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What we learned from the Champions League quarter-finals

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Bukayo Saka late penalty controversy against Bayern Munich.
Bukayo Saka late penalty controversy against Bayern Munich. Photo/ Sky Sports
  • We look at the main things we learned from the opening legs of the Champions League quarterfinal.

We look at the main things we learned from the opening legs of the Champions League quarterfinal, which included Xavi’s incredible substitutions and the well-known players that plagued Arsenal.

Ex-prem players haunt Arsenal

Harry Kane and Leroy Sane.

Harry Kane and Leroy Sane. Photo/ Goal

Bukayo Saka gave Arsenal the lead against Bayern Munich, setting up a stunning victory, but the German champions proved their mettle at this point. The visitors’ fortunes were reversed by well-known names, as Serge Gnabry made a surprise return to his previous club.

Despite his lackluster four years at Arsenal, Gnabry has developed into one of Munich’s top wide options. After he curled a shot between David Raya’s legs to tie the score, Harry Kane scored the visitor’s second goal to celebrate his own homecoming to north London.

With a confident finish to a penalty kick, Kane became the 15th player in his career to score against Arsenal. The former Tottenham star scored against the Gunners once more. It ended 2-2 thanks to a Leandro Trossard equalizer, paving the way for an exciting rematch at the Allianz Arena.

Barcelona comeback against PSG

Andreas Christensen

Andreas Christensen scored the winning goal for Barcelona against PSG. Photo/ Eurosport.

Up until this week, Barcelona had not won a quarterfinal Champions League match without Lionel Messi on the team. The fact that Messi left Camp Nou nearly three years ago is proof of the Spaniards’ downfall at this point.

But after an exciting 3-2 victory against Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona is just a few minutes away from their first semifinal appearance in five years. Xavi has stated that he will leave the Barcelona dugout at the end of the current season, but the legendary player is making every effort to make it a memorable departure. Since he declared his desire to go, the team has gone 12 games without a loss, and the 44-year-old’s tactical adjustments are helping the team finish the season strong.

While Pedri and Andreas Christensen assumed the positions of super subs in Paris, Raphinha, whose future seemed uncertain following the rise of Lamine Yamal, found form on the other flank. Although Christensen only needed two minutes to head in the game-winning goal upon his own arrival, the former provided an assist for Raphinha’s second goal shortly after coming off the bench.

In contrast to former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique, who decided to push Kylian Mbappe wide, Xavi made masterful tactical decisions that neutralized Mbappe’s effect on the game. If PSG are to win the match in Catalonia the following week, adjustments must be made.

Goals galore at the Bernabeu

Real Madrid

Real Madrid vs Man City. Photo/ ESPN.

This week, Real Madrid and Manchester City produced another all-time great. It is uncommon to see two elite teams play end-to-end on a day when tension usually wins out. At the Bernabeu, a 3-3 draw between the two teams that were undoubtedly the tournament favorites concluded in a back-and-forth, with Phil Foden calling the score “a fantastic result” for the holders at halftime.

Now, Real Madrid has to accomplish something the Spanish team has not done in the past: triumph at the Etihad. Five times already in the Champions League, Los Blancos have traveled to Manchester City and have lost each time. Eight goals have been given up in their last two visits, so Carlo Ancelotti’s team cannot afford to be as vulnerable in the opposite direction.

Yet Madrid has sufficient resources to cause problems for City. Jude Bellingham’s strong running may have a greater effect on the road than it did in Spain, while Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo sometimes exposed a high defensive line this week.

Kyle Walker’s health might have a big impact. This week, his absence was noticed as Rodrygo’s breakaway goal for the Spanish team was missed by Manuel Akanji. There may not be a better choice in light of Vinicius and company’s threat.

Atletico Madrid win at home again

Atletico Madrid vs Dortmund

Atletico Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1. Photo/ Into the Calderon.

With their 2-1 victory against Borussia Dortmund in the Spanish capital, Atletico Madrid is well-positioned to advance to the Champions League semifinals.

After the visitors disastrously gave up the ball early on, Rodrigo De Paul opened the score. Then, following brilliant work from Antoine Griezmann, Samuel Lino doubled the advantage.

Dortmund has a lifeline thanks to Sebastian Haller’s late goal, but Atletico must hold onto their advantage in the rematch. Based on historical accounts, Simeone’s group has a reputation for delivering outcomes when needed.

With their victory over Dortmund, Atletico maintained their incredible home record in the Champions League, going undefeated in all 17 of their knockout phase matches under manager Simeone.

I am an ardent sports enthusiast interested in writing about football, motorsport and athletics.

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