Tuesday night was yet another superb one as far as European football is concerned, seeing two ties which seemed to be pretty much put to bed turned around in quite dramatic fashion.
A Marco Reus inspired Dortmund put Real Madrid to the sword early on in Germany, and almost overturned the 3-0 deficit inflicted upon them in the first leg, just falling short at the end of it.
Chelsea on the other hand did manage to pull off a remarkable comeback, defeating French side Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 on the night and hence qualifying on the away goals rule.
In the wake of this remarkable action, here’s a look at what we did learn on Tuesday night...
1) Never bet against a man called Mourinho
Well, the man is either certifiably mad, or a real genius. Jose pulled of one of those great comebacks at Stamford Bridge last night which many other mere mortals would only dream about.
Chasing a 3-1 deficit, most Chelsea fans were relying on the memories of “that night” at the Bridge against Napoli when the Blues overturned the same score-line to go through to the next round.
The past few weeks have seen the Chelsea boss lose a couple of games on the trot, and come down hard on his struggling strike force. In a pre-game interview before playing Stoke on the weekend, Mourinho also played dumb to Samuel Eto’o’s chances of returning for this clash.
However, surprise surprise, the Cameroon man was on the team sheet to start against the French Champions and it definitely made a major difference. Chelsea looked superb in defence all night, the only chances they gave away were inevitable as the men in blue pushed forward to get the vital two goals they so required.
The enforced substitute Andre Schurrle came on around the 17th minute mark and looked brilliant all night, grabbing Chelsea’s first just past the half hour. “Mou” then appeared content to let the game flow as it was, careful not to leave his side too vulnerable to the counter before such urgency was required.
With about 20 minutes to go, the Special One threw the kitchen sink and more at PSG, bringing on Demba Ba and Fernando Torres, and eventually it was the sheer number of bodies in and around the area which proved to be the French side’s undoing on the night.
2) Chelsea can win big games without Eden Hazard
Chelsea’s talisman, Eden Hazard has been by far the player of the season for the Blues. The Belgian winger just looks like he can make something special happen every time he gets on the ball.
On Tuesday night though, Hazard picked up a calf injury early on and was forced to go off, something which would have definitely helped the Parisian cause. Andre Schurrle came on in his place however, and more than compensated for Hazard’s absence, with a goal and a splendid performance in general.
This will give Chelsea fans hope for the run in this season, as Hazard is expected to be out for about two weeks.
3) PSG aren’t yet ready
They certainly have the players (even without Zlatan), and even more so the funds, but PSG just lack that bit of experience that it takes to proceed to the crunch stages of a competition as big as the Champions League.
With a massive advantage from the first leg, a more seasoned outfit should and probably would have been able to see out the tie, but the French side sat back and invited more and more pressure onto themselves, proving to be their own worst enemies at the end of the day.
Their own finishing lacked precision, and even a single goal on the night would have killed the tie, but on another night Chelsea could have had three or four themselves too. Back to the drawing board for Blanc and his men.
4)Madrid need to offload Pepe, and fast
Real Madrid have really looked like the team to beat, all through this year’s competition so far. However, last night they were exposed horribly, especially in defensive areas, and almost let slip what seemed to be an unassailable lead from the first leg.
Keplar Lima, better known as Pepe in the world of football and organised crime proved yet again that he is a weak and possibly fatal link in the Madrid side at the moment.
Sergio Ramos, his defensive partner, is temperamental enough, but having a player like Pepe playing alongside him certainly cannot help the situation.
Reus and Lewandowski ran rings around the pair on Tuesday, and had it not been for a magnificent performance by Iker Casillas, Madrid would have had to wait another year for having a crack at La Decima.
5) NO RONALDO, NO CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOR MADRID
Last night proved yet again, the sheer importance of Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid. With him in the side, they have as good a chance as any of lifting the trophy for the tenth time. Without him however, they seem only good enough to overcome say, a Real Sociedad.
Now while that’s all very well in the group stages of the competition, at this point in time no game is an easy game, that’s for certain. Madrid need Ronaldo back and firing for all the remaining games in the competition, if they wish to realise their La Decima dream this year.
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