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Champions League Quarter Finals

Matthew Corgnati, Staff Writer

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The UEFA Champions League is the world’s biggest stage for European clubs to compete at the highest levels against the top teams from other nations. The quarter finals saw Leicester City vs Atletico Madrid, Juventus vs Barcelona, Dortmund vs Monaco, and Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich. This years competition saw some absolutely stunning goals and some of the years most fierce and well played action.

The first matchup saw Spanish giants Atletico Madrid go up against a team in Leicester City that is one of sporting history’s best ever stories. Atletico Madrid are lead by star striker Antoine Griezmann and centre back Diego Godin along with one of the world’s best coaches, Diego Simeone. Atletico have always been a perennial powerhouse in Spain and Champions League and looked to their dominance headed into the two-legged affair. Then there’s Leicester City. Last seasons EPL champions, the Foxes are truly one of the greatest success stories in sports history, shocking the world with new found star forward in Jamie Vardy and winger Riyad Mahrez. This was Leicester’s first ever Champions League appearance and the task of taking on one of Europe’s best sides was not an easy one. The first leg saw the game end 1-0 to Atletico after a first half penalty that was tucked away by Griezmann. The game was overall fairly balanced play with chances for both sides but Atletico dominating possession. This mean that the Foxes would have to win the next leg by two goals or more against one of Europe’s best defenses in order to advance. Leg two saw a 1-1 draw in which Saul sent Atletico out to an early lead in the first half which Jamie Vardy equalized later in the match. Despite some of Leicester’s best play of the season, it was still not enough as Atletico was able to advance on a 2-1 aggregate score.

The next match was the one of the most anticipated; Italian giants Juventus vs Barcelona. Last years Serie A winners Juventus have one of the world’s best all around teams that seems to improve with every game. Lead by lethal strike force Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain along with arguably the world’s best defensive combos in Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci paired with the Italian legend in net, Gianluigi Buffon. Then there’s Barcelona. What is there to be said that they haven’t won or accomplished? The world’s best front three, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar have been tearing apart defenses for some time now and will continue to do so. Since the world’s best attack was matched up against the best defense it was sure to be one of the best Champions League matchups to date. The first leg shocked all of the footballing community as Juventus dismantled Barcelona 3-0 and completely dominated in every aspect of the word. Juventus had complete control of the game on the offensive and defensive ends as they completely shut down all of Barcelona’s weapons. With this in mind, Juventus were able to sit back and defend during the second leg which ended in a 0-0 draw that sent the Italians through 3-0 on aggregate.

The third matchup saw the most attacking matchup of the tournament; Borussia Dortmund vs AS Monaco. Dortmund are one of the world’s most exciting teams with the speed and skills in star striker Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and wingers Marco Reus and Ousmane Dembele. The team clearly has a much more attacking mindset as they have lead Europe with the most chances created this year. Dortmund was matched up against a very similar team with almost an identical play and tactics. Monaco boasts a strong attack with two of Europe’s best young player in Mbappe Lottin and Thomas Lemar. The first leg was just as expected, a high powered offensive affair that was won 3-2 with many chances going both way for both teams. This set up a huge matchup in the second leg that either team could run away with due to their high powered nature. That is exactly what Monaco did, taking the second leg 3-1 in a strong outing vs Dortmund. This meant that Monaco would go through to the next round with an aggregate score of 6-3.

The final matchup was arguably the two most iconic teams in the world; Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich. Not much is left to be said Madrid, they are lead by Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Sergio Ramos. There’s not much more that can be said about the reigning Champions League winners. Facing off against the best team in Germany is no easy task tho, Bayern boast world class striker Robert Lewandowski and along with the world’s best keeper in Manuel Neuer. The first leg was a well matched affair that saw Madrid take home the victory 2-1. This meant Bayern would have to come out of their defensive shell in the second leg which caused them to concede 4 in the second leg as Madrid took home a 4-2 win. This meant Real Madrid would be sent through 6-3 on aggregate.

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Champions League Quarter Finals