Something is happening again. There might well be better coaches in Europe when it comes to creating a title challenge throughout an entire league campaign. There are certainly coaches in Europe whose teams play better against football. But there is no coach in the world you would rather have in the hurtful, tingling Champions League round of fights.
The teams at Simeone make it incredibly difficult for the opposition to erode their minds and punch them in the gut just for a good measure.
This was the most intriguing duel of the last 16. It was the two big Champions League players of recent times, but two sides for which an exit at this early stage could cause a significant fallout. We also expected that it would be the most closely matching game of the round.
Group all managers of the clubs that reach the quarter-finals and ask them to raise their hands if they want to face Atletico. Then watch as they all look at each other and try not to attract attention when they are sitting on their hands.
Atletico has excelled not only in her resilience and glorious bastardy; They perfected the art. Look at where this year's finale is played. They could not, could not they?
Manchester City, in spite of itself
You know the pattern meanwhile. Manchester City take the lead in the first half and immediately look like they could score one or two times faster. Then stupid mistakes creep into their game and reach a crescendo when the opponent can balance himself. Meanwhile, City is trapped in its sloppiness and strives to shape their authority in the game. This sloppiness helps to revive the opposition.
Even by the standards of Southampton, Leicester City, Huddersfield, Arsenal and others, this was bad. Nicolas Otamendi is liable for his outstanding 2017/18 again. The disadvantage of Fernandinho being a center-back is that his tactical fouls are more likely to be closer to City's goal. The Brazilian has been penalizing Newcastle and Schalke in recent weeks.
The difference between City in the Premier League and the Champions League, however, is their ability to respond to adversity. Since the beginning of 2018, City has taken only one point in the Premier League games, leaving them behind (Wolves in August 2018). In the Champions League City was lagged behind in four out of six games, but still won three and drew one of them. And so in Gelsenkirchen came a familiar answer with ten men. To accompany fantastic attackers, it takes courage.
However, one can see why Guardiola might be angry after repeating this show in the last three months. After the game, Guardiola argued that City can not win the Champions League if they continue to allow their opposition to push back the initiative. It should be difficult to argue given the resistance that the city should face in the quarterfinals should they develop further.
He has escaped his nightmare in the Premier League and joined a club and manager who play much stronger than Chelsea. Morata had already eliminated a goal from VAR before he played a significant role in Atletico's kick-off. He needed a home where he could rediscover his love for the game and good luck for him.
Twitter is a cesspit, but it still rarely has moments of glory. One of those moments is when a magical goal is scored in a high-profile game, and your timeline becomes a long list of messages that do not seem inappropriate in Beano or Dandy and do not all look like weirdly extended vowels. Think of whoooooooosh, ooooooof, whaaaaat, baaaaang and wooooaaaaaah.
Free kicks spasmodically moving beyond the reach of a goalkeeper are the outstretched fingers. Free kicks that are struck back with the laces instead of the instep are also great. You can add points when they lift and rise when they go online. But for top-notch, clean, uncut free kicks, you need a mix of both. Enter Leroy Sane.
If you want to be a bit mean, you can conclude that Henderson is Liverpool's best player, saying as much about the team's performance as his own. Henderson is a fireman in midfield, more than he is a creator, but you can only fight fire if someone has left the hob or carelessly thrown away a burning cigarette.
But Henderson can not control the performance levels of his fellow human beings. The Liverpool captain used his program notes to deny the idea that someone was turning his eye away from the ball and prioritizing the Champions League Premier League. Henderson spent the next 90 minutes proving this opinion while his teammates put forward the opposite case. The competition for places in the central midfield of Liverpool is higher than almost every other club in Europe and expresses the best of him.
The defense of Bayern Munich
We may have underestimated Bayern Munich, just as we underestimated Paris Saint-Germain last week before joining the last ten minutes of their first leg in Old Trafford countless passports while their supporters played olé. d. Sometimes we get carried away with the perceived strength of English teams. Familiarity rules.
But then there was evidence that the Bavarians were broken or at least broke. Niko Kovac's team is on track to lose more points this season than in the last seven Bundesliga campaigns and score more goals than anyone but the last 20.
This defensive vulnerability had been particularly severe Away games: Borussia Dortmund, Ajax and Bayer Leverkusen had conceded three goals. Bayern had not conceded in six games in 2019. The form of Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng had worried that both would irrevocably fade.
But when Kovac really needed a powerful defensive effort, his reputation was answered. Hummels and Niklas Sule were superbly positioned against Liverpool's front three, which means that Bayern were not hit by David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich, who were pushing forward from full backs. After they thwarted this plan, the pair was perfectly prepared for Liverpool's Plan B intersection. Alone Trent Alexander-Arnold has tried eleven crosses from open play. That sum was only beaten twice in a Champions League game this season.
Both Liverpool and Bayern will believe that a 0-0 draw in the first leg will help the return leg, but Bayern will not be scared. Bayern have won in April 2014 22 of their last 26 home games in the Champions League. They have scored at least 16 times in 16 out of 26. The defense has done its part. Now the attack needs to be strengthened.
It is still clear that they are traveling to a stadium where Barcelona scored the last goal nearly a year ago and have scored three goals in the Champions League last two years. However, Lyon should go to Camp Nou with hope and effort, knowing that he has scored in each of the Champions League away games this season.
More importantly, Lyon is a team on an upward course. Of the 13 field players who were deployed on Tuesday night, 12 were 25 years or younger and 10 were 23 or younger. This is a golden generation.
