The Champions League

The quarter finals of the Champions League was full of drama and controversy. From FC Barcelona being knocked out by Juventus, to Bayern Munich being outdone by controversial offside decisions, and a very soft second yellow card to Arturo Vidal. The quarter-finals of the Champions League also saw the fairytale run of the English champions Leicester city come to an end. The drama did not end there, as Borussia Dortmund were defeated at the Signal Iduna Park by AS Monaco after staying undefeated at their home stadium for almost 2 years. 

The first leg of the last eight was full of shocks. Juventus against all odds defeated FC Barcelona by 3 goals to nothing.     Barcelona had all to do in their home leg, but it turned out to be too much for them, as Juventus stayed resilient for 90 minutes thus, knocking Barcelona out of the Champions League. The main talking point was the big clash between last year’s champion Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. The first leg was played at Allianz Arena where Bayern Munich looked in control of the match from the first minute. The pressure they were putting on Madrid’s defence finally paid off as Arturo Vidal opened the scoring for them. All was going smooth, but it fell apart after javi martinez was shown a second yellow card.  Real Madrid capitalized on the man advantage and scored two crucial away goals. Now, all eyes were set on the return leg at Santiago Bernabeu. After a disappointing goaless first half, Bayern finally started creating good goal scoring chances and their pressure paid off as Arjen Robben was brought down by Casemiro in the 52nd minute. Robert lewandoski calmly outwitted Keylor Navas and scored from the penalty spot. Bayern needed just one more goal to qualify for the semi finals, but Ronaldo had other plans as he brought his side back to 1-1 with a crucial goal in the 76th minute. Bayern were in no mood to give up so early, and just minutes after Ronaldo’s goal, they forced an own goal by putting pressure on Madrid’s defence.  It was 2-1, and the match was all set to go to extra time, but it took a turn for the worse  as Bayern Munich’s Arturo Vidal was controversialy shown a second yellow card for his tackle on Asensio. The momentum had definitely shifted towards Real Madrid as they were a man up. The first half of the extra time saw another controversial decision go against Bayern Munich, as Cristiano Ronaldo scored his second of the match from an offside position. Bayern Munich players and fans felt hard done by the referee’s decision. There were some tired legs on the field for Bayern Munich, and it clearly showed in their second half performance as they conceded 2 more goals and were knocked out of the Champions League. Cristiano Ronaldo was the hero for Real Madrid on the night, as he scored a perfect hatrick. The tie finished 6-3 in the favour of Real Madrid. The other match saw the end of the dream for Leicester city as they were convincingly knocked out by last years runner up, Atletico Madrid. AS Monaco booked their place in the Semi finals after defeating Borussia Dortmund 6-3 over two legs. 

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo became the first man to score 100 goals in the UEFA  Champions League after scoring 5 goals in two legs against Bayern Munich. 


P.V Sindhu takes Revenge 

The India open world superseries final was a repeat of the Rio Olympics final, where India’s star badminton player P.V Sindhu faced Spain’s Carolina Marin. In their last encounter at the Rio Olympics Marin denied Sindhu an Olympic gold medal, overcoming her in a three set thriller. It was another final and a chance for Sindhu to redeem herself and defeat the world number 3. Sindhu had the whole nation cheering for her and she did not let them down, finishing the final in just 47 minutes. Sindhu looked confident from the first rally and capitalized on every mistake made by the Spaniard. The final, much to everyone’s surprise turned out to be a one sided encounter, as Sindhu dominated much of the match and finished it in straight sets (21-19, 21-16). It was Sindhu’s maiden India open world superseries title. The 21 year old Indian star has improved a lot since her defeat at the Rio Olympics, and  has now made it 5-5 in the head-to-head clashes between the shuttlers.

