With the international break disappearing in our rear view mirrors, it was time to return to top European football with the Champions league and Europa league. With Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid chasing its third champions league trophy in a row, Arsene Wenger chasing his first European glory, Gigi Buffon chasing a Champions league trophy before he retires among other highlights. Champions league kicked off on Tuesday with Juventus hosting Real Madrid in Turin and Sevilla hosting Bayern Munichen.
The highlights of the day all happened in the Juventus-Madrid game where Cristiano Ronaldo ran the show. Having been rested for the weekend league game, he was fresh to take on the Juventus challenge with one of the best defenses in Europe at the moment. He opened the scoring in the 3rd minute with a close tap in from a Marcelo cross. Juventus try to get back in the game after this by dominating possession and creating some chances though they were unable to the entire first half.
With the second half underway, Ronaldo scored what is probably going to be the goal of the tournament. It was all Juventus until Buffon and Chiellini were involved in a collision which allowed Ronaldo to sneak in behind them to get the ball. He cut the ball back to Assensio whose shot was saved by Buffon but the resulting dead ball fell on an incoming Carvajal who whipped in a perfect cross for Cristiano, who was just getting back on side. With his back facing the goal, the maestro was able to pull off a bicycle kick right to the bottom right corner that left Buffon motionless and dazzled. He ran to the corner flag next to the Juventus fans who gave him a standing ovation. This goal also left his manager, Zinedine Zidane scratching his bald head. It further drew a standing ovation from the Juventus fans for Cristiano Ronaldo which he humbly accepted and appreciated.
The Ronaldo show wasn’t yet over as he went ahead to assist Marcelo for the third. This means Madrid goes into the second leg with a 3 goal advantage.
The second game of the day saw Sevila score 2 own goals and lose 2-1 to Bayern Munich.
Wednesday saw an all English clash with Liverpool hosting Man city at Anfield. What most expected to be a 50-50 contest turned out to be a one sided show with Liverpool running riot on their visitors scoring 3 first half goals. Mo’Salah netted the first one taking his season tally to 38, Oxlade came in with the second with a thunderous shot with Mane scoring a header from a Salah assist. The second game of the day saw Barcelona thrash AS Roma 4-1 at Camp Nou.
Second leg will take place Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
Thursday saw the first leg of the quarter finals of the Europa league where all home teams were able to get wins as we wait for the second leg next week. Arsenal thrashed CSKA Moscow 4-1 with a man of the match performance from Ozil and what could be the goal of the tournament from Ramsey, Atletico Madrid beat Sporting 2-0, Lazio beat Salzburg 4-2 and Leipzig beat Marseille 1-0.
Talk has begun of Arsene Wenger finally getting some silverware in Europe with very high chances that his team will make it to the semifinals after their first leg win. The French man last came close in the Champions league final where he lost to Barcelona. In the after match interview, the experienced manager remained calm and said he will take it one match at a time.
Well we shall do the same as we wait for the second leg of all these ties next week.