The Champions League quarter-final first legs saw stories of heroism, shock results and managerial mishaps. Eleven goals rattled in across the round, setting the scene perfectly for next week’s second legs.
With records waiting to be broken and key players missing through suspension, the drama is set to continue as Europe’s elite eight become four.
Bayern Munich have won 17 of their 46 European matches against English opposition
According to EuroCupsHistory.com, Bayern Munich’s record against English clubs hasn’t been as fruitful as you may have thought.
After a 1-1 stalemate at Old Trafford in the first leg, David Moyes’ Manchester United will travel to the Allianz Arena confident that they can eliminate the defending champions, though they’ll need a big performance on Wednesday to reach those lofty aspirations.
Nemanja Vidic put United ahead in the first leg before Bastian Schweinsteiger equalised for the Germans, but Bayern will have to manage without Schweinsteiger’s services in the second leg. The 29-year-old was sent off late in the game at Old Trafford for his second bookable offence and joins Javi Martinez, who will also miss out after picking up a booking.
United winger Ashley Young was proud of his side’s first-leg performance and said that both Schweinsteiger and Martinez will be a big loss for Bayern during an interview with Martyn Ziegler of the Daily Mail:
Everybody wrote us off before the game but we created many chances. We know they are a good team but we knew we would get chances on the counter attack. We managed to do that and got the goal. Schweinsteiger is going to be a miss for them. Martinez will be as well. But we have to concentrate on ourselves and put on a performance.
Meanwhile, left-back Patrice Evra returns from suspension for the Premier League side, though his place was filled well by Alex Buttner during his absence. The Dutchman will be hopeful of keeping his spot in the team.
United have a mountain to climb at the Allianz Arena, but after Hoffenheim held the Bundeliga champions to a draw last weekend, they will know that anything is possible.
The draw ended Bayern’s 100 per cent home league record this season, as former England goalkeeper David James tweeted:
Bayern's 100% league home record comes to an end, 3-3 with Hoffenheim— David James (@jamosfoundation) March 29, 2014
If United could take a leaf out of Hoffenheim’s book and draw 3-3 at the Allianz, it would be enough to see them through to the semi-finals on the away goals rule—stranger things have happened in football.
No English team has progressed after conceding three or more goals in a Champions League quarter-final first leg
That’s according to OptaJoe on Twitter, which will deflate Chelsea fans’ hopes of reaching the semi-finals with its latest statistic:
3 - Chelsea join Man Utd, Liverpool & Spurs in conceding 3+ goals in a Champions League QF first leg. The others were eliminated. Concern.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 2, 2014
Chelsea were beaten 3-1 by Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg, with manager Jose Mourinho taking the rap for a humbling defeat in the French capital.
However, the Blues will be boosted by the news that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be unavailable for the return leg at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday after picking up an injury.
According to Chelsea Mad, the 2011/12 champions have welcomed PSG to Stamford Bridge just once in their history, where they could only manage a 0-0 draw back in the 2004/05 season.
A similar result will see Chelsea go out of the competition, but with striker Samuel Eto’o likely to come back into the fold for the second leg, the goals could finally be flying in for the West Londoners.
However, Mourinho’s men will have to do it without their industrious Brazilian midfielder Ramires, who picked up a yellow card in Paris.
With Nemanja Matic cup-tied, the Blues have been left short in central midfield and will potentially start Frank Lampard alongside David Luiz in the holding roles.
Mourinho has accomplished staggering things in the Champions League during his managerial career, and turning Chelsea’s quarter-final deficit over will rank amongst the very best of them.
Cristiano Ronaldo matches Lionel Messi’s Champions League goalscoring record
The Portuguese sensation that is Cristiano Ronaldo took his Champions League tally to 14 for the season during Real Madrid’s 3-0 thrashing of Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-final first leg.
Ronaldo added to goals from Gareth Bale and Isco to put Madrid well and truly in the driving seat heading into the second leg in Germany on Tuesday.
Fourteen goals for Ronaldo matches the goalscoring record set by Lionel Messi in 2011/12, but with OptaJoe showing us the bigger picture on Twitter, it’s clear to see that Ronaldo’s contribution goes further than single seasons:
48 - Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 48 goals and assisted 11 more in 47 Champions League appearances for Real Madrid. Hectic.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 2, 2014
Following his side’s defeat, Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp gave an interesting insight to Sid Lowe of The Guardian when asked whether his side could turn the leg around: “Do you think I am an idiot? We lost 3-0 and now we have to shut up. This is not a situation for hope or big speeches."
Klopp orchestrated a famous 4-1 win for Dortmund against Madrid in last year’s semi-final, with all four goals coming from Robert Lewandowski, who missed this year’s tie at the Bernabeu through suspension.
With Lewandowski coming back, Dortmund will possess much more of a threat going forward, but it doesn’t come close to the threat of Madrid.
With Ronaldo, Bale and Karim Benzema all finding form, the chances of the Germans making a famous escape from the brink of Champions League elimination is minimal.
Ronaldo needs just one more goal for yet another place in the history books, and you’d be a brave man to bet against him finding it in Dortmund.
Atletico Madrid have lost three of their last four league matches at home to Barcelona
Atletico Madrid proved to the world why they’re La Liga title candidates by taking a 1-1 draw away from the Nou Camp in their Champions League quarter-final tie with Barcelona.
However, according to Fussball Datenbank, Atletico will welcome the Spanish champions to the Vicente Calderon with the form books very much out of their favour, losing three of their last four home games against Barcelona in the league.
Diego Simeone has forged Atletico into a real force at the top of the European game, and they’ll back themselves to progress with the help of their away goal from the first leg.
However, they may have to find a way past Barcelona on Wednesday without their top marksman Diego Costa, who limped off at the Nou Camp with a hamstring injury, as Fox Soccer revealed via Twitter:
Atletico striker Diego Costa almost certain to miss out on Champions League second leg against Barcelona. http://t.co/oKQnCnJiJR— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) April 2, 2014
Costa has scored 25 La Liga goals this season, per SoccerWay, and his absence will be a big blow to Atletico’s hopes of progression.
Although, as his first-leg replacement Diego proved with a stunning goal, Atletico have the squad depth to trouble Barcelona no matter who lines up in the striped shirt.
Despite the Madrid side’s poor recent record against Barcelona at home, their form against the Catalan giants this year has been impressive, holding them to draws in all four meetings this season across all competitions.
Another draw of 0-0 will send Atletico through to the semi-finals, and while it won’t improve their win rate at home against Gerardo Martino’s side, it certainly won’t matter to them.