after storming into the lead. City were able to take their chances in that 3-2 triumph, Arsenal were not this time round.

But this complacency is something Pep Guardiola will be hoping doesn’t remerge as we get into the latter stages of the competition. You suspect that given the focus this side showcased in last seasons Champions League, that’ll certainly be the case from the quarterfinals and most probably beyond.


Barca Must Improve To Win Fifth European Crown, But They Still Have Magic Messi

They got the job done in the end, but Barcelona were far from convincing against Manchester City for long spells. La Blaugrana continued to show defensive frailties throughout the second leg at the Camp Nou and that will be a concern as the quality of opposition will be cranked up a notch in the quarterfinals.

It took a couple of excellent saves from Victor Valdes and some last ditch defending from Gerard Pique to keep City down to the solitary strike in this one. Barcelona looked leggy in the second half and occasionally seemed unable to match the dynamism of their opponents. They must find their rhythm and reestablish their patented groove if they are to go any further in the competition.

But, they do have Lionel Messi, who was undoubtedly Barcelona’s most potent attacking threat throughout the two games with City. In the second leg little Argentinian scored, hit the post with a wonderful solo effort, and his movement and dribbling caused the City back four endless problems throughout the 90 minutes.

You suspect if Barca are going to go all the way to the final this season, then it’ll be down to spades of Messi magic.


PSG Show It’s Not All About Zlatan

Think of the French champions and the mercurial Swede immediately springs to mind. But after seeing off Leverkusen in the second leg their last 16 time, there were plenty of other standout performances from the Parisians.

After going 1-0 down early on, they rallied strongly to equalise through the young defender Marquinhos. Then Leverkusen had a penalty saved by the somewhat under-appreciated Salvatore Sirigu. Ezequiel Lavezzi scored the goal to put PSG 2-1 up, whilst Yohan Cabaye, Lucas Digne and Thiago Silva also had typically excellent games.

They look in great shape to challenge for this title and with Ibrahimovic capable of conjuring up magical moments, I still have a feeling that they’ll be in that Champions League in May.


Arsenal and Manchester City Will Be Stronger Next Year, Milan Set For European Hiatus

You couldn’t have asked for two more difficult draws for Arsenal and Manchester City. But a look at their European campaigns as a whole suggest that they might fare a little better next time round.

Both sides came through tough qualifying groups to make it to the last 16 but ultimately paid the price for not finishing top of them. But with both Arsenal and City putting in some superb performances in this years competition–most notably their respective victories away at Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich–hopefully lessons will be learnt and they’ll reap the benefits in 12 months time. Providing that they both qualify, of course!

One side that definitely won’t be in the Champions League next season is AC Milan. They crashed out to Atletico in the last 16 and are way off the pace on the domestic front. It’s a shame given their rich European pedigree, but Clarence Seedorf has a big, big rebuilding job on his hands at the Rossoneri.


Be sure to check out our team-by-team guide of every side in the last 16 ahead of the second batch of second legs here.

What did you think of this week’s games in the Champions League? Let us know in the comments section or get in touch with me on Twitter @MattJFootball.

11 thoughts on “UEFA Champions League: What We’ve Learnt From This Week’s Round of 16 Games”

  1. “Arsenal and Manchester City Will Be Stronger Next Year”

    Not if they continue to indulge in finding excuses and blaming referees

    1. Did you even watch either match? Part of commenting is to at least pretend to know what you are talking about.

      Your comment suggests that the refs called a competent match and did their job. Please, Georgie. Supporter or hater of either club can see the refs were absolutly awful.

      1. Wenger decided to focus on diving and Pellegrini on biased officiating. I guess that is the way they see their teams improving in CL next year. What is your plan?

      2. Yeah the refs were awful for both Barca and City so they cannot blame the ref for losing and Arsenal cannot blame the ref either as the peno in the first game was a definite peno and sending off and last night Podolski fouled Lahm for his goal.. This Mourinho tactic of blaming the ref when the ref didnt favour anyone is pathetic and Pelligrini and Wenger shouldnt go down that route

  2. I thought City was bigger than United now Manuel? At least make it to the quarter final with your star studded squad mate. Doesn’t seem like you guys will be winning the league with Jose putting a strangle hold onthe title right now but hey you can’t win em all.
    But on the bright side your assault on United’s league cup record has us quaking in our boots. I wish we won the mickey mouse cup.

    1. Ya you do wish you had won any cup. Manuel said the City is bigger than United this year alone. Try to argue with that. Have fun in the Europa League next year, if you can even qualify…

      1. It’s funny because City won’t win the competition next year. We make more money than City, sell more shirts, and have a greater respect in European football than City.
        I take it you haven’t seen Dani Alves’s comments about Man city compared to United. He said that he didn’t know there were two clubs in Manchester until a few years ago. He said even based on this season he would choose United over City. That’s a top player saying this. Face it you’ll always be second best.

        1. i’m completely biased here but how can you put any credence into what dani alves says when he readily admits he didn’t know anything about city until a few years ago?

          thats like someone saying “well i’ve never even heard of oranges before, but i definitely like apples better” …and then you come and say “yea i back him up cuz he’s a top fruit vendor”

  3. I learned that Fox has ruined this competition for me. I just can’t be bothered with the Champions league.

    1. Fox’s soccer coverage is just disgraceful and sickening. I won’t watch their soccer coverage out of principle.

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