The second leg of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 knockout phase returns next week. The first leg of this season’s Champions League knockout phase provided us with some exciting matches. Some ties are all but decided while others are thinly poised. However, there will be some twists and turns as Europe’s best strive to advance to the quarter-finals.
After an exciting first leg at the Tottenham Stadium, Jose Mourinho and his Tottenham will be looking to overturn the 1-0 setback they suffered at home against RB Leipzig. It was a shocking result looking at the pedigree of Mourinho and what he has achieved in his coaching career, winning this competition twice with Porto and Inter Millan. Although Tottenham is without star striker Harry Kane and Son Heung- Min, Mourinho will be counting more on Lucas Moura to do the damage in Germany. In the first leg, German International Timo Werner scored the only goal of the game. RB Leipzig has been an exciting team to watch under fast-rising coach Julian Nagelsman. His team plays a hard running and counter-attacking brand of football. In comparison to Mourinho, Nagelsman is an inexperienced coach who is still learning on the job. However, he knows the tie is far from over.
Free-scoring Atalanta eased past Valencia 4-1 in the first leg in Italy. Their high pressing and all attacking football have made them one of the highest scorers in Europe. They are the first team to lose their opening three games and still manage to qualify for the round of 16. This is also the first time the team has reached this stage of the Champions League. Eliminating Valencia will be another record for them, reaching the last eight of this competition. From the way Atalanta is playing, they are the dark horses for the trophy this season. Valencia has had a rough season and is still struggling. The second leg is going to be a massive mountain for them to climb. They need three unanswered goals or more before they can qualify, which looks impossible. However, it is football, which is full of surprises. A miracle at the Mestalla Stadium could be on the horizon.
Dortmund got the better of Paris Saint-Germain, although the French side took a crucial away goal to Paris after their 2-1 loss. From the way both teams played, the second leg promises to be wide open and an intriguing tie of the round. Both sides are free-scoring and always score often. Looking at the front three of PSG in Neymar, Mbappe, and Icardi, it is very likely they can overturn the deficit, but the big question is, can they keep Dortmund’s Erling Halland and Jadon Sancho at bay? Haland is the hottest young striker on the planet earth at the moment.
The youngster has already scored ten goals in the Champions League, eight at RB Salzburg, and 2 for his current club. This tie is far from over with more goals excepted from this game looking at both teams’ firepower upfront.
Something odd happened when Atletico Madrid defeated the defending Champions at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium by a lone goal courtesy Saul Niguez. 90% of the football fans were tipping Liverpool to win the first leg, although they were playing away. Liverpool, of course, has been imperious domestically. A loss to Watford and draw with Man United have been the only blemish on their league form this season. Atletico Madrid seems to not be in great shape. Their season so far has been full of ups and downs. The Madrid-based club has struggled in La Liga this season. However, they have been a problematic opposition in the Champions League this season. Liverpool is tough to beat at home, and Diego Simeone and his boys know the enormous task ahead of them. This is the same Liverpool team that humiliated Barcelona last season by four goals to nil at the same Anfield Stadium, so that means the tie is far from over. Per the way Diego Simeone sets up his team, they are going to sit back and play on the counter-attack. Time will tell if Liverpool can overturn the deficit.
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