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What have we learned from the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Quarter-finals

The first legs of the quarter-final of the UEFA Champions League concluded on Thursday with four cracking matches. Here's the key points.

RR
Last updated: 11.04.2019
What have we learned from the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Quarter-finals | Sports Social Blog

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The first legs of the quarter-final of the UEFA Champions League concluded on Thursday with four cracking matches.

No surprises in any of the fixtures bar one as Tottenham Hotspur beat tournament favourites Manchester City 1-0 in the newly built Tottenham Hotspur stadium.

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Goals from Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino helped Liverpool beat Porto 2-0 and the hosts would have been disappointed as they were unable to gain a bigger advantage over their Portuguese opponents.

An impressive Ajax side held the mighty Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus to an entertaining 1-1 stalemate while Manchester United were beaten 1-0 at Old Trafford against a below par Barcelona.

Here are some of the takeaways from the first legs:

1. Roberto Firmino is the underrated star of Liverpool

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane may be taking the plaudits week in week out but it is Bobby Firmino who should be receiving praises for this game. He may not boast the stats of his other two frontline partners but it is his link-up play that frees Mane and Salah. He managed to bag a goal and an assist in the first leg and Liverpool will be counting on the Brazilian striker in their hunt for a sixth Champions League title.

2. Manchester City are not the favourites anymore

Something goes wrong for Pep Guardiola when it comes to the Champions League as Manchester City succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Spurs in the first leg and are staring at a quarter-final exit for a second consecutive season. Pep’s decisions are bold and don't always work, but that's the kind of manager he's always been and playing in the Champions League won't change his thinking. There is still a lot to play for but Pep will receive a lot of critics for not starting Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne for such a crunch game. Not the favourites anymore, are they?

3. Juventus is Ronaldo

It may sound disrespectful to the other players and to the club but if it wasn't for Ronaldo, Juventus wouldn't have been here in the first place. After single-handedly knocking out Atletico Madrid in the round of 16, Ronaldo marked his return from injury with a well headed goal just at the stroke of half-time. Ajax equalised in the second half and the tie is evenly poised at 1-1. But with the second leg to be played at home and with Ronaldo within their ranks, Juventus will fancy their chances of making it to the final four.

4. Smalling has shown the way to stop Lionel Messi - Beat him

“Bring it on” is what Smalling said before the first leg. But little did we know what he meant as the centre-back left Messi with a bloody nose and eye in a brutal clash that left the Argentine uncomfortable throughout the game. United are still in the tie after going 1-0 down at home but they would have been disappointed to have zero shots on goal against a team that were always in second gear. And it is hard to imagine that the Catalans will be so lacklustre at the Camp Nou.

With still a lot to play for, we just cannot wait for the second leg to get underway next week.

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