European Football is now halfway to the semi-finals after the remaining four pairs finished the first leg of their home-and-home series. The past 48 hours gave us some tremendous matches and some predictable results. Barcelona hosted Atlético Madrid in an intra-Spain fixture while Manchester United hosted defending-champion Bayern München. Both games ended in a 1-1 draw to set up for fabulous second legs next Wednesday. Predictably, Real Madrid’s home field advantage dominated Borussia Dortmund; Real scoring in the first three minutes of the game en route to a 3-0 shutout. Shockingly, Paris-St. Germain got a beat Chelsea (3-1) to put themselves in a comfortable situation next Tuesday at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester United was outclassed for most of the day by Bayern but still managed to grab a tie while also causing München MF’s Bastian Schweinsteiger to draw a red-card towards the end of the match which will force him to miss the second leg in Germany. Another good omen for United is that Bayern is not invincible at home, having given up more home goals than they do away because of how offensive they tend to be. The first goal of the second game between these two will be the biggest goal of the season for either squad. Road goals are worth more than home goals in tie-breaker scenarios.
The La Liga leg will be on that same Wednesday and with Atlético grabbing the road goal while managing a tie puts them in a good position to advance. Diego Costa is the leading goal scorer in Spain and his goal to open the match in Barcelona showed his true greatness. The Barcelona side are not without hope though because they have so many weapons at their disposal. The forwards of Neymar, Messi, and Iniesta are the most formidable in the world and it’ll take quite the defensive effort to keep them all off the board next week.
As for the games on Tuesday Borussia Dortmund has too big of a mountain to climb without salvaging a road goal. In addition, they’re so injury-ravaged that they just can’t keep up with Real’s speed and skill up front with Bale, Benzema, and Ronaldo. For Chelsea, they’ve got more than a puncher’s chance in their second leg with the road goal and heading home. In addition, it has just come about that PSG star Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss the next three weeks with a hamstring injury. PSG is not without other stars, but Ibrahimovic is the biggest and his absence in the second leg could be crucial if PSG are to fail.