Champions league Last 16: Review of the First Matches

The first leg of the Champions League last 16 got under way on Tuesday night when current Premier League title leaders Chelsea took on French side Paris Saint-Germain, and Shakhtar Donestk hosted 2013 Champions League winners Bayern Munich. As was to be expected the match was a relative stalemate, with Ivanovic and Cavani scoring for their sides, securing a 1-1 scoreline in Paris.

Jose Mourinho took his squad to Paris for the first leg of the round of 16 action with the hope of securing a victory away against Laurant Blanc’s strong PSG side. The mega match-up didn’t live up to expectations; the match was a tightly contested affair, with chances from both sides, but both only managed to capitalize once. Mourinho did manage to come away from the match with an all important away goal, which, given their record at Stamford Bridge, will make Chelsea favourites for the second leg.

Bayern Munich managed only a 0-0 draw after 94 minutes of play; the German side travelled to Ukraine to take on current Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk, expecting to win comfortably. The match proved to be a somewhat limp affair, similar to that of the Chelsea v Paris Saint-Germain stalemate on the same night. The biggest drama of the night came when Xabi Alonso was sent off following two yellow cards during his 100th Champions League game, leaving the German side without its holding midfielder for their next home tie.

The Spaniard fouled Teixeira during the first half of the match and was later yellow-carded again when he took out Taison during the second half. Despite the drama of the red card neither side really looked likely to catch fire throughout the match, both teams sharing 35 fouls and seven yellow cards throughout their first leg encounter, leaving their next tie in March to be greatly anticipated.

The following night, Real Madrid looked very impressive in their opening last 16 match against Schalke, after Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the first time in a month to beat the German side. There was much gossip regarding the Portuguese star ahead of his match in Gelsenkirchen after the controversy surrounding his 30th birthday party, but it didn’t take long for Ronaldo to quash the doubters and repay his manager’s faith as he scored the opening goal of the match as Real won 2-0.

Ronaldo’s goal was followed impressively by Marcelo, who scored after 76 minutes to secure a well fought away victory. The Spanish side, unbeaten in their last ten Champions League matches, look a shoe-in for the quarter-finals after their convincing win over Schalke.

Much like the Bayern vs Shakhtar and Chelsea vs PSG encounters, Porto and Basel’s tie also hangs in the balance after they drew 1-1 in Switzerland after the first leg; the match will be decided after they meet again in Portugal early March.  Porto looked to dictate much of the play, and will be slight favourites when they play their second leg at home next month.

The remaining four round of 16 matches will take place next week, with Manchester City taking on Barcelona at home, which may prove to be the closest fought match of the competition. Arsenal also play their first leg at home, taking on Monaco. Last year’s runners-up Atletico Madrid will play away against Bayer Leverkusen and currently struggling German side Borussia Dortmund will travel to Italy to face Juventus.

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