2 of the most anticipated ties of the 2019/20 UCL Round-of -16 clashes went down on Tuesday night, the 1st leg clashes saw Liverpool went down 0-1 to Atletico Madrid in Spain while Dortmund also edged PSG 2-1 in Germany.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Liverpool
It’s a tale of the unstoppable force Liverpool going back to their old hunting ground Wanda Metropolitano to slug it out against the immovable object Atletico Madrid. Most would argue that Atleti isn’t that immovable object anymore but they will as well agree that there is no undermining Diego Simeone’s well-drilled Atletico Madrid, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp understood this when he said in one of his prematch conferences that playing Atleti ‘machine’ is brutal to players.
“Playing Atletico is one of the most difficult things in the life of a football player”-Klopp
Klopp couldn’t be more right as Atleti not only jettison possession for doggedness but also took an early lead when Saul Niguez scored just 4 minutes into the game. The Reds, despite having the larger possession of the ball were restricted to just 1 clear cut chance in the 1st half.
Atleti dropped even deeper in the 2nd half, frustrating Liverpool’s efforts for an equalizer and eventually saw off the tie with a slim 1 nil victory. A goal at Anfield in the return leg will make things complicated for the Reds.
It was a night Liverpool front 3 of Mane, Salah & Firmino failed to click, no thanks to vintage Atleti resolute defending. Mane and Salah were both hauled out and replaced by Divock Origi and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlin respectively.
Simeone has never lost a UCL knockout game at home as Atleti manager, played 13, won 9 & drew 4, the Argentine maintained that impressive record. Liverpool, on the other hand, lost the battle against Atleti but the war is far from over, they, under Klopp, have never lost a 2-leg-UCL tie and will draw confidence in such feat when Atleti comes visiting at Anfield for the 2nd leg.
Borussia Dortmund 2-1 PSG
There is a local saying from where i come from that interprets to; “where 2 irons meet, 1 must bend for the other”. This is how best to describe Borussia Dortmund Round-of-16 tie against PSG, 2 of Europe’s free scoring sides.
The 2 sides in their respective domestic league have been scoring goals with reckless abandon. While the host boast of attacking lineup of Thorgan Hazard, Jadon Sancho and the newly acquired, free-scoring Erling Haaland, the visitor are also blessed with rich frontline that includes Neymar Jnr, Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani, Mauro Icardi amongst others, and even more pressing is the fact that Dortmund’s former handler Thomas Tuchel now leads PSG’s dogout, some had touted him to be the x-factor if PSG is to advance ahead of Dortmund.
It was a keenly contested 1st half, however, it was the host that asked all the questions in front of goal while the visitor PSG failed to register a single shot on target, a rare occurrence judging by the array of accomplished strikers in their arsenal, in fact, the last time PSG failed to register a shot on target in a UCL match was in the defeat against Manchester United in last season Round-of-16.
The deadlock was finally broken 9 minutes after the hour mark, however, it wasn’t the star-studded PSG that notched it, it was the home side through their golden boy Haaland. Mbappe and Neymar combined for the latter to restore parity in the 75th minute, however, parity only lasted 2 minutes as Haaland completed his double in the 77th minute to restore Dortmund lead.
The sky is the limit for the young lad Haaland who now has 10 UCL goals(8 goals with Red bull & further 2 with Dortmund) this season and became the 2nd youngest player after Mbappe to reach that goal tally.
Dortmund held on to record a slim 1st-leg win, however, they would have it all to do in the return leg at the Parc de France, PSG away goal will play a major role in both teams will be set up come March 11 when the return leg will be played.