Winners and Losers from Champions League Last 16 First Leg: Away Teams Dominate

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2014

Winners and Losers from Champions League Last 16 First Leg: Away Teams Dominate

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    Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press

    This season's Champions League edged closer to taking its final shape as the round of 16 first-leg fixtures came to their end this week, some teams reaching the midway point with higher prospects than others.

    Manchester United's loss in Greece, Real Madrid ending a German curse and the plethora of storylines surrounding Chelsea and Galatasaray's first-leg meetings were all on the agenda for this week's encounters.

    Read on for a breakdown of who won and lost the most over the past two days, as well as a more general look back at the round of 16 first legs' eerie trend.

Winner: Injury-Hit Borussia Dortmund

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    Dmitry Lovetsky/Associated Press

    It's no secret that Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund team has been severely hampered by injuries this season, with a number of key faces missing for the Tuesday trip to St. Petersburg.

    However, even with the midfield trio of Jakub Blaszczykowski, Ilkay Gundogan and Sven Bender missing, not to mention the defensive duo of Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic, Zenit were no match.

    Squawka statistics show that while the Black and Yellows may have held a minority of the possession, Dortmund soaked up the pressure of their hosts, eventually emerging as 4-2 victors.

    It's a testament to the depth and resolve of a side that was coming off the back of a 3-0 Bundesliga defeat to Hamburg and could easily have dropped off following that result.

    From here, things only promise to get better for a squad that's been through extremely bad fortune when it comes to squad fitness.

Loser: David Moyes' Manchester United Project

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    The biggest storyline to emerge from this week's Champions League fixtures came out of Piraeus, where Manchester United opened their round of 16 account in miserable fashion.

    David Moyes' side now face an uphill task in coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the return leg at Old Trafford, having now suffered four losses in their last 10 outings.

    It serves as yet another piece of evidence as to how the Red Devils have changed since Sir Alex Ferguson stepped from his position at the helm of the club, and not for the better.

    Alejandro Dominguez and Joel Campbell provided the means for the Greek drama unfolding as it did, and considering it took until the 89th minute for United to register a shot on target, it's safe to say the defeat was fully deserved.

Winner: Real Madrid's Holy Trinity

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Real Madrid's Wednesday night mauling of Schalke laid the foundations for what should be a relatively simple stroll through to this season's Champions League quarter-finals.

    The Spaniards ended a streak of six losses when playing away to German teams, triumphing 6-1 over the Miners in Gelsenkirchen, with Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema each grabbing two goals apiece.

    Carlo Ancelotti will have been hugely encouraged to see his three attacking stars in such flying form, but not only did the trio score all six goals between them, but five of the six assists were made by those players, too.

    All in all, it was a dominant night's work from Los Merengues as a whole, but to see three forwards of such quality in smooth transition was a delight.

Loser: Roberto Mancini's Revenge Mission

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    Paul White/Associated Press

    In the buildup to Wednesday evening's clash between Galatasaray and Chelsea, mind games were once again on the agenda, with Jose Mourinho and Roberto Mancini the two heads in view.

    As The Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson reports, Mancini took a swipe at his Stamford Bridge counterpart, saying that the Portuguese's treble-winning Inter team of 2009-10 was built largely by his own hand.

    Mourinho responded in kind, arguing that he merely inherited a five-a-side team, a host of his stars being brought to the fore by his own hand, players Mancini perhaps wan't as fond of.

    In the end, the spoils were shared 1-1 in Istanbul's first leg, but for Mancini to really boast an advantage at the midway point, a win for his team was needed.

    As a result, a daunting trip to West London now awaits in March, where Mourinho will undoubtedly feel confident of riding the storm back in his regular stomping ground.

Winner: Teams in Foreign Territory

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    More inclusive of the entire first-leg phase of the round of 16 as a whole, the past fortnight of action was an especially fruitful one for the away teams.

    Olympiakos, surprisingly enough in retrospect, were the only team that managed to claim a home win from the eight fixtures at hand, with one draw and six away wins making up the rest of the first-leg results.

    Defending champions Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid all managed to claim essential aggregate advantages from their trips away from home in what was an extremely fruitful period for the travellers.