Wednesday, April 6, 2016

It Happened in Europe: Atletico score away goal, Benfica his Bayern to one on the road

Barcelona 2-1 Atlético Madrid
The all Spain clash at the Camp Nou was far less predictable than the one over in Germany. The top two teams in Spain were expected to entertain us over the next two legs, that's for sure. Early on, Atletico was comfortable allowing Barcelona to play on the ball. This strategy worked out quite well for them, too. Fernando Torres was able to slip through the smallest of holes in the Barcelona defense to collect a huge 25th minute away goal.  But Torres would not be around to celebrate his accomplishment for long. He picked up a pair of yellow cards within ten minutes of the goal and got himself sent off. The chippy atmosphere carried on through the first half. As Atletico curled up into their shell, they were able to keep Barca off the board before halftime.

Barcelona came out with guns blazing in the second half. Within the first ten minutes of the restart, they came close to scoring on multiple occasions. Once was on an overhead kick by Messi that only went a couple feet wide of the goal. Minutes alter, Neymar blasted a shot off the crossbar. These chances did eventually pay off. Luis Suarez got them on the board in the 63rd and he doubled the lead 11 minutes later. That would sum up the scoring in this really hearted match that featured nine yellow cards between the two sides.

Overall, Atletico will take this result. They got an away goal and only lost by 1. Not that a 1-0 victory will be easy in the home leg, especially without Torres, but it's not all that hard to accomplish in the end.

Bayern Munich 1-0 Benfica
Bayern Munich probably has one of the easier paths to the semi-finals. They were drawn against Portugal's Benfica, who are relative minnows as far as this stage of the competition is concerned. As a result, this match in Munich was expected to be a blowout and Arturo Vidal began to fulfill that expectation right off the kickoff. He was left relatively unmarked to reach a second minute cross for and headed home an easy opening goal. Benfica did manage to settle down after that, though. They probably should have had a penalty for a handball in the box, too, but the referee decided not to call the cross that hit a Bayern defender's arm on it's way through the penalty area.

Bayern threatened, but couldn't score anymore, which was sort of disappointing for them. Benfica will surely accept this result heading back home. It gives them a realistic shot of pulling off the upset.

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