Champions League features world’s top clubs & players

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The UEFA Champions League has been one of the most prestigious soccer tournaments in the world since 1955. Each year, the top European clubs face off in the tournament, organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). The biggest clubs in the world compete, and with them, the greatest players of today.

After advancing through the qualifying, playoff, and group stages, sixteen teams were left to face each other. After the round of sixteen, only eight remained to play in the quarterfinals. These eight teams were Borussia Dortmund, Malaga CF, Galatasary AS, Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain FC, Juventus, and FC Bayern Munchen, representing five European nations.

Each matchup is played twice during the quarterfinals, each team playing once at home and once away. The winner is then selected through aggregate, or the team that scored the most goals within the two games. Away goals are worth more than goals scored at home, and this is sometimes used as a tiebreaker if the aggregate is equal. For example, in the round of sixteen, FC Arsenal and FC Bayern met twice. Bayern won the first game 3-1, which was played at Arsenal, and Arsenal won the second game 2-0, which was played in Munich. The aggregate was tied at 3-3, but since Bayern scored 3 away goals and Arsenal only scored 2 away goals, Bayern advanced to the quarterfinals.

“It’s not the fairest aspect of any sport, but in the Champions League it makes the most sense. Away goals are harder to score than home goals,” said senior Khalid Abdin.

Also regarding the away-goal-rule, senior Jeremy Fedus said, “It’s an uneven rule for uneven ground.”

On April 2, Barcelona went to Paris to play against PSG, which resulted in a 2-2 draw. PSG’s first goal, scored by Ibrahimovic, caused controversy because when the ball was played, Ibrahimovic was in an offside position and the linesman did not call it.

“It was a clear offsides but referees do make mistakes. It’s part of the game,” said Khalid. PSG scored their second goal in the third minute of stoppage time in the second half, which was also the last minute of the game. Messi and Xavi scored for Barcelona, and since both of their goals were away goals, Barcelona emerged on the winning side of the 2-2 draw. The teams met again in Barcelona on April 10, which resulted in another draw, this time ending at 1-1. Barcelona advanced to the semifinals, having scored more away goals. This is the sixth consecutive year in which Barcelona has reached the semifinals of the Champions League, which is the all-time record.

“Barcelona will be the champions of Europe because they play the best soccer and the chips are all falling in place. Messi is super-human; he’ll recover,” said Jeremy.

Also on April 2, Bayern defeated Juventus 2-0 in Munich in the first leg of the matchup. The first goal came in the first minute of the game, when David Alaba took a shot from long range, which took a deflection and caught Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon off guard. Thomas Muller scored again for Bayern in the 63rd minute to seal the victory at home. “After Bayern’s match against Juventus, I think they are the clear cut favorite to win the Champion’s League,” said senior Adam Strumpf. Bayern made it to the Champions League final last year and were the favorites to win, but they lost to Chelsea FC in penalty shootouts. Bayern and Juventus played again on April 10 as well, which yielded the same result. Bayern scored twice and left Juventus with a clean sheet, moving Bayern to the semifinals.

On April 3, Malaga played against Dortmund in its own city, which ended in a 0-0 draw, and Real Madrid played Galatasaray in Madrid. Madrid dominated Galatasaray in a 3-0 victory, where Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Gonzalo Higuain all scored for their home side.

“I want Real to win, but I think Bayern is going to win because they are the hottest team right now. They’re in form,” said Khalid.

On April 9, Malaga traveled to Germany to play against Dortmund. Malaga scored their second goal in the 82nd minute to make the score 2-1, meaning Dortmund would have to score twice more to advance. In what turned out to be an amazing stoppage time, Dortmund scored in the 91st and 93rd minutes to clench the victory at 3-2. Dortmund advanced to the semifinals and heartbroken Malaga returned home.

Also on April 9, Madrid met Galatasaray in Turkey, which ended in a 3-2 victory for Galatasaray. Two of Galatasaray’s most recent transfers, Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder, scored for Galatasary. After having won the first game 3-0, Madrid advanced to the semifinals. Galatasaray, though it didn’t advance, can take pride in the fact that they defeated one of the best teams in the world.

Didier Drogba is playing for Galatasaray on loan from Shanghai Shenhua, the team he joined last June after leaving Chelsea. Chelsea won the Champions League last year, where Drogba scored both the game-tying goal late in the game and the game-winning penalty in shootouts against Bayern.

Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munchen, and Borussia Dortmund are the four teams remaining in the UEFA Champions League. “Three of the four are the top three teams in the world. Dortmund is having a disappointing season. There are two league leaders and two others, you do the math,” said Jeremy.

After the drawing for semifinals on April 12, Barcelona will be playing Bayern, and Real Madrid will be playing Dortmund.

The first leg of the semifinals will be on April 23 and 24, and the second leg on April 30 and May 1.