Two titans of European soccer played in the elimination rounds of the UEFA Champions League. The round of 16 has some notable matches that kicked off this afternoon.
There were two matches on the schedule today. The first involved the European powerhouses Paris Saint-Germain and FC Barcelona. Also on the schedule was Bundesliga standout Borussia Dortmund taking on SL Benfica from Portugal.
The two matches were played simultaneously. Before the start of the games Barcelona and Dortmund were favorites to win their respective games.
That was not the case for either.
Dortmund began the game extremely aggressive and seemed to be in control. Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang moved the ball around steadily and had plenty of chances in the first half. The only problem is that they wre not able to make anything of the abundant chances that were created.
The Dortmund side played a solid game, but was unable to score any goals. There was also a golden chance that presented itself as well in the 58th minute via penalty kick. Aubameyang lined up to take the shot. This opportunity looked like the Germans chance to get back in the game.
Unfortunately, the penalty kicked was blocked by Benfica’s goalkeeper Ederson, who also made some key saves throughout the game, and Dortmund did not have a better chance then that to score. Benfica switched up the layout of their team and that proved effective as they were able to take the 1-0 lead after a goal from Kostas Mitroglou.
Aubameyang would be subbed out soon after. Reus also had some chances, but couldn’t get through the Brazilian goalkeeper from Benfica.
Dortmund definitely lost the game. They had enough chances that they did not take advantage of to either tie the game or take the lead. Benfica is now 90 minutes away from moving on the round 8, Dortmund will need to make adjustments to try to avoid an early exit.
In the other match of the day, and let’s face it nobody expected the outcome, the juggernaut that is Barcelona was crushed by the under-dog Paris Saint Germain at the Park des Prince 4-0.
PSG never let up, every single counter-attack looked threatening at several points throughout the game.
Barcelona struggled to get shots off; Neymar Jr. seemed to be seriously injured during the game. Barcelona did not look like a four-time Champions League Cup winner.
Even the fans at the stadium were surprised by the large margin of such a celebrated team like Barca. The loss ties the biggest deficit in the Champions League that the Spanish team has faced.
Their stars Neymar Jr,, Lionel Messi, and Luis Suarez were essentially shut down by PSG’s impeccable defense. Their attack was spot on. There was four shots on goals before the 10th minute of the game.
The onslaught started with Angel di Maria scored with a brilliant free kick in the 18th-minute. The kick went clear over the Barcelona wall that curved its way in, after Suarez attempted to head the ball away.
The newest PSG signee, and German star Julian Draxler, scored on a beautiful shot in the 40th minute. After the break, the goals continued.
Di Maria scored his second goal on the night, after breaking away and shooting a beautiful shot from 25 yards out that curled in to make it a 3-0 lead at the 50th minute. He had an amazing game, and his mind was on attack and his passes were precise.
Edinson Cavani, who was celebrating his birthday, along with di Maria, scored in the 72nd minute with a power shot to the side of the goal. The performance of PSG was spectacular; Barca’s was lackluster to say the least. Their defense was non-existent, and so were their stars.
Barcelona was essentially shut down, and now facing a daunting task heading back to the Camp Nou on March 8th. If not, it looks like PSG will be moving on after a stunning, yet beautiful performance from the Parisian underdog.