It was a three week of intrigues, drama, disappointments and great combat as the Europe elite football league popularly called UEFA Champions League reaches the quarter final stage.
With this development, the English Premier League (EPL) has been made proud as Tottenham Hotspurs, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool all secured tickets to the football round of eight competitions.
When the draws were made in the early days of December last year, and the dice threw up Manchester United against the giants of French League 1, Paris Saint Germain no one, not even the most fanatic of the United fans gave the Red Devils a chance for qualification.
This was due to the precarious and perilous domestic league position of the team who have won a record breaking 20 EPL titles, but were languishing way down the log in the league table. It was during the time of the most controversial manager of the modern football era, Jose Mourinho, the Portuguese iconic gaffer.
As for Man City, and Tottenham, they were all considered to have easy passage having been drawn against the Germany Schalke 04 and Borrusia Dortmund respectively. However the Kops were thought to have shot themselves on the leg, having finished second in their group and drawn against another German team, but this time around the German giants Bayern Munich.
As for the other teams it was Ajax Amsterdam v Real Madrid, Lyon v Barcelona, Roma v Porto, Athletico Madrid v Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus.
Two and a half months later, the bookmakers were left stunned on the outcome of the two legged events. It was an unprecedented result that would eventually cause the Real Madrid gaffer Santiago Solari his job. Tottenham overcame Dortmund once again in Germany(0:1), while Porto triumphed over Roma and qualified after a 4:3 aggregate victory.
A week later, Juventus, led by the predatory Ronaldo bruised and disected Athletico Madrid on a night Athletico were made to rue the absence of enigmatic Diego Costa. It was CR-7s 8th Champions League hat trick and his 25th goal against his favorite nemesis that won it for the Old Ladies of Turin. The same night, Manchester City made a mockery of schalk 04 by dishing them 7 unreplied goals at the Etihad Stadium.
A day after Liverpool, led by their talismanic and unrelenting African war lord, Mane of Senegal went to Munich and made sure that non of the teams from the German Bundesliga is left in this year’s Champions League scheme of things. However the real drama began on February 12 when Tottenham went to war against Dortmund at the Wembley Stadium and put Dortmund to the sword. It ended 3 nil in favor of the host. The second match that night was between Roma and Porto in which Roma emerged 2:1 victors. On the match Day 2 of the Round 16 finals, it was PSG who visited Old Trafford and desecrated the Red Devils by emerging 2 nil victors.
In Match Days 3 and 4 a week after, it was Real Madrid that ran away 2:1 victors against their hosts Ajax Amsterdam in Holland, Manchester City beat Schalke 04 3:1 with 10 men after one of their players was sent off for two bookable offences. Athletico Madrid conquered Juventus by 2 goals to nil, while Liverpool v Bayern Munich, Lyon v Barcelona all ended goalless draws.
However, the drama of this round of 16 would come to ignite memories and nightmares in the second leg. Against all odds Manchester United, with the help of their legendary former coach, Sir Alex Ferguson triumphed over PSG at Parc des Princes by beating them 3 goals to nil. The same night, at the Santiago Bernabue, lowly rated Ajax with unknown and unsung heroes disgraced Real Madrid, the most successful club in European history by beating them 4:1.
As this was going on, Barcelona, led by merciless Messi condemned Lyon to their worst defeat of the season by 5:1, and saved some pride for the Spanish league.
UEFA Champions League Quarter finalists
Tottenham Hotspur (England), Porto (Portugal), Manchester United (England), Ajax Amsterdam (Holland), Manchester City (England), Liverpool (England) Juventus(Italy) and Barcelona (Spain).
By Rev. Fr. Julian U. Ilo