After a longer hiatus than usual, the Champions League returned in February, as the knockout stages of Europe’s top prize began. Each night brought a different story, and with each moment, we drew closer as to who would be moving to the Quarter Finals and who would be exiting.
No Enzo Fernandez, no problem as far as it’s concerned for Benfica, who carried on their impressive Champions League campaign with a 2-0 victory away from home against Belgian outfit Club Brugge. Punters at LeoVegas sports are tipping them to progress to the next round, and the contrasting form of some of the other teams remaining in the competition means they might even be tipped to go one further.
Going into the tie, the match was seen as a potential banana skin for Benfica, as Club Brugge had already earned impressive wins over Porto, Atletico Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen to earn their place in the knockout stages, but Benfica showed no signs of worry. With 14 shots compared to their opponent’s four, the Portuguese club enjoyed a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Joao Mario and David Neres, putting them more or less in the next round. However, Roger Schmidt will have to be wary, as Club Brugge enjoyed a 4-0 battering of Porto on their last trip to Portugal.
Following the game, midfielder, Chiquinho, Benfica midfielder, offered his thought’s on the battle,
“We’re very pleased. We knew it was going to be a difficult game, and we didn’t start very well, but after 15 minutes, we took over. We had several opportunities, and in the end, we are rightful winners. It is a very important victory. The first leg is done, but the second game will not be easy – we have to focus on that.”
After an almost perfect group stage campaign, Napoli were paired up against last season’s Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt in what promised to be an exciting game.
Could Napoli keep up their amazing form? Of course, they could.
A missed penalty from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia was given a chance to fire his side in front from the spot, but he was denied by Frankfurt’s Kevin Trapp.
However, the Serie A champions-elect didn’t have to wait much longer for a goal as moments later, one of the hottest strikers in Europe at the moment, Victor Osimhen, fired his side in front just before half-time.
A second-half goal from full-back Giovanni Di Lorenzo was enough to seal an important 2-0 away victory for Napoli, who are in danger of changing their status from dark horses to front runners.
Gli Azzurri lead the way in Italy by 18 points, and having such a healthy lead in Serie A gives them a chance to put maximum effort into hunting down a first-ever Champions League triumph.
After the Knockout stage draw back in November, one of the standout ties saw Liverpool take on Real Madrid, a repeat of the 2022 Champions League final.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool has only ever suffered Champions League exits at the hands of Madrid clubs (once by Atletico Madrid and three times by Real Madrid.)
After 14 minutes, it looked like the trend could be set to end, when Darwin Nunez and Mohammed Salah fired The Reds into a two-goal lead, however, As we saw several times in 2022, Carlo Ancelotti’s Real can never be written off and what followed will be a night to remember for all Los Blancos fans.
A brace from Vinícius Júnior saw the Spanish side draw level at half-time.
Éder Militão took advantage of some sloppy Liverpool defending at a free-kick to put Real in the lead. Before a Karim Benzema brace gave them a famous 5-2 victory at Anfield.