Soccer

UEFA Champions League: Huge Upsets Begin The Round Of 16

BERGAMO, ITALY - FEBRUARY 24: Rafael Toloi of Atalanta runs in the field during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between Atalanta and Real Madrid at Gewiss Stadium on February 24, 2021 in Bergamo, Italy.
Ricardo Nogueira/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg has wrapped up, and there’s been a few shockers, to say the least. With Barcelona and Juventus losing their first game, the big question is, will Messi and Ronaldo make it to the next round?

Here’s a recap of the round’s games:

Barcelona vs. PSG (1-4)

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 16: Ousmane Dembele of FC Barcelona looks on during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain at Camp Nou on February 16, 2021 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona’s current form is the worst they’ve been in a long time. Firstly, they lost consecutive UEFA Champions League matches for the first time in club history (326 games). In addition to that, they’ve only lost by a 3+ goal margin six times in all those games.

The game started well for them. They even took a first-half lead through a questionable penalty. However, Kylian Mbappé, who was sensational in this game, equalized within five minutes. The PSG star went on to demolish Barcelona in the second half. He scored a hat-trick, and Moise Kean grabbed another goal as PSG won 4-1.

Barcelona has been here before and even managed to make a famous comeback against the club in the 2017 tie. However, the team was more talented that year, and the chances of Déjà vu look bleak. With Neymar and Ángel Di María returning for the next game, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to do it again.

RB Leipzig vs. Liverpool (0-2)

Liverpool's Scottish defender Andrew Robertson plays the ball during UEFA Champions League round of 16, first leg football match between RB Leipzig and FC Liverpool in Puskas Arena of Budapest on February 16, 2021. (Photo by ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP) (Photo by ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images)
ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images

Liverpool took a break from their poor home form to grab two vital away goals at Leipzig. The hosts played well in the first half, almost breaking down Liverpool’s defense a couple of times.

However, Leipzig started the second half poorly at the back. Two sloppy mistakes cost them the game as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane score twice within five minutes. Although Leipzig pressed to tie the game up, Liverpool’s defense held up for the rest of the game.

The second leg here is unpredictable. With Jordan Henderson injured, Liverpool has likely lost another player for the second leg. However, they managed to get two away goals, so a good defensive performance should get them to the next round.

Porto vs. Juventus (2-1)

PORTO, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 17:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus looks on during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between FC Porto and Juventus at Estadio do Dragao on February 17, 2021 in Porto, Portugal. Sporting stadiums around Portugal remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

This was a classic UEFA Champions League upset. Porto struck early in the first half, scoring within two minutes. They defended well for the rest of the half while still looking dangerous on offense. The second half started even worse for Juventus as Porto struck within one minute of the game resuming, putting them up 2-0.

Juventus were, however, able to pull back an important away goal as Federico Chiesa scored towards the end of the game. This should make getting to the next round easier for Juventus. They’ve played well at home this season and should be able to score at least a goal and defend well. Ronaldo is notorious for making Champions League comebacks, so counting Juventus out isn’t a good idea.

Sevilla vs. Dortmund (2-3)

TOPSHOT - Dortmund's Norwegian forward Erling Braut Haaland (R) challenges Sevilla's French defender Jules Kounde during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between Sevilla FC and Borussia Dortmund at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville on February 17, 2021. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP) (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images)
CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images

The game started poorly for Dortmund as they conceded in the first ten minutes. They finished the half strongly as they scored three goals to take a 3-1 lead at the half. Erling Haaland scored two brilliant goals and added to his impressive UCL goal tally.

Sevilla played well in the second half and pulled a goal back. The second leg seems to be heavily in Dortmund’s favor as coming back from 3 away goals will be difficult for Sevilla. One shouldn’t count them out, though. Their dynamic attack could allow them to cause an upset in Germany.

Atlético Madrid vs. Chelsea (0-1)

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA - FEBRUARY 23: Marcos Alonso during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea FC at National Arena on February 23, 2021 in Bucharest, Romania. (Photo by Stefan Constantin/MB Media/Getty Images)
Stefan Constantin/MB Media/Getty Images

Both teams started the first half excellent on defense. Atlético was better on the attack but failed to break down Chelsea. In the second half, Atlético played sat deep and played a very defensive game. But Chelsea managed to score thanks to a brilliant bicycle kick from Oliver Giroud. They finished the half-strong on defense and snagged an important away goal to end the game.

The away game will be tricky for Atlético. Chelsea has been amazing defensively, conceding only twice in the last eight games. It’ll be difficult to see them risk losing their away goal advantage, but Atlético’s potent offense should give them an excellent chance to qualify for the next round. That being said, their current poor offensive performance should mean Chelsea manages to hold on.

Lazio vs. Bayern (1-4)

TOPSHOT - Bayern Munich's Polish forward Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match Lazio Rome vs Bayern Munich on February 23, 2021 at the Olympic stadium in Rome. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP) (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)
ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images

Bayern continues to look like the dominant side that won the UEFA Champions League last year. They scored a hat trick in the first half, with goals from Robert Lewandowski and Leroy Sané. Lazio gifted them an own goal to begin the second half but managed to score one themselves. They were unable to break down Bayern’s defense after that.

Expect more of the same in the second leg. This Bayern team is nearly unstoppable, and Lazio lacks the talent required to cause a huge upset and knock them out.

Atalanta vs. Real Madrid (0-1)

BERGAMO, ITALY - FEBRUARY 24: Duvan Zapata (C) and Remo Freuler of Atalanta (L) battles for the ball with Luka Modric of Real Madrid (R) during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between Atalanta and Real Madrid at Gewiss Stadium on February 24, 2021 in Bergamo, Italy. (Photo by Ricardo Nogueira/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)
Ricardo Nogueira/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

The game didn’t start well for Atalanta, as one of their players got sent off in the first twenty minutes. However, they attacked and defended well throughout the game, and both teams were tied 0-0 at the half. The second was more of the same. However, Madrid stole a win, and an important away goal scored thanks to Ferland Mendy.

The second leg seems to be unpredictable. Madrid still has several players injured. Luckily for them, they can sit deep and defend the away goal advantage they have, enough for them to make it to the next round. Atalanta’s form hasn’t been great, and they’re struggling domestically as well. Madrid should be able to hold on.

Mönchengladbach vs. Manchester City (0-2)

Borussia Moenchengladbach's Swiss midfielder Denis Zakaria controls the ball during the UEFA Champions League, last 16, 1st-leg football match Borussia Moenchengladbach v Manchester City at the Puskas Arena in Budapest on February 24, 2021. (Photo by ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP) (Photo by ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images)
ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images

It was easy to see this result coming. Manchester City arguably has the best defense in the world at the moment. They’ve now won their last 19 games and look set to win the EPL. On the other hand, Mönchengladbach hasn’t been doing well domestically. Manchester city seemed comfortable throughout the entire game, and two away goals from Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva should put this contest to an end.

It isn’t easy to imagine them blowing this lead in the second leg. That would require Mönchengladbach to score thrice at the Etihad, which is highly unlikely. Providing there isn’t a massive surprise, City should easily make it to the next round.

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