Gnabry was not brilliant at Anfield (though he had beaten Andrew Robertson more than once), but look at the progress he has made. His last two international appearances in England were 56 minutes for Hoffenheim in a 4-2 defeat at Anfield in August 2017 and 68 minutes in a 0-3 league cup defeat to Norwich City for West Brom in September 2015. These are the benefits of Descend the Premier League in the Bundesliga, before it tried any jerk.
Being asked to do unfamiliar work under difficult circumstances and, apart from a few early flaps, it looks very safe. The task of Fabinho was helped by the satisfaction of Bayern with a defensive 0-0 draw, but this does not detract from his performance. Exactly the kind of performance that makes a player his superior.
Um … Liverpool?
It's basically impossible to know if Liverpool should be satisfied with his first-leg result. Since the founding of the Champions League in 1992, the team that drew the first leg away from home has moved up 22 out of 31. But Liverpool should not be discouraged. They will travel with Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren to Munich and know that an away goal Bayern must meet at least twice.
In the Champions League, Liverpool has indeed not scored twice in the Champions League (Napoli and Crvena Zvezda), but they have scored in every second away game in all competitions since May 2018. So look on the good side.
Immediately after the halftime in the Wanda Metropolitano that had mocked throughout the first half, Cristiano Ronaldo opened his hand and reached out five fingers to indicate how many He has won titles in the Champions League. An hour later, his hopes of involving his second hand had been severely impaired. Atleti was pleased when the Portuguese ball was deflected from the second goal.
Do not underestimate how much a previous Champions League outcome would hurt Ronaldo. In the last 12 seasons he has won the competition five times and only once in the semi-finals. Part of Ronaldo's motivation to become Juventus was to be a differentiator in Europe. He wanted to win the Champions League with a third club and be six times at the European Cup with Francisco Gento.
Without dramatic second turnaround (which he will surely delight), Ronaldo's dreams are in his first failed season at Juventus. That will not be good.
VAR for handball decisions
I'm not totally against VAR as a concept. I can see why it was extremely helpful in Atletico's game with Juventus on Wednesday, when it turned out that a foul had taken place in the box outside the region and the problem was quickly resolved. VAR can be used for on / off, on / off or yes / no decisions, not at all subjective and generally easier to decide efficiently. In general I am satisfied with a faulty sport where referees make mistakes, but I can understand why the clubs would prefer that they be eliminated.
However, if you introduce VAR for subjective decisions, you're experiencing issues. Instead of an immediate yes / no decision, you simply pass the decision of a referee on the field to a referee who looks at a screen. This call can take a few minutes to make the call, frustrating viewers in the stadium. Different people have different opinions, even when they are asked to make decisions according to the same rules. This has always happened in football and will always be.
Handball turns it into a farce. The rules themselves are vague enough to interpret decisions, but the nonsensical aspect is to see repetitions in slow motion to make the call. Otamendi obviously tried to move his hand away from the ball. Was the intention of the Handball Act that players could effectively aim for a defender's hand in the hope of a penalty?
In slow motion everything looks like handball. By lowering the speed to make the decision, you are corrupting the event. About traps.
Liverpool's Front Three
Coughed and babbled away their chances. On Tuesday night, Liverpool's three front either stormed the odds or he lost them trying to take too many touches. This was a Goldilocks assault service where nothing was right.
It seems ridiculous to criticize Mohamed Salah for having scored both in this season and last season, but he does make periods of games in which he is clearly amateurish, making bad touches and making even worse decisions. Against Bayern, most of the game was spent in this strange haze.
Roberto Firmino plays a selfless role near Salah, but on those nights you can forget that he's on the court. Sadio Mane is the opposite, he constantly challenges the ball, but stumbles from the sublime to the ridiculous when he gets it. Mane would have scored the first goal in the first half and tried too hard to make up the rest of the game.
During the games that Salah can not shoot, Mane is often Liverpool's Wankelpferd. If he produces some magic, click on Liverpool. If he fails, Liverpool and Flitter flutter, but he lacks attack power.
Jurgen Klopp will reject any concerns about Liverpool's abusive attack, but this is not a new development. Since December, when they scored almost three goals per game in all competitions, they have scored more than once in two out of eight games. Old Trafford would be a practical stadium to rekindle this fire.
I'm never ashamed to make the same mistake twice, so here. In this column, last season, I wondered if the era of the Majesty of Luis Suarez was coming to an end. He had scored three goals in all competitions until mid-November. From December he scored 14 goals in 13 games and made me stupid. At the end of the season Suarez had scored 31 goals in all competitions.
Now I'm wondering again. Suarez has not scored since September 2015 in a Champions League away game and scored more than 1,000 minutes no goal. On Tuesday night, he missed the coincidence and slowed down the game eerily. He stands up in this Barcelona team, and that's not a compliment. Suarez turned 32 last month, but his next game will be the 700th of his career. Eventually, the decline will be inevitable.
But that does not help Barcelona. Ernesto Valverde may need to consider placing Lionel Messi in the middle and returning Philippe Coutinho on the left with Ousmane Dembele on the right to take a break from Suarez. In all competitions he has scored seven goals since the 3rd of November. Messi is 18 years old.
Our early loser can talk about the talk, but is too busy before he even goes for a walk.
Has earned a reputation as a forward-thinking, courageous young coach, but Schalke is in heavy fire in the Bundesliga. It is certainly no shame to lose against Manchester City over two legs, but if you win the first leg against ten men 2-1 and win a central midfielder for a striker and end up losing 3-2, questions asked asked. If that sounds unfair, welcome to the big leagues.