Yesterday four teams went head to head in the 1st leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 games. PSG defeated Real Madrid by a 1-0 scoreline at Le Parc des Princes. On the other hand, Manchester City humiliated Portuguese club Sporting CP by putting five goals past them and earning a 5-0 victory. Today, we will take a detailed view of how all the teams fared and what lies ahead of them in the competition.
Mbappe turned out too much to handle for Carvajal
Paris Saint Germain had the combination of one of the most lethal striking trio in the world, a solid defensive line, top-class midfielders and the best goalkeeper winner Gianluigi Donnarumma. They were up against a Real Madrid team that lost a group phase game against Moldovan FC Sheriff. The Parisians were heavy favourites going into the match.
Despite having Neymar fit and ready, Mauricio Pochettino decided to start Ángel Di María in the front-line beside Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe. PSG started the game very well; in fact, if Di Maria had connected Mbappe’s grounded pass inside the penalty box, they could have taken the lead inside 5 minutes on the clock.
Pochettino’s team just kept on producing. Even though Madrid defended the central area impressively with Casemiro, Modric and Toni Kroos, they got beaten up in the two flanks. Especially in the right flank area, where Mbappe was winning battles against Dani Carvajal all day long. The attacks kept coming from the right side, and it was a matter of time before Carlo Ancelotti’s team made a mistake. Well, they certainly did one.
Carvajal attempted a diving challenge to stop Mbappe from advancing and kicked the French star’s leg rather than winning the ball in the 60th minute. Messi was on the spot after the referee gave a straight penalty. However, the Argentine superstar’s shot directed to the lower right-hand region was blocked by Thibaut Courtois.
Pochettino finally substituted in Neymar in the 72nd minute, which changed the game’s course completely. The Mbappe-Neymar duo produced some beautiful link-up play, and it finally gave the breakthrough to the home team. At the 90+3 minute mark, the Frenchmen met the Brazilian’s backheel pass in a decisive area, and he slid it past the Madrid goalkeeper.
With this victory, PSG has put themselves in a comfortable position. However, they have to go to Santiago Bernabeu on 10th March. Well, one goal lead is not much against the current La Liga leaders; however, it still gives them the mental edge going into the second leg.
Manchester City taking no prisoners
Manchester City wrecked Sporting CP’s defence in an extraordinary fashion last night. Pep Guardiola’s team had the mental edge going into the game, and they exceeded all fans’ expectations. They earned a comfortable 5-0 victory at the away game with the help of the goals scored by Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and a brace from Bernardo Silva.
City aggressively started the game and went on the front foot with just 6 minutes on the clock. Mahrez’s goal was ruled out for offside primarily, but the referee was pushed to change his decision after the VAR check. With one goal in the 7th minute, they didn’t slow down for a second.
The Algerian star initiated the vents for their second goal with his corner kick Rodri eventually met the ball uncomfortably and fell in a no-man area. Bernardo rushed towards the ball and kicked it with real venom resulting in a stunning goal. City Academy graduate Foden struck the ball from a point-blank range after Mahrez’s pass went past three opponent defenders and found the Englishman.
Bernardo Silva again scored in the 43rd minute after Sterling broke the defensive line and set up a beautiful pass for the Portuguese star. Silva again scored in the 49th minute, but that was ruled out for offside. ,
Before the half-hour mark, the English side added another three, and Sterling put the nail in the coffin by scoring the 5th goal with an incredible curling shot.
The quality of Manchester City midfield provided a considerable advantage. Players like Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo and Rodri created many decisive chances. Wears, Sporting couldn’t capitalise on any of their counter-attacking attempts. Fernandinho came on the pitch in the 73rd minute replacing Rodri, and surprising, he also played a more aggressive position than he usually plays.
With this win, Pep Guardiola’s team has already put one leg in the Quarter Final of the Champions League. They could push in a much higher tempo when the Portuguese team comes to Etihad next month. Even though the away goal rule doesn’t apply anymore, City would be heavy favourites to win the next leg. However, football games are pretty uncertain, and who knows if Sporting manages to overturn the tide. Well, they certainly can watch the Liverpool vs Barcelona game of 2019 at Anfield for motivation.
Ahead of Wednesday night’s fixtures attention will be on Liverpool v Inter Milan, with Liverpool fans hoping that Salah and co. will follow in City’s footsteps by putting in a strong performance so they can head to the San Siro relatively stress free. However, that is easier said than done. Betway do consider Liverpool as favourites to come out on top in this tie, and have boosted the odds on Liverpool to Win and Mo Salah to score from 9/4 to 3/1.