Athletico Madrid have progressed to the semi finals of the Champions league after they defeated defending champions Barcelona 2-0 at the Vincente Calderon.
The game started on a very tense pace as Barcelona tried dominating the game but they were basically restricted to playing in their own half.Barcelona’s trio of Messi,Suarez and Neymar hardly found the ball and even when they did,they were always swammed by Athletico madrid who never gave them space to operate with the ball in a defence led by Diego Godin.
They only needed one goal to qualify and it came 10 minutes before the break with Jordi Alba turning with the ball at his feet down by the corner flag and playing a sloppy pass infield that Atletico’s pack of hungry wolves pounced on. It was Saul Niguez who got to the ball first and from his cross Griezmann headed past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.Barcelona came on in the second half with a patient build up but it was the same old story as they passed the ball around without penetration as all eleven Atletico players hassled and tussled for every ball.Saul headed the first second-half chance onto the bar from a corner to almost score the second goal as Atletico kept pouring forward.Barcelona fans who were anticipating for some moments of brilliance from Messi had to keep waiting as their star man was totally subdued.
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Barcelona then made a tactical move,turning Gerard Pique to a centre forward,thereby leaving gaps at the back which Atletico’s forward players, Griezmann and Carrasco were exploiting.They replaced Alves and Rakitic with Sergi Roberto and Arda Turan and as much as they tried,they couldn’t break down a resilient Atletico Madrid team.Then came the second goal,Atletico broke on the counter with Felipe Luis,who sent the ball to a waiting Griezmann but Iniesta had other ideas,he spread his hand to block the ball in the box and Atletico were awareded a penalty which was dispersed by Griezmann.Barcelona also appealed for a penalty after the ball appeared to have struck Gabi’s hand in the box,but the refree awarded only a free-kick which Messi fired just over the bar.
Bayern Munich also qualified for the next round after drawing 2-2 against Benfica in Portugal.Benfica opened the scoring in the first half through Mexican striker Jimenez who ghosted inbetween Alaba and Martinez to power a header past Manuel Neuer but Bayern equalized before the end of the first half after Arturo Vidal scored after the Porto goalkeeper punched out a Phillip Lahm cross.
It didn’t take too long for Bayern to go ahead in the second half though,as a Xavi Alonso corner was knocked down by Javi Martinez to Muller who slotted into an empty net.Talisca though curled in a wonderful free kick to equalize for Benfica later in the game but Bayern held on to qualify for the next round.
History was made though in the quarterr finals as it was the first time in Champions League history,all the quarter finals clash would be ending in a particular scoreline,3-2.On friday,the draws for the semi-finals would be made and it would be interesting to see the semi-final matchups between all four qualifiers Atletico Madrid,Bayern Munich,Manchester City and Real Madrid.