Invincible Team India 

The home season for the Indian cricket team has been an exhausting experience, but it has finally come to an end with the 2-1 test match series win over Australia. The home season for India began back in September 2016, when the kiwis toured India for a 3 match test series, followed by 5 ODI’s. The kiwis were convincingly thrashed in both the formats (3-0 in the test and 3-2 in the ODI’s). Ten days after the tiring series win over New Zealand, the Indian team was at it again. The English cricket team had come to india for a 5 match test series followed by 3 ODI’s and 3 t20’s, but there were no signs of fatigue as the Indian team ran past the England team, recording a 4-0 test match series win without even breaking a sweat. The good form continued in the ODI’s and the t20’s as well, as team India defeated England in all three formats. Kohli’s men had no time to rest, as just 8 days later the Bangladesh cricket team toured India for a one off test match. Team India had no intentions to drop their guard, and it showed in their performance as they eased past Bangladesh, beating them by 208 runs. 
However, the real challenge for team India was still to come. They still had to defeat Australia to prove that they were worthy of being the number 1 test nation in the world. India got off to the worst start possible in a 4 match test series, losing the first match by 333 runs. Virat Kohli’s men were taken a back by the defeat at Pune, but it did not crumble their confidence as they reacted positively, and bounced back right away in the second test match, winning it by 75 runs and leveling the series at 1-1. The 3rd test match was a hard fought battle, but ended in a draw and gave a blow to all the Indian fans as Virat Kohli was ruled out of the 4th test match following a shoulder injury. Now, all eyes were on the 4th and final test match. India, led by Ajinkya Rahane were on the front foot since day 1 as they managed to bowl out Australia for 300 runs on a good batting pitch, and the person responsible for this was the young debutant Kuldeep Yadav, who took 4 important wickets on day 1. The good bowling performance was met by an equally good batting performance by Ravindra Jadeja and Wriddhiman Saha, and their 96 run partnership gave India a valuable lead of 32 runs. India were again on the front foot as they managed to take early wickets and put pressure on the middle order. A good bowling performance by the indians saw the Australians crumble to a small total of 137 runs, with a lead of only 105 runs. India managed it with quite ease as they won the match and the series (2-1) by 8 wickets on the 4th day of the test match. 

It can be rightly said that team India were invincible this home season. However, the test series against Australia was the most challenging one. It was full of controversies, be it the Steve Smith’s DRS controversy, or Australian players making fun of Virat Kohli’s injury. Virat Kohli described it as the best test series win for India. 

Unbelievable. This is our best series win so far. I thought England was intense, but the way Australia gave us a fight, it was amazing on their part but our guys kept bouncing back,” Kohli said. Overall, this season has been outstanding. All these home series have been challenging one way or the other. “

Manchester city vs Liverpool

It was a fiesty Sunday night encounter which finished all square at the Ethiad Stadium. Pep Guardiola the manager of Manchester City defined it as “one of the best days” in his managerial career. 

“You cannot imagine. It is one of happiest days of my career as a manager. I am so proud. After the Champions League, the last few days at training people were so, so, sad, people don’t talk too much. We arrive here against Liverpool who have no Europe all season and one week to prepare. The spirit, how we played, it is one of my happiest days as a manager. We created more than them.Our problem is we don’t score when they are easy goals. At least we showed spirit that we didn’t show in the first half in Monaco. When you approach one game after 10 games winning nothing is special.You have to consider the situation we played this game, how we played against them, a top team – they have exceptional players – means a lot to me. That is why I am so happy.”

Manchester City started the match on the front foot by dominating the ball, and creating a lot of chances. However, they could not capitalize on the chances created. As the match progressed Liverpool finally showed up, and started creating chances of their own. Sadio Mane was rightly denied a penalty, and Adam Lallana’s shot was well saved by Willy Caballero in the dying moments of the first half. 

