Out of the four second legs played last week, three had heavy favorites following particularly impressive first leg victories, as Paris Saint-German, Real Madrid, and Tottenham were expected to cruise to the quarterfinals. With a 3-0 home win in hand, Tottenham dispatched Borussia Dortmund through a 1-0 away win.
But that was the exception to the rule, as the other underdogs went bonkers, shocking three first-leg winners in their reverse fixtures, including two sides who had ground out away victories! Despite Paul Pogba’s suspension and a rash of injuries, Manchester United overcame a 2-0 loss at Old Trafford, with Marcus Rashford getting the all-important final goal of the 3-1 victory with a late, VAR-assisted penalty kick, leaving Kylian Mbappe and PSG heartbroken in front of the Parisian fans.
The odds were arguably even longer in Madrid, but an earlier 2-1 win in Amsterdam was made to look like a mirage. Ajax crushed the proud Spanish side, holders of a remarkable three straight Champions League crowns who will now not get a fourth. Dusan Tadic led the comprehensive 4-1 triumph in front of the disbelieving Bernabeu crowd. In the short time since then, Santiago Solari has been sacked in favor of Zinedine Zidane who returns to his old post.
In the other game, Porto returned home following a 2-1 loss at Roma, a result that figured to lead to a second leg that could just as easily go either way. Indeed, the Italian side returned the favor, evening things up with its own 2-1 advantage through 90’ that sent them into extra time, where another controversial penalty call — this time converted by Alex Telles — decided the contest as the Portuguese fans erupted with joy.
Can this week’s second leg equal the excitement of the first leg? Probably not, but let’s tune in to find out! You certainly won’t want to miss the action if there’s anything like last week’s drama this time around.
Juventus v. Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid won the first leg 2-0 in front of the home fans and are favored to pass through. Keeping Juventus starved of an away goal was critical, as both teams are known for defense. Of course, Juve also happens to boast an offensive force by the name of Cristiano Ronaldo. Is it in the cards that somehow both Real Madrid and CR7 will be separately knocked out in the Round of 16 following so much joy together in recent seasons? Or can the Juve summon just enough magic at Allianz Stadium and pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat?
The Premier League leaders picked up an unexpectedly tight and thrilling 3-2 victory in Germany in the first leg, with a streaking Raheem Sterling memorably notching the winner from a brilliant assist by goalkeeper Ederson. With the Sky Blues clutching the opening victory along with three away-goals in hand, is there any possible way for the Bundesliga’s 14th-place team to pull an almost inconceivable upset at the Etihad? And crucially for fantasy managers, will Pep Guardiola be tempted to rest any of his regular starters?
Barcelona v. Lyon
Lyon held Barcelona to a nil-nil draw in France. Depriving the La Liga leaders of an away goal gives the travelers a measure of hope for Camp Nou, but Lionel Messi and friends will be expected to get the offense clicking back home in Spain.
Similarly, a scoreless draw came from England. Intriguingly, now we have a battle pitting two teams going different directions since the first leg, as Bayern Munich has leapfrogged Borussia Dortmund atop the Bundesliga table, while Liverpool has slipped to #2 in the Premier League behind Manchester City. Like Porto v. Roma last week, non-partisans will enjoy a second leg match that could just as easily go either way. Liverpool and a red hot Sadio Mane will be happy they only need a non-nil draw to advance, but Robert Lewandowski and Munich will certainly feel confident they can win at Allianz Arena.
How did your fantasy teams fare in the first leg? Which players do you need to perform in the second leg, and what games will you be tuning in for? Be sure to join us in the comments section as all of the action unfolds live!