Champions League Recap: Five Things We Learned This Week

High Press 10 February 13, 2019 265 Reads

Four Champions League Round of 16 Leg 1 matches are in the books.

On Tuesday, Roma defeated Porto 2-1, and Manchester United lost at home to Paris Saint-Germain 2-0.

On Wednesday, Tottenham dismantled Borussia Dortmund 3-0, and Ajax hung at home (with some help from their fireworks loving fans) but ultimately fell to Real Madrid 2-1.

Five Things We Learned

  1. Real Madrid’s hot streak is for real. RM’s recent La Liga form isn’t a fluke. Ajax is a strong young squad (one that will be breaking up too soon), especially at home, and Real Madrid showed their Champions League mettle earning a tough road victory. Karim Benzema (60′) put Los Blancos up and Marco Asensio (87′) put it away. Ajax threatened late (squandering a last minute equalizer), but there’s a reason why Madrid just keeps winning and others don’t.
  2. Manchester United’s hot streak is not. Listen, we’re not one to overreact and do the “Sky is falling at Old Trafford” routine. However, PSG looked like the deeper and more disciplined squad. Maybe this is a learning experience for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and he implements a tactical plan to meet the attitudinal shift his squad has made. What is clear is Man U need a master plan to make up the 2 goal differential heading to Paris.
  3. Christian Pulisic will do well in the Premier League. If Wednesday’s game against Tottenham is any indication, Pulisic will have no problem adjusting to the Premier League. In a game where BVB was thoroughly run over in the second half, Pulisic (save for a couple of early miscues) was a constant attacking threat. Jadon Sancho might’ve taken his minutes this campaign, but Pulisic looks ready for his next phase.
  4. Son Heung-Min is the most underrated player in the Premier League. Seriously, Son is freaking legit. No Harry Kane, no Dele Alli, no problem. Son put Spurs up early in the second half and led a blistering second half attack.
  5. Roma and Porto are still in the Champions League. All dumping on these two sides aside, this was supposed to be a coin-flip match-up and all signs appear to a closely contested Leg 2 game. Yeah, the other 7 teams who advance will be wearing their lucky socks on the Champions League Quarterfinals drawing day to play one of these two, but Porto is strong at home, Roma is erratic, and this will live up to the 50/50 match-up most predicted.

Updated FiveThirtyEight Probabilities

Three teams have seen significant jumps in their advancement probabilities after this week’s games.

  • PSG was a heavier favorite than many would’ve thought going into their tie with Manchester United, but they’ve jumped from around a 70% favorite to advance all the way to 97% following their 2-0 away win.
  • Tottenham saw their win probability increase from 60% to 95% after thrashing BVB.
  • Real Madrid was at one time an underdog to advance via FiveThirtyEight, starting at 48% after the draw and during their slump. They’ve now moved to an 81% favorite to advance.
  • Of course, Roma and Porto are the closest match-up, with Roma moving from 50/50 to 61%.
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