Averaging over three goals per game, the first leg of the Champions League last 16 lived up to expectations with a medley of goals and red cards and a string of away wins. The competition returns from the international break-induced interlude on March 11th, with a number of ties still in the balance and with plenty left to play for.
In anticipation of a mouth-watering second-leg fixture list, Squawka take a look at some of the best statistics from the first-leg ties.
Real Blitz Schalke
Real Madrid produced arguably the performance of the round so far with a 6-1 mauling of German side Schalke. Carlo Ancelotti’s side’s win came after a torrid run of form in Germany, a country in which they had won just one of their previous 25 matches.
Ronaldo’s brace also means that he is currently on course to beat Lionel Messi’s Champions League goalscoring record. Real’s Portuguese talisman’s pair of goals took him to a total of 11 Champions League goals this season, one ahead of the competition’s second-highest goalscorer, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With a potential six games left to play, should either man reach the final, they are both in line to beat Messi’s goalscoring record of 14, which was set in the 2011/12 season.
Aside from the personal goalscoring glory, Ronaldo’s contribution also helped Madrid set a new competition record by becoming the first side to score in 32 consecutive Champions League fixtures.
Bayern Prove Pass Masters
Elsewhere, Bayern Munich also laid down their credentials with a 2-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. The final score came as a cruel blow for Arsenal, who were holding their own prior to the red card delivered to goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. They could have taken the lead had Mesut Ozil netted his early penalty.
Prior to Szczesny’s red card, Arsenal had completed 110 passes to Bayern’s 233. But this gap widened after the Pole’s dismissal, with Arsenal stringing just a further 40 passes together and Bayern managing a colossal 525.
One hundred and forty-four of these came from Toni Kroos, who was just six passes away from playing the ball to a teammate more times than the entire Arsenal side combined.
Kroos’ tally of 144 passes came with a pass accuracy of 97 percent, meaning that of 149 attempts, the German misplaced just five. His pass total was the highest number of passes in a single Champions League fixture recorded by any player this season, while he also capped his performance with the game’s opening goal.
Unsurprisingly given the way the game panned out, Bayern recorded the highest possession total of the round so far, keeping hold of the ball for 70 percent of the match. Barcelona, victors over 10-man Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium, recorded the next-highest possession total with 61 percent.
One surprising statistic in light of that fact is that Manchester City were 10th out of the 16 sides left in the competition in terms of completed passes despite having the ball for the second-shortest period of time of the round.
That could give boss Manuel Pellegrini some cause for optimism heading into the cauldron that is the Nou Camp next week, as his side demonstrated a quick passing game that threatened to open up Barcelona before Dani Alves’ late-second goal.
With both Manchester City and Arsenal likely to see less of the ball than their opponents but in need of a positive second-leg result, they could do well to take a look at Chelsea’s game with Galatasaray. The London side drew 1-1 despite completing just 257 passes, the second-lowest total of any side over the first round of knockout games.
The former Villarreal man, making his first Champions League start for his new club, made just eight passes over his 85 minutes on the pitch, giving him a pass accuracy of just 44 percent. He also failed in all three of his attempted take-ons and three of his four headed duels, and he failed to hit a single shot on goal.
Schalke defender Felipe Santana also suffered a night to forget. While he fared better with the ball than Perez, he made two defensive errors (the only player of the round to make multiple errors), both of which led to goals for Real Madrid.
With the first leg done and dusted and averaging 3.25 goals per game, a number of ties remain to be settled ahead of the second leg. While Schalke look all but out, all of the other fixtures could see momentum swing. The round’s stats so far suggest that Bayern and Real Madrid could be the teams to beat as the competition hots up, but there remains plenty to play for ahead of the second round fixtures in the last 16.
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