Category Archives: UEFA Champions League

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Roma complete miraculous comeback to oust Barca from Champions League

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A spectacular second-leg performance saw Roma comeback and defeat Barcelona 3-0 (4-4 on aggregate) and reach the Champions League semi-finals on their sole away goal.

Barca were huge favourites to progress after a 4-1 first-leg win, but they were utterly dismantled at Stadio Olimpico.

There were early signs of danger as Roma got a dream start when Edin Dzeko struck early from close range and Daniele de Rossi added a second-half penalty as Gerard Pique bundled Dzeko over in the box.

With time running out, defender Kostas Manolas scored the crucial third goal, heading Cengiz Under’s cross in at the near post with eight minutes remaining.

The goals by de Rossi and Manolas also meant that the pair would make amends for their own-goal blunders in the first-leg at the Camp Nou last week.

The crowd at the Stadio Olimpico erupted at the final whistle as the Roma substitutes and coaching staff piled on to the pitch to celebrated with the players — it had taken the team 34 years to reach this stage of the competition.

There were tears in the stands from those watching, not quite believing what they had witnessed, while Barca, unbeaten in La Liga, saw their dreams for a treble extinguished.

“It is difficult to believe but we did it and did it in style,” Dzeko said after the game. “Nobody believed in us before the game — they gave us a 5% chance of winning — but against such a team like Barcelona, you expect that after losing the first game 4-1.”

“The win is difficult to describe. We lost against Fiorentina in the league three days ago but we played an amazing game today and had even more chances to score. It was great teamwork from the first to the last minute. It is the first time in history to knock out Barcelona 3-0 and that makes it even more special.”

“We will enjoy the semi-finals — I do not fear anyone. They are all top teams. I am just happy to see my team in the draw.”

Zinedine Zidane: “I’m not interested in being favourites”

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Real boss Zinedine Zidane has played down suggestions that his side are favourites to win Europe’s most prestigious club competition again as they host Juventus.

Only a spectacular collapse will deny Real another semi-final appearance following their Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired victory in Italy, where the Portuguese captain scored two goals including an incredible bicycle kick in the first leg.

Twelve-time winners Real are therefore looking to win the competition for the fourth time in five seasons, but Zidane insisted that they could do that without being branded as favourites.

“I’m not interested in talk of favourites, I prefer to show it out on the pitch and we must respect all clubs and all aspects of football,” the former World Cup winner added.

“If we put in a great performance and we are focused throughout the match we have a good chance of battling through, but we must keep that idea in mind.”

Los Blancos will play without suspended captain Sergio Ramos when they host Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final second leg, and defender Jesus Vallejo, 21, could start alongside Raphael Varane for Real.

As for the defending Serie A Champions, they will play without key forward Paulo Dybala, who was sent off in the first leg for two yellow cards, but defender Giorgio Chiellini says that they would put on an improved performance in Spain after their first-leg disappointment.

“We’re not crying about what happened, and we go to Madrid with the desire to play a good game,” Chiellini added. “We’ll treat it like a marathon, not a sprint and we’ll need to go into the game with a level head.”

Prediction:

Real Madrid 0 : 0 Juventus

Pep Guardiola “doesn’t understand” attack on City team bus by Reds fans

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Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola said that he “doesn’t understand” the attack on the City team bus by Liverpool fans after their Champions League quarter-final first-leg match.

After the match ended in a 3-0 away defeat for City, Guardiola said that preventative action should have been taken as police ‘knew it was going to happen”.

Liverpool apologised and called the behaviour “completely unacceptable”; although no Blues players or staff were injured two police officers were hurt and the coach was left unsafe to be driven.

Liverpool said in their statement: “We apologise unreservedly to Pep Guardiola, his players, staff and officials. The priority now is to establish the facts and offer Manchester City whatever support is necessary.”

Before the game, Liverpool disseminated information regarding the routes of the team buses and asked their supporters “to gather to show their passion and support for the team… in a friendly, respectful and considerate manner”, but by the time the City team bus went past the stadium, a large crowd had gathered outside and cans, bottles and flares were thrown.

Guardiola said he “did not expect” for such an incident to happen and referenced the attack on the Borussia Dortmund’s team bus last April, which left defender Marc Bartra injured.

“Normally when the police know it is going to happen, they tried to avoid it from happening,” said the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach. “One year ago something happened in Dortmund. We come here to play football and I don’t understand this kind of situation.”

“The bus is destroyed but I did not expect a prestigious club like Liverpool doing this kind of thing. It is not Liverpool, it is the people, maybe one, two or three, but hopefully it does not happen again.”

Champions League organizers and governing body UEFA are waiting to receive reports before deciding whether to open a disciplinary case.

Barca treble dream on course after gift-wrapped win over Roma

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FC Barcelona are on course for a treble victory after two-own goals saw the Spanish giants cruise to an easy 4-1 win over Roma in the first-game of their Champions League quarter final match.

Roma captain Daniele De Rossi began his own team’s rout when he accidentally slid Andres Iniesta’s cross into his own net from about 16 yards out,

The Italian giants did have chances and could have had a penalty when Samuel Umtiti fouled Lorenzo Pellegrini right on the edge of the box, and twenty seconds after the restart, they went close when an unmarked Diego Perotti’s header from Alessandro Florenzi went wide.

However, they trailed by two when Umtiti hit the post and Roma defender Manolas put the rebound in.

Gerard Pique then after Luis Suarez’s parried shot, and although Edin Dzeko got what looked an important away goal when he converted Perotti’s low cross, the quarter-final tie seemed set when Suarez smashed home from Denis Suarez’s cross for his first Champions League goal in 11 games — a statistical anomaly for a striker who has scored 22 goals in 26 La Liga games this season.

Ernesto Valverde’s team — who are nine points clear at the top of La Liga and in the Copa del Rey final — did not even need to play well to brush Roma aside and could have even scored more.

Asked if the result was hard on Roma, team coach Eusebio Di Francesco replied: “Yes. It was unfair. (But) why not be optimistic?”

Indeed, while the own-goals were unexpected Barca’s performance did not convince — with hints of fatigue lingering amongst the players ahead of the second leg next week.