Champions League Final Four

Today marked the end of the second leg of the Champions League Quarterfinals and dashed were the hopes of two more teams of being crowned Europe’s best. Yesterday in the second legs of the two ties, we saw perhaps some of the greatest soccer and tactical gamesmanship of all time. For starters Josè Mourinho – having seen one of his best players go down in the opening minutes of the game – decided to plug in a relative newcomer to the Chelsea side. Eden Hazard, the Belgian star, was taken out of the second leg at Stamford Bridge and replaced by German André Schürrle.

Chelsea had entered the match down 1-3 on aggregate, but as we all know that road goal can prove to be so important and in the two matches on Tuesday that was the case. Paris St.Germain was without their best player, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was out due to a hamstring injury. All-in-all the match seemed to even up quickly when Hazard was taken off the field. Schürrle made an immediate impact as he nabbed the opening score for Chelsea in the 32′. Later Ba would end all the speculation as he grabbed the clincher in front of the home crowd in the 87′. Chelsea advanced by that road goal on the 3-3 aggregate tie.

Across the English Channel Borussia Dortmund was trying to have a comeback for the ages and nearly did it. Marco Reus scored twice in the first 37-minutes to sent the Westphalion Stadium into a frenzy. Henrik Mkhitarayan would be the goat on the day however.

The first half was dominated by BVB as they stormed Iker Casillas with countless opportunities. Two of those chances were put home by Reus and a near miss by Mkhitarayan could’ve eliminated the 0-3 deficit in the opening 45′. The momentum was truly seized by the Borussians as GK Roman Weidenfeller stopped a PK on Real Madrid’s Isco who was taking the kick in the absence of Ronaldo who sat out the match. Weidenfeller stopped the penalty and the chance was cleared. Not more than a couple minutes later Mkhitarayan missed the first of his several chances to send Dortmund on. The half clearly hurt BVB as Real got their wits about them and proceeded to stem the tide that was the “Yellow Wall”. Henrik Mkhitarayan was dubbed “Missitarayan” by the announcers towards the end of the second half as it all came to a boil when Robert Lewandowski fed him a beautiful through ball that he proceeded to hit the post with after avoiding Casillas.

Mkhitarayan would miss another opportunity later in the match and the game would end 3-2 on aggregate with Real Madrid almost being knocked out for the second year in a row by an undermanned Dortmund squad.

Wednesday led to some rather predictable results as Manchester United was bounced by defending champions Bayern München, and Atletico Madrid completed it’s elimination of Barcelona without its best player Diego Costa.

At the Allianz Arena Manchester almost did the unthinkable when they went up 0-1 on Patrice Evra’s shot, but David De Gea had a game to forget about as just two-minutes after the “Reds” got the lead he surrendered it to Mario Mandžukić. From then on Bayern would go on to blitz the United by adding two goals in flash of eight minutes. Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben would add to the score and make it a comfortable 4-2 win on aggregate.

Atletico Madrid scored the lone goal in the La Liga tie to win 2-1, the lone goal scored by Atletico was Jorge Morodio (Koke) in just the fifth-minute to put Barca in real hole. From then on it was the suffocating defense of Atletico that kept the big three of Barcelona in Neymar. Messi, and Iniesta off the score sheet.

 

The Semi-Finals Draw will be held Friday Morning in Nyon, Switzerland to determine who’ll not only face each other but who’ll have home-field advantage in the last ties of the tournament. The Champions League Final will be held in a winner take all format in Lisbon, Portugal at the “Stadium of Lights” (SL Benfica’s Home) on Saturday May, 24th on Fox. The Semi-Final ties will take place on April 22nd and 23rd, with the return legs the 29th and 30th.