Saturday, 16 February 2013

UEFA Champions League Review - Week 1 of Last 16:

Hello and welcome to my latest blog post, where I review and analyse 4 of the first-leg ties from the Last 16 in this season's UEFA Champions League. 


Tuesday:

Celtic 0 Juventus 3

This match was played in Scotland, as Celtic hosted a tough Italian side in the first leg of the Last 16 at Celtic Park. 

The hosts got off to a poor start, with Juventus breaking the deadlock within the first 3 minutes of the match thanks to striker Alessandro Matri's toe-poke into the bottom corner of the net past the defence. 

Celtic tried to get back into the match throughout the rest of the first half after trailing, but the Juventus defence held strong to end the first half 1-0. 

Juventus dominated possession in the second half, and there were a few mini-brawls at corners before the away side showed their quality once again in the 77th minute when midfielder Claudio Marchisio slotted the ball past goalkeeper Fraser Forster to double the lead. 


2 easy: Midfield maestro Claudio Marchisio places the ball past Fraser Forster to make it 2-0. 
If only: Claudio Marchisio celebrates spliting the Celtic defence... but it was not over yet.

The match was all but sealed before second striker Mirko Vucinic rubbed the salt into the Celtic wounds with a calm finish after Nigerian defender Efe Ambrose's mistake led to him having the ball for too long and he was taken advantage of and punished. 


Over: Vucinic takes advantage of a mistake by Efe Ambrose to slot the ball into the net for 3-0


Domination: Juventus are 90 minutes away from qualifying for the Last 8 of the CL.

FC Valencia 1 PSG 2

The other match in Tuesday's first-leg ties was played at the Mestalla as 5th placed Valencia (in their league, Liga BBVA) hosted 1st placed (in their league, Ligue 1) PSG.

First-half goals from winger Ezequiel Lavezzi and midfielder Javier Pastore sealed a 2-1 away win for PSG - despite conceding in the 90th minute thanks to defender Adil Rami, and their talisman striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic being sent off for an attempted stamp on Valencia midfielder Andres Guardado late on in the match. 


Ahead: Ezequiel Lavezzi celebrates his 10th goal of the season with team-mate Ibrahimovic. 
2-0 up: Pastore celebrates his 5th of the season with Ibrahimovic (no coincidence). 
Ruled out: Zlatan Ibrahimovic is now BANNED for the 2nd leg in Paris after his red card.

Wednesday:

Real Madrid 1 Manchester United 1

The clash of the titans. Two of the best clubs in the world, going head-to-head in the Last 16. Most awaited CL fixture...

Winger Cristiano Ronaldo versus his old club for the first time since his £80million pound move in 2009. 


Memories: Ronaldo played against his former club United for the first time on Wednesday.
Ronaldo won 9 trophies at United, including the Champions League in 2008. 
Real Madrid signed him for £80million pounds in 2009, and he has scored 183 goals in 180 apps.

The match was dominated by the hosts throughout the first half, with United sitting back and playing "Stoke" football at times, where they crossed the ball into the box, looking for Rooney, Welbeck or van Persie. 

The hosts were giving De Gea trouble back in his home country of Spain, with Ronaldo, Benzema and Di Maria all testing the United young keeper early on.

Against the run of play, England's young striker Danny Welbeck scored a header from a Wayne Rooney corner in the 20th minute - despite claims from thousands of United supporters that he should not have even been playing.


Heads I score: Danny Welbeck breaks the deadlock against Real Madrid after 20 mins.
Scoring duck over: Danny Welbeck celebrates his opener for United. 

FACT: That was Danny Welbeck's 1st goal in 17 matches for Manchester United.  

Real Madrid kept the pressure on United, and dominated for several periods after the goal.
They got their reward 9 minutes later, when Angel Di Maria's cross into the box was headed into the back of the net by (guess who?!) Cristiano Ronaldo superbly. 


Guess who? Ronaldo heads the ball past De Gea to equalise for the hosts at The Bernabeu
The first-half ended 1-1, with United the happier of the two sides having scored despite being dominated throughout.

The second half was more in United's favour, despite Real still pressing for a winning goal.

Robin van Persie had a golden chance to give the away side the lead with a half-volley from close range, but he did not connect with the ball properly and his shot was cleared off the line by defensive midfielder Xabi Alonso.


Mis-hit: Robin van Persie's half-volley towards goal was cleared off the line by Alonso. 

David De Gea (who has come under a lot of pressure and criticism lately) performed very well to deny Ronaldo and co the way he did. 
If it was not for him, Real would have thrashed the English side comfortably. 

Shakthar Donetsk 2 Borussia Dortmund 2

This match was played in Ukraine, as Group E runners-up Shakthar hosted Group D winners Dortmund at home.  

The hosts broke the deadlock in the 31st minute thanks to a well-struck free-kick by Darijo Srna.

Well-struck: Srna scores from a free-kick to give Shakthar the lead in the 31st minute

In-demand striker Robert Lewandowski equalised for Dortmund 10 minutes later with a cool slotted strike past the goalkeeper. 

Back of the net: Robert Lewandowski scores an equaliser in the 41st minute for Dortmund. 


Shakthar had thought they had the match under control in the second half when substitute Douglas Costa provided a wonderful strike past goalkeeper Weidenfeller. 

However, talented young defender Mats Hummels scored a crucial late equaliser for the German giants in the 87th minute to ensure that it is 2-2 going into the second leg tie in Germany. 

Shakthar will take heart from the fact that they played a good match and made Dortmund work very hard for the 2-2 draw because of the fact that they have not played competitively for a long time due to the winter break.
However, they will still feel disappointed because they conceded late on at home. They will now be the underdogs having conceded 2 away goals to a young, world class Dortmund team. 


Thank you for reading my EPL Blog today. I hope that you enjoyed my 2 posts today. Please help me, by spreading the word to people that you know who like or are interested in football (or soccer for my viewers in other continents) as I am hoping on having enough on my CV to one day become a football journalist in a newspaper as a part-time job.

I apologise that this post has not been published sooner, but I intend on making it up to all of my loyal viewers with a Double Upload tomorrow with the rest of the FA Cup 5th Round Matches and My Thoughts #3. I am now on half-term break from school, so I should be publishing a LOT next week, including the Champions League and EPL.. :)
Have a nice night, and I will speak to you all later!