The first leg of the 2021 Champions League was historic for many reasons. For the first time in history, seven of the eight matches resulted in losses for the home teams. The only team that managed to win at home was Porto, who scored once at the start of each half before allowing Juventus to score a late goal in the 82nd minute.
This historic number of away victories is certainly partly due to the lack of supporters in the stadiums, as the cheers and motivational chants of the past have been replaced by silence.
However, despite the missing crowd, we should not underestimate the strength of the teams that won, as many of them were considered favorites anyway.
With the second leg underway next week, let’s take a look at the top players from the first four games of Stage One and what each team will be looking to accomplish in Stage Two on March 9-10.
Leipzig 0-2 Liverpool: Mohamed Salah
Just when we thought the game could go in the direction of Leipzig, Mohamed Salah took advantage of a capricious pass and defensive slip into Leipzig’s half of the pitch, sending the keeper the wrong way and the burying at the bottom of the nets in 53 minutes. No game for the Leipzig defense, as he has effortlessly added another goal to his total of 20 goals this season. The strike broke the deadlock and gave Liverpool the momentum to score a second goal five minutes later.
Barcelona 1-4 Paris Saint-Germain: Kylian Mbappé
Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) trailed Barcelona in the first half until Kylian Mbappé took it upon himself to equalize in the 32nd minute. Mbappé then scored a second and a third in the 65th and 85th minutes. The latter was named the Champions League goal of the week, pulled into the top corner after a commendable run and help from teammate Julian Draxler. The young Frenchman is no stranger to the attention of the world, having contributed significantly to France’s World Cup victory in 2018, and he will surely continue to make headlines for the remainder of his League campaign. champions.
Sevilla 2-3 Dortmund: Erling Haaland
2020 Golden Boy Erling Haaland provided two goals and an assist to secure Dortmund’s relentless victory over Sevilla. The 20-year-old Norwegian has scored 17 goals in 18 Bundesliga appearances this season and 18 goals in 13 career Champions League appearances in the last two campaigns. Haaland certainly has no plans to slow his pace anytime soon, and he thanked compatriot Mbappé for motivating him to score the day after the Parisian’s victory at Barcelona.
Porto 2-1 Juventus: Wilson Manafá
Although several Porto players put in commendable performances in the victory against Juventus, Wilson Manafá stood out in particular. The Portuguese right-back had a 92% success rate, created three chances and made two tackles. More importantly, he smartly assisted Porto’s all-important second goal in the 46th minute, breaking through Juventus’ defense and preparing well for Moussa Marega to slip into the back of the net.
Analysis for next week:
Leipzig 0-2 Liverpool:
It has been historically difficult to beat Liverpool at Anfield stadium, but without their rowdy fans this year has seen the end of Liverpool’s undefeated circuit in 68 games. Having lost at home in the first leg, Leipzig face a tough task and will look to take advantage of an empty Anfield to make up for their deficit in goals. The Germans will have to score at least two goals and concede none to get back into contention. An overall score of 2-2 would send the game into overtime and possibly penalties to ensure there is a winner. A 3-3 draw would send Leipzig to the quarter-finals based on away goals. Liverpool will look to avoid either of these scenarios, hoping to maintain their lead with solid defense and a quick attacking line.
Barcelona 1-4 Paris Saint-Germain:
After crashing at home against PSG, Barcelona will need to score four goals at Parc des Princes (and ensure the hosts don’t score any) in order to secure a place in the quarter-finals. If Barcelona score three goals and the hosts don’t, the result will be a total of 4-4, with PSG advancing into the next round, having scored one more away goal than their opponents. Getting an overall victory for Barcelona won’t be easy; if PSG manage to score goals at home, the visitors will need to score more than four to reach their goal. While it seems far-fetched, it’s not impossible – Barcelona found themselves in a similar situation against PSG in 2017 when they lost 4-0 away to Paris and managed an incredible comeback to win 6-1 at home in the second leg. The Catalans will aim for the second remounted next week to reverse the goal deficit.
Seville 2-3 Dortmund:
Sevilla’s home loss two weeks ago means that in order to win the Spanish side will need to score at least two goals in Dortmund while ensuring the Germans do not. A simple 1-0 win for Sevilla would propel Dortmund to the quarter-finals for the first time in four years, as their three away goals in the first leg would carry more weight and break a 3-3 draw. However, striker Dortmund are highly unlikely to settle for a 1-0 loss, and that will ensure this second leg is goal-filled and exciting. A Sevilla victory would be quite historic, as the club have only qualified for the quarter-finals twice before.
Porto 2 – 1 Juventus:
Porto’s victory on February 17 gives them a bit of a head start against Juventus heading into this second leg. However, after conceding a goal for Juventus in the 82nd minute, a 1-0 loss to the Portuguese next week in Turin would mean the Italian giants advance instead. Juventus hope to score at least one goal and not concede any to advance to the next round. It will probably be the closest match of the first week, and it is the only round of 16 between two former Champions League winners.