The UEFA Champions League consistently continues to shock the world with unending drama, exceptional performances and jaw dropping feats and 2017/18 edition has been no different. Instead the competition has raised the bar in shock value especially with the just concluded quarter-final round.
History never really says goodbye. History says, ‘See you later.’ – Eduardo Galeano
The two weeks of non stop action has unarguably been the best we’ve ever witnessed. We’ve looked through all eight fixtures that were played to pick out the most significant events from the four nights of unending action at club football greatest stage.
Ahead of the semi final draw later today, we can’t help but appreciate five significant things that made the last eight exceptional.
1 Endless Drama
Spanish Behemoth Barcelona beat Italian side AS Roma 4-1 at the Nou Camp with the Roman side conceding two own goals, the two own goal scorers went on to score for Roma in the second leg.
Italian champions Juventus lost 3-0 at home in Turin to cup holders Real Madrid, they however won the return leg 3-1 and almost completed a shocking comeback. Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon’s appearance in the competition was marred by heartbreaking drama, that saw the legendary goalkeeper sent off after furious protests. His first Red card in 117 Champions League games, ending his dreams of picking up a winner’s medal in the coveted competition. English Premier League champions elect Manchester City travelled to Merseysiders Liverpool only to lose 3-0 to the Reds at Anfield. They also shockingly lost the second leg 2-1 in front of their fans after going ahead the first few minutes.Two words, Endless drama!
2 Shocking Comebacks
After losing 4-1 away to Barcelona at the Nou Camp, no one expected Roma to win the return leg much less qualify, but the Italians stunned the world with a 3-0 victory to qualify via away goals. The win guaranteed Roma’s first semi-final appearance in UCL since their trip to the final in 1984.
The Giallorossi weren’t the only ones to attempt a comeback, Italian champions Juventus almost succeeded with their attempt as they raced to a 3-0 leg away at Madrid. Only to concede a stoppage time penalty knocking them out of the competition.
3 Broken Records
This year’s quarter-finals led to the smashing of several records, a huge number by Real Madrid star “Mr Champions League” Cristiano Ronaldo. The 33-year-old became the first player to score 10 goals against a single team in the Champions League, Real Madrid also became the first team to made 8 consecutive Champions League semi-finals.
English side Liverpool also set the record of most goals scored by a Premier League team in the competition with their 33 goals despite having at least two games to go in the competition surpassing the 32 scored by Manchester United in 2002/03. Firmino and Salah also became the first Liverpool players to score eight times in a single Champions League campaign.
Roma qualified for the semi finals for the first time in 33 years.
Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have also now qualified past the semi finals in four of their last 5 seasons in the Champions League.
4 That Cristiano Ronaldo Acrobatic Goal
There have been several great goals in the Champions League, from Mauro Bressan outrageous overhead kick vs Barcelona in 1999, to Zidane’s volley against Leverkusen but none compares to the precision of Ronaldo’s overhead kick in the first leg tie against Juventus.
The height, the technique, the atrocious audacity to try something as implausible as that was magnificent. If Real Madrid go on to win the Champions League, that goal might be all it take to tip the scales in his favour when the Balon D’Or coronation comes up at the end of the year.
5 Peculiar Final Four Teams
Real Madrid and Bayern Munich’s progression to the semi-finals won’t come as a shocker to the footballing universe, but the addition of Liverpool and Roma to the final four has raised eye brows with the possibility of new name in more than five years on the Champions League trophy.
Every football fan would be looking forward to the semi final draw on Friday, in anticipation of the lip-smacking match ups.
Especially because for the first time in UCL history, there will be a semi-finalist from Spain, England, Germany and Italy; Europe’s biggest four domestic leagues.