Teams in Europe rundown
All of the English sides have now played at least once in their respective European knock-out ties, and so Ticketbis decided to take a look at how England’s representatives did against the Continent’s finest.
Despite losing the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie with French Champions Paris Saint-Germain, Londoners Chelsea may on balance be the slightly happier of the two sides heading into their second-leg clash at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday 9th of March.
Just five minutes after giving away the freekick that allowed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG’s star striker, to break the deadlock, much maligned Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel scored what is already looking a crucial away goal for the blues. Edinson Cavani’s second half strike earned PSG a deserved win on the night, but both sides know that a mere 1-0 victory would send Chelsea through at the Parisians’ expense. And there is nothing this modern Chelsea knows how to do better than keep a clean sheet, on a European night.
It wasn’t such a happy story for Arsenal against Catalan giants and tournament favourites FC Barcelona. Heading into the game hopeful of advancing past Barcelona in a Champions League tie for the first time, Arsenal resisted well for the first 70 minutes, even managing to create the odd oportunity, Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain really should have scored when presented with the ball, unmolested by opponents in the middle of Barcelona’s penalty area in the first half.
Yet ultimately they were undone by the type of lightning fast counter-attack that Barcelona are becoming famous for, and a penalty that (slightly surprisingly) the Catalans managed to put away. Arsene Wenger’s men now need to score at least twice at the Camp Nou (not wholly improbable with Gerard Pique suspended and one of the dodgy duo of Jeremy Mathieu or Thomas Vermaelen set to take his place), and keep Barcelona’s devastating forward line in check.
Frankly, the Gunners have pretty much zero chance of progressing to the quarter-finals. But hey, there’s always the league for them to focus on.
Leading the way for English clubs in the Champions League, City dispatched an admittedly inferior Dynamo Kiev 1-3 in a freezing cold Olympic Stadium in Kiev. Goals from Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure secured the victory for Manuel Pellegrini’s side and should make the second leg in Manchester a mere formality.
And just as well for City, as despite having claimed the first trophy of the season by defeating Liverpool on penalties in the Capital One Cup final, their season hangs on progress in the Champions League.
Their title challenge hanging by a thread (City currently lie 10 points behind leaders Leicester and have lost their last three league games) City sacrificed the FA Cup in the hope of securing progress in the Champions League. A healthy showing in Europe’s premier club tournament will be key in evaluating not only this season but also departing manager Manuel Pellegrini’s legacy at the club. Indeed such is the state of their league form that victory in the Champions League may be their only route into the competition next year. A state of affairs that Pep Guardiola surely did not envisage when he agreed to take the hot seat at the Etihad.
Liverpool earned a last 16 tie against arch-rivals Manchester United after beating German side Augsburg 1-0 at Anfield in the Europa League Round of 32. The Reds only managed one goals over the two legs – admittedly one more than their opponents – and will surely need to be much more potent in front of goal if they are to overcome their North West neighbours.
The returns of Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho will be crucial to Liverpool’s hopes of progressing (both started the second leg against the Germans but are yet to hit top form and fitness). The Anfield outfit are one of relatively few clubs left in the competition whose best chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League lies via victory in the Europa League. This may give The Reds a certain edge over Manchester United and other teams competing on multiple fronts, an edge that may just see them home to glory in May.
A comprehensive 5-1 victory over Danish side FC Midtjylland propelled the Red Devils towards the aforementioned last-16 clash with Liverpool. Important as the result itself was, the match will long be remembered as marking the emergence of 18 year-old Mancunian Marcus Rashford whose match winning double will live long in the memory of everyone at the ground.
Rashford’s display was complimented by an excellent all around display from his teammates, most notably Memphis Depay who dispelled recent doubts about his suitability for Manchester United with a scintillating display of wing play.
The form of both Rashford and Depay, coupled with the return to fitness of striker Anthony Martial and goalkeeper David de Gea will boost the Red Devils heading into their clash with Liverpool. Yet Liverpool are also putting in some encouraging performances, whilst the unpredictable nature of both cup football and local derbies mean that this will almost certainly be a tight, enthralling affair.
Spurs overcame what seemed on the paper the most difficult opponents for any of the English teams in the Round of 32. Despite being without focal point Harry Kane, Mauricio Pochettino’s men put in a mature, sophisticated performance to overwhelm Italian opponents Fiorentina 3-0, thanks to goals from Ryan Mason, Erik Lamela and an own goal from Viola captain Gonzalo Rodriguez.
Yet Spurs will again be cursing the luck of the draw after being pitted against German giants Borussia Dortmund in the Last 16. Spurs will at least be strengthened by the returns of key players Harry Kane and Moussa Dembele and the White Hart Lane outfit will be hoping to take another step towards a first European trophy since 1984.