We saw two exciting games of football in the Champions League last night. Borussia Dortmund beat PSG 2-1 at home, while Atletico Madrid earned a precious 1-0 lead over Liverpool. The results pretty much leave both ties in the balance until the second leg.
In the meantime, there are five important things we learned on Tuesday.
Erling Haaland Can Do It in the Biggest Stage
We’ve known that Erling Haaland is a talented striker for a while. He scored a ton of goals in Austria, but we’ve seen other players that were prolific in such leagues that have failed to deliver the same on a higher level.
Well, Haaland’s first several games for Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga showed that he could be an excellent scorer in one of Europe’s top football leagues.
And yet, many could say that he is playing for a strong team that creates a ton of chances and the opponents he faced were far from impressive. I mean, it was possible to find some arguments that his achievements were not that stunning.
I don’t think anyone could do that after Tuesday night. The boy scored a brace and broke several more records. He rose to the occasion and showed his worth in the biggest competition in the world, against one of the best teams in the world.
His second goal, in particular, was a thing of beauty. The hype around Erling Haaland is real and I certainly wish he stays fit, so we can see how good the youngster can become. What a player!
PSG’s Lack of Domestic Competition Is Hurting the Team
The squad of PSG is full of excellent players in every position. The quality is most certainly there and yet, the French club has somehow failed to win or even reach the UEFA Champions League final in the past several years.
This has been the dream of the fans, the players, and the board for a while. You could say that luck played a part at times, but it’s more than that.
I believe that the lack of resistance in the French League is hurting PSG badly. We saw how the team failed to perform under pressure and one of the reasons is that this is a team that is not used to play under pressure.
Almost every game in the domestic competitions can be won without too much effort. Even if there is the occasional draw or defeat, the gap between PSG and the rest is so big that it doesn’t even matter.
That’s not how you build winning mentality and you can tell. The French champions might eliminate Borussia Dortmund, but I don’t think they can go all the way.
Neymar Is Not the Same Player
There’s little doubt that Neymar is still one of the most technically gifted footballers in the world. The Brazilian forward has excellent technique, but every time I watched him this season, he’s looked slower than he used to be.
He flops way too often, he sometimes keeps the ball too much, and he’s not physically at his best. I’m not sure if the reason is related to his desire to leave, the injuries at the start of the season or something else.
It’s probably a combination of factors, but I don’t think that Neymar is among the best players in the world right now.
Atletico Madrid Is Still a Force in Knockout Formats
Many expected more from Atletico Madrid in the Spanish La Liga this season. The team has failed to mount a title challenge and even the spot in the top 4 is in danger. The lack of goals has been the main reason why Atletico suffers domestically.
And yet, the team beat the best side in the world right now. The atmosphere at the stadium was electric, Atletico’s ability to defend suffocated Liverpool, and there was the usual element of nastiness that Diego Simeone installed ever since his arrival as a head coach.
Despite all the issues in the Spanish league, Atletico Madrid remains a dreadful opponent in Europe. Liverpool is still the slight favorite, in my opinion, but the second match will be a battle from the very first minute.
Liverpool Is Not Invincible
There’s little doubt that the current Liverpool team is one of the best in the history of the game. That sounds like an extreme statement, but the performance of the club in the English Premier League, the Champions League titles from last year and the dominant style can’t be denied.
Jurgen Klopp has built a machine and most opponents go on the pitch knowing they have no chance. I believe one of the best signs of greatness is the fear of the opposition. That sense that you are doomed and there’s nothing you can do about it.
That’s what happens in most matches, but that doesn’t mean that Liverpool is unbeatable. Atletico Madrid showed that with the right attitude, you can make the Reds bleed too.
You obviously can’t stop this team in a league format, but anything is possible in one or two games. I think that’s a good warning sign for Klopp and his players too.
If there was any doubt that they will have to work hard to retain the Champions League title, it’s gone now.
I must admit I’m buzzing and it’s only been two games from Champions League knockouts! Just imagine how much action it’s left between now and the final in May.
I will continue following most of the matches and sharing my opinion, so make sure to check our site every now and then for more pieces like this one.