The champions league has proven to be the biggest club competition on earth over the years. The sound of the anthem alone is something every player dream to experience in his career.
This competition has created a reputation for itself as a competition with a lot of surprises in its pockets which is because of how teams widely tipped to progress or even win the competition crumble at the knees of those who were doubted or those with the odds stacked up against them.
This competition demands pedigree to survive and possibly win it and so without it, a team is a just cog in the operation.
This year’s edition of the champions league has seen surprises unfold at many fronts but the first round of the round of 16 which was just wrapped up last week Tuesday and Wednesday saw so many more surprises unfold;
Where Ajax of Amsterdam after losing 2-1 to Real Madrid at the Johan Crujiff Arena (named after legend Johan Crujiff) formerly Amsterdam Arena, defied all odds against them and went to the Bernabeu- the home of the three consecutive times champions
league winners and defending champions, Real Madrid- and pulled off one of the greatest come backs in the history of the competition by beating Real Madrid 4-1 and qualifying ahead of the White Angels, 5-3 on aggregates.
Tottenham went to the Signal Iduna Park (also known as the Westfalenstadion) in Dortmund to beat Dortmund in front of one of the loudest fans in the world 1-0 after
thrashing them 3-0 at the Wembley Stadium in the first leg of the round of 16 to qualify ahead of Der BVB 4-0 on aggregates. Out of the teams that pulled off the comebacks,
Dortmund was the only club to lose both legs of the game.
On Wednesday, the Ajax comeback was something Manchester United fans hoped they could pull off and it seemed that it was all lost because the team was so depleted that
after the first eleven, three academy graduates had to be added to make up for the 18-man squad. Going into the second leg at the Parc des Princess on the back of a 2-0 loss, The Red Devils had a mountain to climb to turn around the two goal deficit. Man Utd
pulled off an inspirational comeback by beating PSG 3-1on the night ensuring their qualification on away goals after the 3-3 aggregates score line.
FC Porto also staged an impressive comeback against AS Roma- last year semi-finalists- by beating them 3-1 in front of their fans at the Estadio do Dragoa. The Dragoes
qualified ahead of I Giallorossi 4-3 on aggregates after losing 2-1 away at the Stadio Olympico in Rome in the first leg.
The champions league returns this week and this competition as we all know is packed with surprises. The big question on every one’s mind is, will it be a repeat of last week or this time around there will be new surprises maybe even bigger than last week’s?
Will La Vecchia Signora, Juventus, led by the greatest player to grace this competition, Christiano Ronaldo, pull off a remarkable comeback and turn around the two goal deficit of the first leg conceded at the Wanda Metropolitano at the hands Los Rojiblancos, Athletico Madrid, and qualify ahead of Diego Simeone’s men and their resolute defense and quick counter attack of Diego Godin and Jose Maria Giminez for the defensive duties and Antoine Griezmann and Alvaro Moratta for the attack at the Allianz Stadium?
Will Liverpool with their free flowing attack consisting of Sadio Mane, Mohammed Salah and Roberto Firminho, be able to bring their A-game on the night and book their place in
the last eight of the competition after the goalless draw at Anfield against the Bavarians, Bayern Munich, or Will the Bavarians led by Robert Lewandowski, who are on an incredible form and are top of the Bundesliga finally, after losing the seat to rivals Der BVB, Borrussia Dortmund, be able to show Liverpool who is boss at their own backyard?
Will the Catalan giants, FC Barcelona, led by Lionel Messi be able to book their place in
the last eight of the competition at the expense of Les Gones, Lyon, in front of the home fans at the Camp Nou after their goalless draw at the Groupama Stadium at Lyon or Will Lyon with their youthful side and promising attack of Memphis Depay, Nabil Fekir, Bertrand Traore and Moussa Dembele be able to pull a rabbit out of the bag and stun the Catalans in front of their faithfuls the same way Ajax did Madrid?
Finally, will Manchester City led by Sergio Aguero, Rahim Sterling and old boy of Schalke- Leroy Sane- join their neighbors- Manchester United- in the last eight of the competition by beating Schalke O4 after winning by a single goal margin of 3-2 in the
first leg at the Veltins-Arena in Germany or will the Die Konigsblauen led by Breel Embolo, Burgstaller and Nabil Bentaleb be able to invade the Etihad and send Manchester City out of the competition?
Football loving fans and fans of these teams are at the edge of their seats waiting patiently for the drama to unfold before their eyes. Until the final whistle, we look into the glaring face of time.
By: Abdullah Salif/Hypercitigh.com