The second pair of matches in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 had some expected outcomes, competitive first halves, and some statements made in the second halves.
The teams involved included German superstars Bayern Munich taking on Arsenal, and Real Madrid versus Napoli.
At the beginning of both games, and throughout the first halves, it looked like the games were going to be close. The second half changed any doubt about the power-houses that are Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
The first game featured underdog Napoli visiting the reigning Champions League Cup winner Real Madrid, and their bevy of stars. “Los Blancos” were able to defeat Napoli 3-1, after an interesting first half Madrid was able to pull away with some great shots.
The game seemed evenly matched at the start until the 8th minute when Lorenzo Insigne from Napoli got the action started with a goal in the 8th minute via a long-range shot that bounced in the back of the net.
A shock, Napoli continued to play and keep up with Madrid’s attack. Instead of defending the Spaniards continued their attacks.
Eventually, the constant attack would pay off. A brilliant cross from Carvajal to Karim Benzema for a great header in the 17th minute would tie the game at 1-1. The half ended with more attacks from Real Madrid that had chances to do some serious damage.
The second half kicked off, and Napoli was able to show some type of potential to keep the score tied, or try to take the lead. Toni Kroos answered in the 48th minute for Madrid. He belted in a shot from the outside of the box, Cristiano Ronaldo go the assist for the Kroos goal.
Ronaldo continues his drought in the Champions League. He had a close shot late in the first half that bounced off the bar. He would not have a better chance to score after that miss. He is bound to bounce back.
The final shot came in the 58th minute from Brazilian Casemiro, with a bullet from 25 yards out, the score could be one of the top goals of the this year’s Champions League. Real Madrid looked unstoppable, there were also chances where James Rodriguez and Marcelo to notch a shot in the back of the net.
Napoli had a chance to score again in the final minutes, after a shot from Jose Callejon. He would go on to be called for the offside.
Real Madrid now has enough breathing room with the comfortable win. They now head to Italy to try to seal the deal on March 7th for the second leg.
The other game was one that had similar beginnings with a tied score in the half, then an explosion by the other team. Bayern Munich took on Arsenal, and defeated them easily with a 5-1 victory at the Allianz Arena in Munich.
The game kicked off with domination by Bayern in the Arsenal half for the most of the first half. The scoring began with a beautiful Arjen Robben shot that curved into the top-right corner after a beautiful left-footed shot from outside the goalie area.
The Gunners were quick to respond. They began attacking, and pressing with precise passes. They got rewarded via a penalty kick after a Robert Lewandowski mistimed kick on Laurent Koscielny’s leg. That opportunity was set up after Bayern defender Mats Hummels received a yellow card for fouling Alexis Sanchez near the penalty area.
The penalty was missed by Sanchez, rebounded by him, blocked again, kicked out, only to be knocked in by Sanchez to make the match equal at 1 all. Mesut Ozil had a close shot blocked by goalie Manuel Neuer. The second half brought a completely different Munich and Arsenal team.
Arsenal had a tough break after defender Koscielny went down with a hamstring injury in the 49th minute. It proved to be costly for the Gunners.
The goals in the second half for Bayern started after a beautiful pass from Phillip Lahm to a waiting Lewandowski who headed it in over two Arsenal defenders in the 58th minute.
Next, Lewandowski was able to connect with Thiago after a beautiful back-heel, and a great breakaway from Thiago in the 56th minute. A few minutes later Thiago was able to double-up after a kick outside the box, which deflected off of a corner that touched both an Arsenal defender, and their goalie Kieran Gibbs.
Lewandowski hit the bar, Robben had his shot blocked, and the chances were there for Bayern. Thomas Muller, who was the late sub, came in and scored; on a shot that Thiago could have easily had his hat trick for the game, instead passed to the struggling Muller to make the lead 5-1, and has the Germans one foot in to the next round.
Critics were not impressed with Bayern’s recent overall performance in both league play, and the Champions League.
The mood changed after the remarkable performance, Bayern looked sharp, and their attacks were consistent. The total goal count could have been 7 or 8. Arsenal looks like it will again be eliminated by Bayern in the Champions League after their performance, reminiscent of their exit a few years earlier. They play again on March 7th in London.
Bayern Munich Real Madrid performances today, and Paris Saint-Germain’s performance yesterday, have propelled them into favorites to win it all in Cardiff on June 3rd.
The round of 16 continues next week with matchups that include Bayer Leverkusen taking on Champions League Cup runner up Atletico Madrid, Manchester City versus Monaco, and also Porto taking on Serie A standout Juventus.