What the first leg of the Champions League left us with


PSG players celebrate after the Champion’s League round of 16, first leg soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Barcelona at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. PSG won the match 4-0. (Francois Mori/ AP)

The Champions League returned to action on Valentine’s Day after a two-month absence, leaving us with a lot of goals, surprises and clear candidates to win the tournament.

Now is when the Champions League drama and emotion pick up in the competition. Here is what the first four matches of the round of 16 looked like.

Paris Saint German vs. Barcelona: The darkest version of Barcelona in a long time allowed four goals in the match. Barcelona’s stars, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, barely touched the ball. PSG killed the circuit in the midfield and played at a high tempo and with great intensity. In the 17th minute, PSG winger Angel Di Maria scored a beauty of a goal off a free kick, putting the ball past the fingertips of Barcelona’s goalkeeper. It was 1-0 by halftime, although it could have been more for PSG. In the second half, Barcelona faced a total debacle with three more goals coming from Di Maria, Julian Draxler and Edison Cavani.

Borussia Dortmund vs. Benfica: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could not find his footing and wasted multiple chances, including a penalty in front of Benfica goalkeeper Ederson Moraes. While Dortmund had the better match, neither Marco Reus, Lucasz Piszczek nor USA youngster Christian Pulisic could find a way to put the ball in the back of the net. Benfica stayed organized and scored from a header from Mitroglou, assisted by captain Anderson Luis da Silva, known as Luisão. It was the 500th appearance for the 36-year old.

Bayern Munich vs. Arsenal: Arsenal and Bayern Munich have been facing each other in the Champions League for a long time now, and yet Bayern always comes out on top. This year they did it with authority, outscoring Arsenal 5-1. The best version of the German team shone brightly at the Allianz Arena and left Arsenal without a response. Arjen Robben scored from the top of the box, putting the ball in the top right corner of the net. Arsenal scored their only goal after Bayern’s goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, stopped the penalty and a second shot all in the same play. Finally, in his third attempt, forward Alexis Sanchez beat Neuer to tie the game. The hope was short live as Bayern played like a machine in the second half. Thiago Alcantara scored two, while Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller joined the goal feast with each one goal. Bayern has a strong chance to win the trophy this year.

Real Madrid vs. Napoli: The reigning Champions had an unusual situation as they played the first leg of the round at home. Since they finished behind Dortmund in the group stage, Napoli will have the advantage to finish the business at home. But that wouldn’t make a difference, as Real Madrid rightfully won the first leg. Before the 10-minute mark, Napoli’s forward Lorenzo Insigne gave Napoli the lead, capitalizing on Madrid’s Keylor Navas’ mistake. The winningest team in the history of the Champions League, with 11 cups, knows how to play and they leveled the game before halftime through forward Karim Benzema. In the second half, midfielder Toni Kroos scored with an assist from Cristiano Ronaldo. Lastly, the best goal of all the games played came from Casemiro, who scored a beautiful volley by putting the ball in the right low corner. Casemiro took the ball after a deflection and hit it once, perfectly. Absolute poetry.

The next set of games are on Tuesday, Feb. 21 and Wednesday, Feb. 22. They will feature Bayer Leverkusen vs. Atletico Madrid, Manchester City vs. Monaco, Porto vs. Juventus and Sevilla vs. Cinderella team Leicester City.

Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at daniela.marulanda@uconn.edu.

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