The Champions League group stages are now well and truly behind us with the last round of fixtures throwing interesting results here and there but overall the expected overwhelmed the unexpected even if the results went haywire in the penultimate matchday.
The biggest surprise was Manchester City loss which comes before the derby that could derail the momentum but the result was meaningless in the context of the tournament, thus eyebrows shouldn’t be raised in the Sky Blue half.
Biggest Winners: A. S. Roma
Rome is rejuvenated with relishing results which not only see them through to the knockout stages in a tough group but they also secure the top spot which will delight the fans. Their performance especially against Chelsea over the two legs was praiseworthy. The likes of Dzeko and El Sharawy who were deemed to have been past their prime have responded quite emphatically with sensational stuff.
Biggest Losers: Napoli
Napoli has been flying in Seria A, they have been up and down in Europe though and the defeat against Feyenoord was a killer blow to their qualification aspirations with the Ukranian side pulling up an upset of the week against Manchester City. Napoli’s nexus got naïve and lost the narrative in a relatively easy group considering they were in great form.
Biggest Casualty – Atletico Madrid
Now, this is a shock alright. Atletico over the year have been punching above their weight, the baggage finally got to them striking right in the face of Simeone and his team to knock them out in the group stages. We have been accustomed to seeing them slug it out against big teams in knockout games frustrating and eventually defeating them in the process. We’ll definitely miss antics symbolic Simeone throwing shades on the sidelines.
Best Team: Tottenham Hotspur
It was a comprehensive win for the top of the table Tottenham who surprisingly won the group of death finishing ahead of the mighty Real Madrid. The result was a given but the manner in which they dismantled their opponents stated that the Spurs left no scope for the sniff. They have been hot and cold in recent times. It should be interesting to see if they have the will to stand up during the knockout stages.
|Total shots (on target)||Accurate Passes||Accurate Passing %||Shots Conceded (on target)|
Best Player: Corentin Tolisso
It was a commanding display from Corentin Tolisso who came up with a telling performance against the powerful PSG that can be seen in his stats. 95.5% passing accuracy, 6 long ball attempts, all executed perfectly plus add to it 3 shots with 2 hitting the back of the net.
I don’t want to put the onus on the youngster but his gameplay is quite similar to Vidal both in terms of physicality and technique. The late runs from midfield merge the awareness and intelligent side of his play with skillful finishing that can foster a forceful product.
Worst Player: Dani Alves
Dani Alves was a mess in Munich at the back. He was very much responsible for the first goal playing Lewandoski on side unnecessarily. Bayern wingers helped themselves into loads of spaces in the flanks with awful marking and tackling from the fullback.
He worked and improved his defensive aspect of the game a lot last season with Juventus, suddenly the flamboyant Samba influence is diminishing his defensive display which is an important requisite for adventurous and ambitious Paris Saint Germain.
Best Manager: Jupp Heynckes
The return of hailed Heynckes has brought optimism back at the helm. We are once again witnessing the Vintage Bayern running rampage from the flanks with the powerful central midfielders bossing the midfield. The system suits the personnel effectively that has also brought solidarity to the back.
Honorable Mention: Raphael Wicky
Raphael has raised the bar at Basel who was belligerent in the group stages to qualify for the knockouts.
Best Match: Real Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund (3-2)
A perfect match that bid farewell to the group stages of the 2017-18 Uefa Champions League campaign. Hard pressing, tenacious tackling, mindful movement and to top it scintillating finishes especially that second goal from Christiano Ronaldo.
Two goals from Madrid upfront followed by a comeback of sorts from out of sorts Dortmund and then Lucas Vazquez scored a decisive goal in the telling stages to settle the tie once and for all. The open nature of the game provided enough excitement for the neutrals.