Cheers to us! Time to pop your corn and pull up your cola cans once again. No! not for a late-night movie, but because UEFA Champions League is back! Yes, Club Football’s biggest competition is back again and it is going to be a roller-coaster ride now. It’s been a long wait, nearly 70 days, and yes, we football fans are always low on patience. While yesterday we watched a turbulent City crush a frail Sporting and a differing PSG grabbing a late finish against a tired Real Madrid, we have some interesting encounters stocked up for today’s date. So, let’s cut to the chase and have a look into the results of the 2nd Match-day of the UCL Round of 16.
Inter Milan hosts Liverpool:
An encounter to remember. Liverpool’s deadly attacking combinations would always trouble even the best of the teams. Except for a resurgent Madrid and a hungry Bayern, no one seemed to be a match for them. Such was their dominance that they cruised past the group stage without a scare, becoming the only English team to do so. Then came the UCL RO16 draw, actually two draws. Liverpool was pitted against a defensive powerhouse Inter Milan. What followed was a load of curiosity. An explosive Liverpool going against Unbreachable Inter Milan? Yummy! Just what can satiate our appetite. And it did.
Liverpool was facing Inter Milan for the first time in 14 years. Their previous encounter was also in Round of 16, albeit in the 2007-08 season, which the English side won. During the first 60 minutes, the match was at a stand-still. Contrastingly, Inter Milan led most of the attacks, while Liverpool banked on their defence. In the 60th minute, Liverpool released their latest signing Luis Diaz in a chilly San Siro, and he heated up the atmosphere in the next 10 minutes to follow. Coming in for Mane, Diaz was expected to help in the build-up, but he did something even more exciting. He led the team with his dynamic energy and pounced on every possible chance, just the way Klopp likes it. Inter displayed their speciality as the Nerazzuri endured countless attacks, before being breached by a Roberto Firmino header in the 75th minute. The credit entirely goes to Trent Alexander-Arnold who deceived the home-side to focus on the centre and sent an unexpected cross to the near post.
Things got worse for Milan when Mo Salah threaded in a low shot through the defenders. It was in the blind spot of the veteran Samir Handanovic and the Slovenian giant couldn’t react at all as he helplessly watched the ball roll into the net. Earlier in the match, Ibrahima Konate and Liverpool’s favourite Virgil van Dijk inspired the team by some courageous and bold defensive displays. While the score-line doesn’t reflect it, the match could have gone either way as both Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez were constantly in the ears of Alisson. Liverpool would definitely not make the mistake of being complacent when they face Inter again on the 9th of March.
RB Salzburg takes on Bayern Munich:
This match was heavily touted to be in favour of Bayern Munich but RB Salzburg did every single thing possible to keep things exciting. Chukwubuike Adamu banged in a stunner at the 21st minute. While Bayern managed to keep possession for 72% of the time, and had almost twice as many shots as their hosts, they failed to make it count.
In a long time, has someone parked the bus as neatly as Salzburg did? Just after scoring a goal in the 21st minute, the Austrian side just gave up on having the ball. They gave freedom to Bayern and formed a complex and efficient defensive structure to repel anything that comes. While Bayern managed to breach Salzburg’s defence a number of times, RB Salzburg’s goalkeeper Philipp Kohn risked everything he had to stop the ball. Making a total of 8 times, Kohn displayed tenacity which few players have nowadays. Surprisingly, Robert Lewandowski struggled to make an impact in front of the goal. Kingsley Coman finally managed to get one for German giants in the 90th minute but that served just as consolation to the humiliation they endured. Expected to be beaten by Salzburg by a big margin, Bayern was left in awe when they saw a weaker RB Salzburg side fight against all the odds.
We have witnessed two fine matches today, but don’t think this is all. This is the beginning and there is more to come. In its entire history, UEFA Champions League has never failed to impress us. Be it be underdogs beating the giants or impressive battles between two of the best in business, it always delights us to no end. Gossip aside, we have a few questions for you. Who do you think will win tomorrow? Who do you think will progress further and Who do you think will earn the glory of conquering Europe this season? The only answer is Wait and Watch!