UEFA’s League of Champions

The UEFA Champions League, the tournament to determine the best club in Europe, is almost over; less than a month remains before the final in Milan will be played. Since my last article, there were sixteen teams left in the tournament, but now, only eight remain. The games played in the round of 16 were not fit for those with heart conditions, specifically that Bayern v. Juventus second leg game. Blinking was not an option; let’s start off in the beginning of Bayern v. Juventus in the first leg. Bayern and Juventus tied 2-2 and when the second leg came, Juventus was on fire: They scored 2 goals against the wall that is Manuel Neur in the beginning minutes of the first half. It appeared to be that the Italians were to go through; however, it is wise to never underestimate the German club. Robert Lewandowski, a Bayern Munich striker scored a goal in minute 73. Juventus was losing their grip, and then came sucker-punch, Thomas Muller with a 90th minute equalizer. This revived the moral of Bayern, but destroyed Juventus’ pride. To further add to the disgrace, Bayern went on to score two more goals in extra time, sending them off to the final and ending the match with a 6-4 on aggregate.

The next heart pounding match was Atletico Madrid v. PSV. Throughout the whole 90 minutes of the match, there were no goals, sending the teams off to extra time. Sadly there were no goals during these 30 minutes of extra time. I say “sadly” because no one likes going to penalties, they are arguably the tensest moment of any match: Players line up to the penalty spot, face to face with the goalkeeper, or face to face with the penalty taker, the entire stadium is watching you, you score, you give your team a chance to win, you stop the penalty, you give your team a chance to win. Well, it happens to be that these two teams practiced their penalties because the final score was 7-8! I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to be a fan there at the stadium; their hearts must have been pounding harder and harder as each player scored their penalty, the goalkeepers; anxiety rising as they concede each penalty. Then, after an eternity, a PSV player finally missed their penalty, the hearts of PSV fans must have been broken, many atheist fans might have started talking to the Old Man Above again, praying that Atletico miss their penalty; sadly, Atletico went on to score, sending them to the quarter-finals. Remember what I said about some of the matches not being fit for people with heart conditions? Matches like these are the answer.

The remaining games weren’t as tense as these two games; this is so because many already knew the outcome of the other games before they even began. For example, the FC Barcelona v. Arsenal game, both are great teams with  great players and both are doing well in their respective leagues. However, Barcelona’s victory came in thanks to their trident: Messi, Neymar and Suarez. Their star player, Lionel Messi, scored his first two goals ever against the mighty Petr Čech. Then, in the second leg, Barcelona yet again opened the game with goals, this time Neymar scored. Following that in the second half, the newly-signed Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny scored against the Spanish titans; this made him the first Egyptian player to score against Barcelona; sadly, the hopes of Arsenal beating Barcelona were crushed when Suarez scored and Messi scored in the closing minutes of the match. Similarly, Barcelona’s rivals, Real Madrid did well in the round of 16. They were put up against the Italian team Roma. The Spanish titans went on to beat Roma 4-0 on aggregate, scoring two goals each game. In the first game of the first leg, for nearly all of the 90 minutes, they were scoreless when Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the one of the best players playing today, scored in the second half. In the dying minutes of the first game, Jesé Rodriguez scored, igniting the Real Madrid crowd into cheers of happiness, but putting Roma fans in tears. To further add to their sadness, Roma lost yet again by two goals in the second game. The goals were scored by Ronaldo and the Colombian James Rodriguez.

Only a few more months remain until the final in Milan will be played, eight teams remain, who will win, who will claim the title as the best club in Europe? Will it be the defending champions FC Barcelona, or will they be dethroned and a new team will be crowned the best? Who will it be? Find out in the coming weeks.