The primary matches of the Champions League quarter-final witnessed combined fortunes for the Madrid golf equipment, victories for the English Premier League title chasers, Manchester Metropolis and Liverpool, a delayed loss for the defending champion Chelsea, and a shock to Bayern Munich.
Rob Dawson, Invoice Connelly, and Derek Rae supply their views on the large questions from the midweek occasion.
Is anybody extra necessary in his crew than Karim Benzema?
Dawson: No, Benzema is within the form of his life, and there’s no crew left within the Champions League that may fancy their probabilities of stopping him when he performs this manner. Actual Madrid remains to be a crew stuffed with the very best gamers, however when you’ve got a striker who appears to attain from each half probability, it takes the crew to a special stage. His header within the first half of Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Chelsea was a murals. He’s the very best participant left within the competitors.
be mine: I can go round that and say Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku is extra necessary at this level – as any probability Chelsea have to come back again on this confrontation will doubtless hinge closely on discovering a technique to rating objectives which have largely eluded him for elements of this season. However sure, Benzema’s brilliance within the Champions League this season (11 objectives in eight matches and two hat-tricks in three knockout matches) was from one other world. Whereas Liverpool and Manchester Metropolis specifically are the favorites as a result of crew’s total energy, ninth-placed Actual Madrid provides them the possibility to battle in opposition to anybody.
opinion: There isn’t a particular person extra necessary to his crew than Benzema among the many remaining events within the competitors. On the few events he was lacking eggsThere isn’t a comparable different. His vary of objectives this season has been fairly astonishing, and his first end at Stamford Bridge will reside lengthy within the reminiscence: a chunk of artwork that leaves us questioning how he bought a lot energy in his header. Robert Lewandowski approaches that query however I feel Bayern can nonetheless discover a manner with out him in a one-off match. I am undecided the identical applies to Actual Madrid.
Jan Aage Fjortoft sees Karim Benzema’s Champions League efficiency as virtually excellent.
What different issues caught your eye from the primary quarter-final first leg?
be mine: Liverpool has loads of methods to assault you. Diogo Jota saved them in opposition to Watford this weekend, and did not even begin with their 3-1 win over Benfica on Tuesday. So is Roberto Firmino. Or Jordan Henderson! As an alternative, Luis Diaz and Naby Keita’s objective, help, eight pictures price 1.6 xG and complete assists price 0.7 xA, Liverpool simply received the Champions League quarter-final away from residence. Sure, Benfica are the weakest crew left on the sector, however the depth of Liverpool’s attacking choices is absurd.
opinion: It’s important to return a while to the final time Bayern appeared as drained within the Champions League as they did of their 1-0 defeat to Villarreal. Maybe the final elusive efficiency dates again to 2019 in opposition to Liverpool. Actually, nobody actually will get the marks of success, besides maybe Kingsley Coman. One wonders if coach Julian Nagelsmann made the improper determination to danger Alphonso Davies proper from the beginning after a prolonged damage absence. It was all very hectic and the harm Villarreal might have finished might have been even better. It is a break that Bayern Munich can cling to. The opposite factor is that they’ve 90 minutes, or perhaps 120 minutes, for his or her followers to show the tables.
Dawson: Pep Guardiola deserves loads of credit score for the way in which he dealt with the match in Manchester Metropolis’s 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid. It was a shock that he left each Phil Foden and Jack Grealish off the bench, however after they each got here in halfway by way of the second half, it appeared like a deliberate transfer, and if it did, it labored. Foden, specifically, modified the match in the way in which he caught the ball in tight areas, and Guardiola then stated the 21-year-old was capable of make use of some drained Atletico legs. The Metropolis boss has been criticized loads up to now for his Champions League misstep, so it is solely truthful that he takes credit score for when he does it proper.
Alejandro Moreno praised Luis Diaz’s contributions in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Benfica.
Will Atletico profit from a extra attacking model of play?
opinion: The humorous factor about watching Atletico often this season is that they’ve been on the lookout for a brand new identification and have often proven us their wild aspect. However this has not at all times led to earnings, and so it’s comprehensible that in Manchester – in opposition to a really completed aspect – coach Diego Simeone returned to the method most followers all over the world affiliate with him and Atleti. On this case, taking part in the way in which they performed provides the defending champion an opportunity. She wasn’t fairly, however she by no means will likely be.
Dawson: I don’t suppose so. Simeone has created gameplay that has been so profitable, why would he immediately consider turning into extra expansive? Atletico’s good attacking gamers – Joao Felix and Antoine Griezmann – profit from the conditions they create, and this can be a large a part of Simeone’s plan that’s simply as necessary as the way in which he defends his crew. In the long run, Simeone’s Atletico received too many video games (59.2% of them over a decade with him) and you may’t try this with out scoring, so he should be doing one thing proper.
be mine: What Simeone did within the first leg of Manchester Metropolis, essentially the most possession-hungry crew, made excellent sense. Atleti really despatched 5-5-0 for many of the first half and stored Metropolis fully goalless, and you may show they need to have maintained that all through the match. Sadly, they’ve to attain now for the second leg and it is going to be attention-grabbing to see what Simeone feels snug with and when he does. They rating loads of objectives in La Liga, clearly: solely Actual Madrid and Barcelona have scored extra this season.
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What makes Unai Emery a very good coach within the knockout rounds?
Dawson: It isn’t that he is a very good coach within the playoffs – he is only a good coach, cease. Some Arsenal followers will most likely disagree, however you’ll be able to’t argue along with his bio. When a very good coach finds a crew that fits his model and likewise buys what he’s making an attempt to do, something is feasible and that’s what is occurring at Villarreal now. Juventus and Bayern Munich have higher gamers, however when you’ve got a tactically expert coach, the standard hole can shut in a short time.
be mine: A band is only a very dang sound. They make themselves look higher than they offer you, and they’re actually good at forcing you to play along with your left hand. Bayern’s Lewandowski averages 39.7 touches per 90 minutes within the Bundesliga and 34.0 within the Champions League, however he solely had 29 touches in opposition to Villarreal and managed solely two pictures (and solely one in every of particular high quality). Villarreal pressured others like Koeman and Davies to create one thing out of the ocean, and so they could not do it. They’ll nonetheless within the second leg after all, however Villarreal are brilliantly pushing you away from Plan A.
opinion: Emery is the kind of coach who is sort of as pleased with establishing a sport plan that features letting the opponent get extra of the ball. The trick is to maintain the opponent balanced and pressure them into particular areas of the taking part in discipline. Typically it got here to transferring only one participant and the excellent Giovanni Lo Celso was the primary character, going from a striker on the proper in a 4-3-3 method with the ball, to a large midfielder in a 4-4-2 with out it. Emery deserves extra respect than he typically will get.