Liverpool came out in the second half with more aggressiveness, and were awarded a penatly in the 50th minute, when Firmino was brought down by Clichy with a desperate tackle to redeem himself. James Milner came up to take the penalty and scored, making it 1-0 to Liverpool. Chasing the game wasn’t easy for Manchester City as they were constantly giving away the ball in the midfield, and were being hit on the counter attack. As the match was heading towards the end, Manchester city were slowly coming back in the match. They were putting pressure on Liverpool’s defence, with fast and decisive passing. The pressure finally paid off when Kevin De Bruyne’s whipped ball across the penatly area from the right flank was met by Sergio Aguero in the 69th minute making it 1-1. Manchester City were on a high clearly creating more chances in the dying stages of the match, however Liverpool were still a threat on the counter attack. Adam lallana in the 81st minute had the chance to win it for Liverpool but he scuffed his shot and missed with only the keeper to beat from 6 yards out. The match ended 1-1 with both teams creating a lot of chances, but failing to capitalize. 

Jurgen Klopp was satisfied with his team’s performance but said that he felt his team could have won.

“To get a point at Manchester City for each team in the world is absolutely OK. There were a few situations where we couldn’t defend their quality. We could have won this game, because we forced the goalkeeper into a few outstanding saves.We a phase between 50-70 where we had them and didn’t close the game. We let them recover on the pitch, so they came back.They deserved the goal, but we could have scored more. Two highly motivated sides, both wanted to win until the last seconds.”

The European quarter-finals

The draw for the quarter-finals of both the European tournaments took place at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday, 17th March. There are some very intriguing fixtures, with one being the repeat of 2015’s final. 

UEFA Champions League 

The first leg will be played on the 11th and 12th of April, and the second leg on the 18th and 19th of April. 

UEFA Europa League

The first leg of this year’s UEFA Europa League will take place on the 13th of April, with the second leg being on the 20th of April. 

Manchester United go through 

Manchester United made it tough for themselves in a match they dominated from the word go, but in the end 1 goal was all they needed to defeat FC Rostov and book their place in the last eight of the Europa league. Manchester United enjoyed most of the ball in the first half and created a lot of chances, but couldn’t capitalize. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was denied twice by the goal post, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s finish was not upto the mark, as he saw his chance go wide of the goal. The first half came to an end with both teams failing to score. 

Manchester United began the second half just like they finished the first. Then catastrophe hit Manchester United as Paul Pogba pulled up (Hamstring), adding to the growing injury list. The loss of Pogba definitely showed in Manchester United’s performance as they struggled to keep the ball, and create chances. Fc Rostov were starting to get into the game, but in the 70th minute they lost the ball in the midfield, and United for the first time on the night took their chance and scored. A low driven ball by Henrikh Mkhitaryan deflected by Ibrahimovic and then clinically finished by Juan Mata. The Spaniard was at the right place at the right time. 

Manchester United’s busy run of fixtures seemed to have taken a toll on them as they looked sloppy in the final moments of the game. Bananas were being passed to Marcos Rojo who clearly needed some carbs to finish the game. All of these antics payed off as they saw the match through, and booked their place in the last eight. 

Jose Mourinho confirmed that Paul Pogba won’t be available for the match against Middlesbrough on Sunday. 

Manchester United now face Anderlecht in the quarter finals of the Europa league. The first leg will be played on 13th April at Constant Vanden Stock Stadium and the second leg on the 20th of April, at Old Trafford. 

Manchester City fall short

Manchester city’s champions league run comes to an end following their 3-1 defeat to AS Monaco. Taking a two goal lead and conceding 3 home goals was never going to be enough to dismantle AS Monaco at Stade louis II. Manchester city got off to the worst start possible by conceding a goal 7 minutes into the match. Things took a turn for the worse when they conceded the second goal in the 29th minute, a very well crafted move finished by Fabinho. As things stood, AS Monaco would go through to the last eight of the champions league on away goals, but Manchester city finally showed up in the second half, grabbing a very crucial goal in the 70th minute (scored by Sane). One goal was all city needed to win the tie, but Monaco hit back right away scoring the deciding goal in the 77th minute, and ending the tie at 6-6. The three goals scored at the Etihad stadium turned out to be handy, as AS Monaco went through to the last eight on away goals.

The draw for the last eight of the champions league will take place at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday, 17th March.