Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bayern comfortably beat Juve; Late Valdes Blunder Saves PSG

The quarterfinals of the Champions League began today and I couldn't be happier even if Chelsea isn't in the competition anymore. Today brought us two tantalizing fixtures in the form of Bayern Munich versus Juventus and PSG pitted against Barcelona. Bayern and PSG were the home teams in each fixture.

Bayern won easily at home - they were coming off a 9-2 victory at the weekend - but both goals raised eyebrows due questionable goalkeeping. Gianluigi Buffon has been one of the best goalkeepers in the world over the last ten years, he was in goal for Italy's World Cup win in the penalty shootout against France, but it seemed that he could and should have done more to prevent the two Bayern goals. Gigi does get a pass on the first goal as Alaba seemed to have bent the laws of physics to score this goal. Muller added a second due to Buffon impotently batting away a shot into the path of Mandzukic who passed the ball across the goal to Muller and he slotted it into a gaping net. While Bayern did win, they paid a heavy price. Toni Kroos likely tore his groin muscle and had to be replaced after 16 minutes; this means he will be out for the rest of the season. He plays in the spearhead of Bayern's attacking trident meaning he dictates almost every attack. Bayern was also lucky to have Franck Ribery for the second leg as he should have easily seen a straight red card for his calf rake on Vidal. This loss won't affect their domestic league form but it will certainly be interesting to see how Muller slots into that spot in the Champions League.

PSG played hosts to Barcelona; the former in the midst of a revolution to be able to truly give the latter a run for their money. PSG are the new big spenders in European soccer as they were purchased by a Qatari group with assets in excess of $60 billion dollars. Messi opened the scoring, not surprisingly, but the story of that goal was the pass from Dani Alves. PSG did well on the counterattack and defended superbly in the rest of the first half. Lionel Messi, known to be very durable, was subbed off at halftime due to a hamstring issue. His injury will have to be watched closely as that could be the deciding factor in this tie. Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally decided to show up and pull one back for the home team...even if he was miles offside at the time of Thiago Silva's thunderous header. See for yourself here. Barca earned a penalty and Xavi stepped up to do the honors and coolly slotted the ball home. Victor Valdes, how you gave up that goal in stoppage time is beyond me. Barca still have the advantage headed to the Nou Camp due to away goals but 2-2 is worlds better than 2-1 for PSG. They have a mountain to climb but with Matuidi's 94th minute goal it is a very reachable destination. It should be a cracking match in Catalonia.

Tomorrow sees Malaga facing Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid versus Galatasaray. BVB and Madrid should win either game rather easily. It is, however, the Champions League and stranger things have happened.

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