The first half of the champions league round of 16 has been concluded and as always, we were treated to amazing football. The most interesting game was definitely Real Madrid’s dominance at Anfield. Can Liverpool do the unthinkable in the Bernabeu in two weeks? Time will tell. However, let’s focus on the key moments we saw in the first half of the RO16.

Napoli’s strong Domestic form continues in Europe

Runaway Serie A leaders Napoli won the second away game of the evening against 10-man Europa League title holders, Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany, solidifying their position as tournament underdogs. Victor Osimhen and Giovanni Di Lorenzo each scored once as Napoli easily defeated their opponent 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 match. Luciano Spalletti’s men made a Champions League knockout encounter look like a walk in the park as they looked a level above their opponents.  The top team in the Serie A has now scored 78 goals across all competitions. Victor Osimhen, a Nigerian who has scored 20 goals so far this season, is in the form of his life right now. His goal on Tuesday night made sure his scoring streak of five games turned into six and also took him up to 10 goals for the year. You shouldn’t bet against Osimhen firing Napoli into the later stages of this competition because he can hurt any team, anywhere.

This is Anfield. So what?

In a game filled with goalkeeping gaffes, Liverpool gave up a two-goal lead as Real Madrid smashed five goals past their rivals to take control of their Champions League last-16 match. On Tuesday night, Mohammed Salah set a new club record as Liverpool’s all-time top scorer in the Champions League, but there was also a record broken that no one connected to Liverpool will care to remember. Their biggest home loss in Europe is this one. Liverpool quickly took a two-goal lead, but a brilliant Real Madrid performance overcame them. The English club suffered its previous worst home defeat at the hands of the 14-time Champions League champions (3-0 in 2014). You have to wonder what Allison Becker was doing the entire night in a game where Los Blancos had an xG of 1.66 but scored 5 goals.

Manchester City disappointing in the Champions League AGAIN!

If Manchester City players were once again experiencing that sinking Champions League feeling, they would only be human. In order to keep the tie equally balanced going into the second leg at the Etihad, RB Leipzig pulled one back on Manchester City. As was to be expected, City dominated possession and territory in the opening period and broke through when Mahrez curled a shot from the edge of the box into the bottom corner thanks to a brilliant dummy from Ilkay Gundogan. However, the Bundesliga team significantly improved in the second period, applying pressure on City and driving their English opponents back into their territory. Pep Guardiola is without a doubt a brilliant individual, and like most people, he has annoying flaws. If ever a team needed a boost of tenacity and creativity to ignite the game, this was it, and while Marco Rose made four substitutions in the opposing dugout, Guardiola never once used his bench. It was a perplexing decision to let Phil Foden and Julián Alvarez play with their laces when his team lacked ideas and control and desperately needed a goal. Riyad Mahrez, who has developed into a dependable asset for the Cityzens in the champions league stages, is one player from City who could leave this game with his head held high.

Is Big Rom back?

Romelu Lukaku started the match between Inter and Porto on the bench, and Beppe Marotta, the club’s chief executive, was direct in explaining why before the game “Romelu has 103kg (227lbs) to carry. He must be physically fit and he isn’t yet 100% fit,” Marotta explained. “He’s getting back to his best form.”  That turned out to be both a firm warning and a prediction, as the Chelsea loanee came off the bench to score the game-winning goal, displaying quick thinking after his initial shot hit the post. For the first time since May 2022, Lukaku has now scored in back-to-back matches.


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