Another week of Champions League Round of 16 matches in the books. Here’s what we know:
- F’ing City Aren’t Going Anywhere – For 85 or so minutes, it looked like Schalke 04 was going to pull off a stunner against Manchester City. The Sky Blues were down a man after an Otamendi red card. Then Leroy Sané equailzed in the 85th and Raheem Sterling iced it at 90′. If you’re a Liverpool fan [looking in the mirror], City’s resilience is a bad harbinger for the next few months.
- Liverpool Need to Dig Deeper – For a half, Liverpool looked like the far superior team to Bayern Munich. But then Bayern’s passing through the back, grind it down strategy took the steam out of the Reds attack (and their fans’ enthusiasm). Given City’s resilience in both the Champions League and Premier League, Liverpool need to dig deeper if they expect to land elusive hardware.
- Don’t Sleep on Lyon – Among HPS’ers, we felt there was a chance Barcelona could trip up against Lyon on Tuesday. The 0-0 tie still leaves Barcelona in the driver’s seat, but Lyon aren’t your typical Ligue 1 joke. They’ve beaten PSG recently and have a Champions League draw against Manchester City. Barcelona have tripped up unexpectedly in the UCL (Roma, anyone?). While we think Barcelona advances, if there’s an underdog with a puncher’s chance going into Leg 2, Lyon is worth a look. They keep games tight and low scoring, meaning a lucky break or fluky bounce can alter a seemingly given outcome.
- Atlético Madrid Will Advance – After a convincing 2-0 win against Juventus, Atleti’s odds to make the Champions League quarterfinals jumped to 86% on FiveThirtyEight. Keeping a clean sheet is the difference maker here. Juventus definitely wasn’t banking on this when they rolled the Brinks truck up to Ronaldo’s doorstep.
- VAR Is Going to Change Destinies – This is the first year the Champions League has used VAR, and it’s already altering games. VAR was critical in the Atleti-Juve contest, and it’ll change the trajectory of more games to come. VAR is here to stay, and we don’t think that’s a bad thing.