With one day of quarterfinal matchups in the rearview mirror the final four picture is starting to become a little more clear. Yesterdays games promised to provide ample drama, and they did not disappoint.
Real Madrid came into yesterday’s second leg down 2-0 to the Wolfsburg. The young German squad led by Julian Draxler put on a technical display in the first leg ripping the heavily favored Madrid to the shock of any and all soccer fans. This first leg really turned the soccer community upside down, and going into yesterdays game Real needed a 2-0 win merely to force 30 minutes of extra time.
You could say Madrid came to play yesterday…. Led by Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo the team came in with a focus the likes of which we haven’t seen from Madrid this year. From the opening whistle it was evident this was going to be a much different game than the first leg in Germany. Real pinged the ball from left to right while providingconstant pressure on Diego Benaglio and the Wolfsburg defense. Madrid struck quickly on a magical through ball from Dani Carvahal that ended up on the foot of Ronaldo and subsequently in the back of the net. 15 minutes in Wolfsburg is still leads 2-1 on aggregate. Less than 2 minutes later, guess who? Ronaldo again, this time off a beautiful service from Toni Kroos. 2-2 on aggregate… Game on! After the second goal Wolfsburg seemed to settle down, controlling more of the ball and even producing a few good chances themselves. That said it felt like only a matter of time before Madrid gotthe crucial 3rd goal. Enter Cristiano Ronaldo. A poor challenge from Wolfsburg gained Madrid a free kick in a dangerous territory. Ronaldo stood in his patented stance over the sumptuous set piece 28 yards out, took a large exhalethen ripped a beauty through a tiny gap in the wall and into the right side of the net. The stadium erupted knowing they had punched their ticket to the semi-finals for the 3rd year in a row. This game marked only the 3rd time in Champion’s League history a team had overcome a 2-0 first leg deficit to advance to the next round. !Hala Madrid!
While history was unfolding in Madrid there was another pretty good game going on in Manchester England. Manchester City, the last EPL team in the field, put on a stellar performance in the first leg securing 2 crucial away goals against the Paris giants PSG allowing them to return to their fans with a 2-2 tie on aggregate.
Man City came out in a defensive technique looking to protect their slight advantage over the always deadly Zlatan Ibrahimovic and PSG. They quickly abandoned this formula for a more attacking style once play opened up. A missed penalty kick from Man City’s Sergio Aguero in the first 20 minutes gave PSG life in a battle between two evenly matched units. That said, PSG could not get organized going forward and it became obvious they were missing Blaise Matudi and David Luiz out there. PSG did muster a few good attempts on target but City keeper Joe Hart answered every question PSG’s attack asked. Then in the second half former Wolsburg star and 23 year old Kevin De Brunye ripped a curler pasted Kevin Trapp to all but ensure the victory. With more help from Hart, City was able to hold off the highflying PSG offense and reach the semi finals for the first time in club history.
With two of the final four now determined we watch with excitement to see who will join them. Barcelona and Bayern are the heavy favorites to advance on Wednesday but don’t tell that to Athletico or Benfica. Both games remain close and will be high drama. Tune in tomorrow for my recap of Wednesday’s action, and don’t forget to tune in on Fox Sports 1, 1:45CST.
Reformed ad agency guy. Sac Kings, PGA Tour, Pebble Beach, Aspen yielded fascination with sports business. Now teach at my alma mater, University of Texas Austin: Integrated Marketing, Social Media, Business and Law and Sports Audiences. 40 year streak of single digit handicap under severe pressure.
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