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  Sports   Football  18 Mar 2017  CL Round of 16 will be remembered for comeback wins

CL Round of 16 will be remembered for comeback wins

THE ASIAN AGE. | NOVY KAPADIA
Published : Mar 18, 2017, 2:42 am IST
Updated : Mar 18, 2017, 6:39 am IST

The only English club to reach the last eight are Leicester City languishing in the bottom half of the Premiership.

Monaco recovered from a 3-5 first leg deficit to win 3-1 against Manchester City in the second leg. (Photo: AFP)
 Monaco recovered from a 3-5 first leg deficit to win 3-1 against Manchester City in the second leg. (Photo: AFP)

Big money does not always lead to success. At the start of this season the Premiership clubs, splurged in the transfer market boosted by a record £5.136 billion domestic TV deal. Yet history repeated itself. In round 16 of the prestigious Uefa Champions League, both Arsenal and Manchester City have been eliminated. The only English club to reach the last eight are Leicester City languishing in the bottom half of the Premiership.

Last season, Manchester City were England’s sole representatives in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and this time it is Leicester City. In contrast there are three teams from Spain, two from Germany and one each from Italy and France. It just shows that the Premiership is a great business model but is not really helping in improving football standards.

The round of 16 this season will be always remembered for great comeback wins. Barcelona recovered from a 0-4 humiliation in the first leg to Paris St. Germain to win their home tie 6-1 and progress.

Leading 3-1 till minutes before the final whistle at the Camp Nou, Barcelona were on the verge of elimination. Then Neymar’s individual brilliance, a free-kick, a penalty and a measured pass led to three quick goals as the PSG defence capitulated under immense pressure. It is the greatest comeback in the history of European club football but there will always be a tinge of doubt about this victory.

Did Luis Suarez dive to get the penalty kick in added time that enabled Neymar to make the score 5-1?

Also PSG’s wrong tactics of back-pedalling and inept supervision led to a bizarre match. Barcelona got two penalty kicks in the match, a somewhat dubious free kick minutes before the final whistle that Neymar converted and an own goal. History will record this as the greatest comeback but it was not a great match as there many doubtful decisions. The best comeback was at the compact Stade Louis II where Monaco magic prevailed. They recovered from a 3-5 first leg deficit to win 3-1 against big money spenders Manchester City, and advanced to the quarter finals on away goals. Monaco played exhilarating attacking football in the first half and led 2-0. Manchester City did not have a shot at goal till the 62nd minute and stars like Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bryune and David Silva were not given any space by Monaco to initiate moves.

In the 71st minute, Leroy Sane scored for Manchester City and if this score-line remained the English club would have progressed to the next round. In hindsight it can be said that at this stage Guardiola should have introduced another defensive midfielder like Yaya Toure to partner Fernandinho and asked his back four not to play a high line.

However, Guardiola continued with his high pressing tactics and within six minutes Monaco went 3-1 ahead through midfielder Tiemoue Bakayako’s header off a free kick. Manchester City’s marking was woeful. Rigidity in tactics by Guardiola and defensive frailty cost Manchester City this match.

The question being asked now is Guarodiola the best manager in the world or did he during his Barcelona stint just coach the best players in the world?

Tags: manchester city, leicester city, uefa champions league