The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Champions League Results in Two Losers and a Big Winner

Champions+League+Results+in+Two+Losers+and+a+Big+Winner
AP Photo / Andrew Medichini

Winning the UEFA Champions League (UCL), aside from winning the World Cup, is considered to be the biggest prize in all of top soccer. It is, essentially, the club format of the World Cup — only hosted annually — with the 32 best teams from the best leagues across the globe making the cut to get into the tournament. The tournament this year saw a lot of familiar faces make the cut, such as PSG, Bayern, Barcelona and Manchester City, but there have been some shake-ups among some of these Champions League regulars that have made this year a bit of a different story from previous ones. 

Barcelona is one of those such clubs that has seen a dip in terms of what they were expected to achieve this season. There was much excitement when former midfielder and club legend Xavier Hernández (Xavi) stepped into the role as the team’s skipper in November of 2021, but Barca’s performance over the past few years has not lived up to the weighty expectations that fans had for the team. After consistent disappointments in La Liga this year, Hernández announced in mid-January that this year would be his last at Barca’s helm, according to CBS Sports. The announcement will certainly save some face for him, but the same can’t really be said for the club. In terms of their performance in this year’s Champions League, the spark of tiki-taka brilliance that characterized the club during its dominance of the tournament in the 2010s has just never materialized. Barcelona’s last UCL match was against Antwerp during the last match of the tournament’s group stages; they lost 3-2. It was an incredibly disappointing result that, hopefully, the players and the coaching staff have forgotten about as they head into the first leg of the round of 16 against Napoli on Wednesday, Feb. 21. 

Bayern Munich, a titan of the German Bundesliga and another club that has seen Champions League success in the past, has also had a year to forget. Fans of the club were delighted when it was announced in August that superstar striker Harry Kane would be signing with the team for the next four years. Kane was slated to fill the void left by Bayern’s golden child of their attack, Robert Lewandowski, who, funnily enough, had left to go to Barcelona a year prior. But Kane has not been the answer for the club, who have had a disappointing year in the Bundesliga — by their standards, considering they are coming off a record 11 consecutive league wins — as they sit in second place behind Leverkusen. As far as their performance in the Champions League, Bayern has been far from dominant — in fact, the storied club teeters on the edge of a round of 16 exit after a shocking 1-0 loss against Lazio in the first leg on Feb. 14. Their last chance to stay alive in the tournament comes on March 5, where they will face Lazio again only down 1-0 on aggregate score. Bayern’s UCL hopes aren’t over quite yet, but it is do-or-die time for the struggling club. 

On the other side of the coin is Manchester City, who is the current favorite to win the UCL, with bookmakers putting their odds of doing so around 40%, according to the Daily Telegraph. The next closest favorite is Real Madrid at 18%, which, at least on paper, makes this year’s tournament look like a bit of a one-horse race. City played their first leg in the round of 16 last Tuesday, Feb. 13, with the club securing a commanding 3-1 victory over a scrappy but ultimately outmatched Copenhagen team. Unlike Barca, Bayern, and some of the other big-cap, big-name teams that have struggled in the UCL this year, City has looked to be cool, calm and collected during all of their matches. They went undefeated during the group stage of the tournament, with a 6-0 record that sent a message to the rest of the competition: We mean business. And they do. City’s roster runs deep with talent to an extent that no other team — except for maybe Real Madrid — can come close to. The biggest names are star forwards Erling Haaland and Phil Phoden, along with brilliant midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, but every player on the team’s starting 11 could be their own centerpiece of a lesser team. They play their second leg against Copenhagen on March 6, and ambitions from the players and fans will certainly be running high. 

The last four first-leg matches of the round of 16 will have taken place during this week. Inter Milan faces off against Atletico Madrid, and PSV plays Dortmund on Tuesday, Feb. 20; Arsenal faces underdog FC Porto and Napoli looks to shock Barcelona on Wednesday, Feb. 21. Second-leg games start in early March.

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About the Contributor
Richie Rosen, Assistant Sports Editor
Richie Rosen is a sophomore from Los Angeles, CA concentrating on economics with a minor in political science. He has previously served as a staff writer for the Commentary, Baker's Dozen, and Sports sections. On campus, Richie is involved in the Colgate Investment Club, the Ski Club, and a greek letter organization. 

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