The last-16 stage of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) started yesterday and gave quite unexpected results. Paris Saint-Germain astounded Barcelona in Catalonia, while the young players of RB Leipzig made too many mistakes to deal with frustrating Liverpool. Login Casino follows the latest sports news and describes in more detail the first matches of the awaited UCL play-off stage.
Mbappe was insane against Barcelona
PSG against Barcelona is among the most often play-off duels of the latest years in the UCL. One of the most astonishing matches happened in 2017 when the Catalonian club restored from 4-0 away defeat and won the home game 6-1. Although that result was one of the most discussed, Barca, with Messi, Suares, and Neymar in the attack, had just not to struggle in Paris to avoid an astonishing comeback.
This time, however, PSG was a clear favorite of the duel. Neymar and Di Maria's absence before the first game had to give more chances for the home side, but the total crisis in Barcelona was too obvious. The French club's creative midfield made numerous successful passes behind Barca's defenders, while the reactive Mbappe and co. showed the difference in passion and team mastery.
Despite the fact that Messi scored, he had a poor performance that night. All his four goals in UCL 20/21 were from the spot, showing the Catalonian club's team-play problems. It's hard to believe Lionel, who has been scoring in the best clubs' competition for 17 years in a row, can be happy after seeing Mbappe's fruity head trick. Now the away comeback from the struggling Barcelona seems unlikely.
Liverpool caught Leipzig on their mistakes
After a few rather successful consecutive seasons, the Merseyside club struggles in the post-COVID era. The situation with all the central defenders' injuries was further complicated by the psychological and physical burnout due to a tight schedule. This led to the team dropping out of top-4 in the English Premier League in the winter. At the same time, RB Leipzig was showing better consistency and team play during last weeks, so they were regarded as favorites more before the game.
However, young and prospective players made too many mistakes in the home game (although it was played in Budapest due to German anti-COVID rules) and gifted Salah and Mane with one-on-one fatal chances. Of course, Liverpool demonstrated enough pressing passion and forced the opponents to make a lot of mistakes, but Leipzig players were also ineffective in the final stages and missed several promising opportunities.
It's hard to be sure that this duel is also done, but now the young team has to come to England and make no mistakes, which can be too difficult task for the young squad ruled by Nagelsmann. On the contrary, Klopp dropped the pressure from the team after several losses in a row, which is highly unusual for the former UCL and EPL champions.