El Paisano

UEFA Champions League Returns to Action

Crystian Mendoza, Sports Editor

One of the fiercest competitions in European soccer returns to action April 11 when Italian giants Juventus will host Spanish La Liga runner ups Barcelona. Meanwhile Germany’s Borussia Dortmund will host the traveling French league leaders, Monaco, for the first leg of the quarter-finals in the UEFA Champions League.

Only eight teams remain in the competition, with Atletico Madrid facing the 2015-2016 English Premier League champions Leicester City April 12 while Spanish giants, Real Madrid, will travel to Germany to face Bundesliga leaders Bayern München at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern München is currently coached by former Real Madrid boss, Carlo Ancelloti, so some familiar faces will be seen on the evening as current Madrid coach, Zinedine Zidane, took over Los Blancos while assisting the ladder only a year ago. Similarly, Toni Kroos of Real Madrid will be returning to face his former club after transferring from Bayern after a stellar performance in the summer of 2014 after winning the prestigious World Cup with his national team, Germany.

Barcelona is keen to make a good impression in the first leg, as they barely survived the largest comeback in UEFA Champions League history after they won their second leg against France’s Paris Saint Germain after being behind by four goals in the last round.  

Barcelona needed a whopping five goals if they wanted to continue on in the competition all the while also having to prevent PSG from scoring any goals of their own so as not to escalate the deficit due to the away goal rule which counts one goal as two when playing away from home.

The Spanish side started the game off attacking PSG’s defensive line aggressively, and it only took Barcelona three minutes to open the scoreboard with Luis Suárez scoring a brace. It wasn’t until the 40th minute that Barcelona managed to get their second, and it was thanks to an own goal from PSG’s Layvin Kurzawa.

Going into halftime with the score at 2-0, Barcelona had to pick up the pace and net at least another three goals in order to keep their hopes of continuing. Lionel Messi stepped up to the plate in minute 50 to deliver a penalty kick to make it a 3-0 game for the Catalonians.

With Barcelona’s comeback looking very much possible, Edinson Cavani of PSG silenced the crowd in the 62nd minute of the game with a goal of his own forcing Barcelona to need to score three more goals in order to win the game.

As the end of regulation time approached, it appeared all but over as Barcelona’s Neymar managed to pick up a foul in the left hand side of the 18-yard box creating a great opportunity to test the goalkeeper. The Brazilian’s brace was beautifully placed in the top left hand corner of the goal, leaving the keeper defenseless as the Spanish side quickly picked up the ball and prepared to keep on fighting until the last minute.

Barcelona’s pressure paid off as PSG gave away another penalty kick, allowing Neymar to step up to the plate confidently as he smashed the ball passed the goalkeeper to make it a 5-1 game with all but three minutes remaining.

The Catalonian’s continued to pressure the French league leaders all the way down to the final seconds of the game when a cross from Neymar met the extending feet of Barcelona’s Sergi Roberto who barely managed to get a foot on the ball redirecting it to the top net as the stadium roared in what was the largest comeback in Champions League history.

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UEFA Champions League Returns to Action