Heavyweight knockouts: when giants collide in last 16 – UEFA Champions League – News
The UEFA Champions Leagoue round of 16 is usually a bridge between the group stage and the high-stakes tussles from the quarter-finals onwards.
Still seeded, the opening knockout round usually pits highly-fancied group winners against less vaunted runners-up, with few ties between two pre-tournament favourites. But not always: Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain’s last-16 meeting is as prestigious as it comes. We look back at other match-ups which ensured big-name casualties before the end of March.
2016/17: Paris Saint-Germain 4-0/1-6 Barcelona (agg: 5-6)
Paris, unbeaten in the group stage, were being tipped for a first UEFA Champions League title last season when they took on Spanish giants, and their backers were hardly discouraged when two Ángel Di María goals helped them to a seemingly impregnable lead after the first leg.
Barcelona gave it a good go but were only 3-1 up 88 minutes into the second leg, three goals shy. But then Neymar went to work, reducing the deficit with a superb curling free-kick, converting a penalty won by Luis Suárez then, five minutes into added time, setting up Sergi Roberto for an unlikely winner. Neymar, of course, will be in Paris colours against Madrid.
2015/16: Juventus 2-2/2-4aet Bayern München (agg: 4-6)
Juve had not conceded at home in their group and had let in only seven in their 18 Turin matches all season, but Bayern were two up 55 minutes into the first leg and the Bianconeri were fortunate to level the tie.
In the return Juve streaked into an early two-goal lead only to come unstuck in the last 17 minutes, Robert Lewandowski pulling one back before Thomas Müller headed an added-time equaliser. Substitutes Thiago Alcántara and, on loan from Juve, Kingsley Coman won it for Bayern in extra time.
2012/13: Real Madrid 1-1/2-1 Manchester United (agg: 3-2)
“The match the world wanted to see,” according to José Mourinho as he went up against future club United in what turned out to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s final European tie. It was a former United player, one Cristiano Ronaldo, who cancelled out Danny Welbeck’s first-leg opener, before Madrid-born David de Gea held firm.
Advantage United, except that Mourinho didn’t get where he was that day without last-16 successes at Old Trafford (think Porto 2004). Despite a first-half Sergio Ramos own goal at Old Trafford, Madrid surged back after Nani’s red card thanks to substitute Luka Modrić and, naturally, Ronaldo.
2010/11: Internazionale Milano 0-1/3-2 Bayern München (agg: 3-3, Inter win on away goals)
A year on from meeting in the final, Inter (pipped in their group by a Gareth Bale-inspired Tottenham Hotspur) took on Bayern again, and revenge for the German team looked on the cards when Mario Gomez got the solitary goal in the 90th minute in Milan.
Only once before in a UEFA Champions League knockout tie had a team gone through after losing a home first leg, but Inter were not letting go of their title easily and although Samuel Eto’o’s early goal was quickly trumped by Gomez and Müller, Wesley Sneijder and, two minutes from time, Goran Pandev, ensured Bayern hearts were broken again.
2006/07: Barcelona 1-2/1-0 Liverpool (agg: 2-2, Liverpool win on away goals)
The previous two winners went head to head, and like in all the ties listed here, there was very little between them. In the first leg Deco gave Barcelona an early lead and they were all over Liverpool, only for Víctor Valdés to carry a Craig Bellamy header over his own line; the Wales striker later set up John Arne Riise’s winner. Eidur Gudjohnsen scored with 15 minutes left at Anfield but unlike for Inter four years later, away goals went against Barcelona.