UEFA Champions League

Winners and Losers from Champions League Last 16 2nd Leg: Messi and PSG Soar

Christopher AtkinsContributor IMarch 13, 2014

Winners and Losers from Champions League Last 16 2nd Leg: Messi and PSG Soar

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    Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    The first set of Champions League last 16 ties are over and four of this year's entrants have already booked their place in the quarter-finals.

    Once more, the four fixtures this week brought drama and controversy all around but ultimately saw comfortable aggregate wins for all those that progressed.

    Who, then, were the winners and losers of the past two days' action?

Winner: Lionel Messi

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    Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

    Argentine magician Lionel Messi is generally the right man for a big occasion and stepped up once more this week in Barcelona's 2-1 win over Manchester City.

    From the start of the game, he was causing a problem for the City defence with his dribbling ability and, early in the second half, he hit the post after another such run.

    Eventually, he found the back of the net in the 67th minute and, in the process, he moved one step closer to Raul as the top-scorer in Champions League history.

Loser: AC Milan

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Despite Kaka's 30th goal in the UEFA Champions League, AC Milan slumped to a 5-1 aggregate defeat against Atletico Madrid with a heavy loss in Spain.

    While Atletico are an excellent side, the result underlines the task ahead for new Milan manager Clarence Seedorf as the Rossoneri look to get back to former glories.

    There is talent in the Milan squad, but by the San Siro side's high standards they are weak in many areas of the squad. The scale of their defeat in Spain only serves to emphasise how far they have fallen.

Winner: Bastian Schweinsteiger

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    Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

    Having spent much of the season on the sidelines, Bastian Schweinsteiger's Champions League return was a moment in itself. The German, though, capped his outing with a goal and a fine individual performance.

    It could be argued that Schweinsteiger has not been missed, with Bayern having a wealth of midfield assets available at all times. On Tuesday, though, he showed any doubters just what he can offer to Pep Guardiola's side.

    With Bayern approaching the end of campaigns in multiple competitions and Germany set to be one of the favourites at the summer's World Cup, Schweinsteiger's return will be of great relief to many people.

Loser: Arsenal

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    Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

    For the second year running, Arsenal put in a strong performance at the Allianz Arena in the second leg of their tie with Bayern Munich. On both occasions, though, the damage was already done.

    The Gunners have had injury problems that have hampered them in recent weeks and spent a long period of the first leg with just 10 men, yet they kept in touch with Europe's strongest side.

    However, a brave display when a tie is already lost has become something of a habit for Arsenal while the club's trophyless run continues to grow ever longer.

Winner: PSG

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    Michel Euler/Associated Press

    French champions PSG came close to a major shock when they pushed Barcelona close at the quarter-final stage last season. Two wins and a dominant showing against Bayer Leverkusen later and their stock has risen yet further.

    The French side scored six goals over the two ties and were able to rotate their squad for the home leg this week, in which they still secured a 2-1 victory.

    With an abundance of talent in forward areas, they have the assets to harm any side left in the draw and will be a side nobody wants to face in the next round.

Loser: Pablo Zabaleta

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    Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Manchester City crashed out of the Champions League to Barcelona despite two good performances—at least when they had 11 men on the pitch.

    For the second game running they had a man sent off and, on this occasion, it was Argentine Pablo Zabaleta. Dismissed for dissent, albeit after an admittedly awful refereeing decision, Zabaleta is set for a ban at the start of next season.

    The frustrations were understandable, but Zabaleta let himself down by losing his discipline with the match already looking beyond City's grasp.

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