The first leg of the quarter-final matchups produced plenty of goals and excitement, as Juventus swept away Barcelona 3-0, Real Madrid came from behind to defeat Bayern Munich 2-1, Monaco were classy away against Dortmund winning 3-2, and Atletico edged past a plucky Leicester 1-0.
Let’s have a look at what lies ahead in the return matches:
Real Madrid v Bayern Munich – 4:45am (AEDT), Wednesday, 19 April @ Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid (Real Madrid lead 2-1)
Cristiano Ronaldo further stamped his mark against Bayern Munich, scoring his 100th European career goal. Arturo Vidal had an unusual miss from the penalty spot when it was 1-0 to Bayern in the first half, blazing his attempt way into the stands. Javi Martinez was sent off after picking up two bookings in three minutes, which Madrid capitalised on.
Vidal’s miss looks like proving very costly, with Bayern needing to score at least twice away from home to progress.
Bayern will need to be switched on defensively to shut down Ronaldo’s runs inside the box, often swapping nicely with Karim Benzema, which makes it hard for Philip Lahm and Jerome Boateng to pick up. Expect Real Madrid to march on to the semi-finals from here.
Leicester v Atletico Madrid – 4:45am (AEDT), Wednesday, 19 April @ Leicester City Stadium, Leicester (Atletico lead 1-0)
Atletico were able to scrape past Leicester 1-0 thanks to an Antoine Griezmann penalty. The Foxes were hard to break down, holding their nerve in the face of waves of attack from Atletico and an in-form Koke. Jamie Vardy had a night to forget, barely being sighted due to Leicester isolating him in attack. Robert Huth put in a heroic performance at centre-back for the Foxes, but will be missing the return leg due to suspension.
If manager Craig Shakespeare does decide on having his side sit deep at home, Leicester will be better off having tall target Islam Slimani up front instead. Slimani is strong enough to win aerial duels against the likes of Atletico centre-backs Diego Godin and Stefan Savic.
If Vardy is retained then Leicester will need to play a different formation; wingers Marc Albrighton and Riyad Mahrez will need to sit near Vardy so he can have some link-up play, otherwise it’s too easy for Atletico to sweep up Leicester’s attempts at moving the ball. Don’t write off Leicester providing one more miracle to progress, with the tie still in the balance.
Monaco v Dortmund – 4:45am (AEDT), Thursday, 20 April @ Stade Louis II, Monaco (Monaco lead 3-2)
After experiencing a shock attack on the team bus while going to the game last week, Dortmund showed great character to play just 24 hours later, going down 3-2. Dortmund players complained after the game about having to play so soon after being emotionally impacted by the events the previous day – with good reason.
Dortmund did lose centre-back Marc Bartra to a broken hand because of the attack, forcing Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel to play Sven Bender, who scored a calamitous own-goal. Bender’s night was over at halftime, subbed off with Dortmund needing to chase the game being 2-0 down.
Rising star Kylian Mbappe did the rest of the damage against Dortmund, showing class and calmness beyond his years in front of goal. Monaco will feel confident with the three away goals to get the job done at home, while it will require another brave effort from Dortmund to progress.
Barcelona v Juventus – 4:45am (AEDT), Thursday, 20 April @ Camp Nou, Barcelona (Juventus lead 3-0)
Paulo Dybala continued to make a name for himself this season at Juventus by stepping up when needed, blitzing the Barcelona defence to score twice. It would be foolish to write Barcelona off after what they achieved in the last round against PSG, but it isn’t going to be as simple.
Juventus were able to press up very quickly when Barcelona tried playing from the goalkeeper along the ground, often forcing them into errors when trying to build up play throughout the pitch. Barcelona will welcome Sergio Busquets back with open arms, hoping he can cut off some of the play that Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira came up with.
Ivan Rakitic will need to provide more spark in the centre of the park for Barcelona as the crucial link to providing opportunities for Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. Juventus should have the experience to hold a 3-0 lead and progress.