UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first legs wrapped on Wednesday with plenty of goals with seven scored between the two matches. Kylian Mbappe scored twice as PSG earned an impressive 3-2 win at Bayern Munich, while Chelsea’s 2-0 win against Porto in Seville has the Londoners on the verge of the semifinals.
Following Wednesday’s action, here are three takeaways from the matches:
PSG continue to live in the Bizarro World
The Bizarro World, where everything is just strangely inverted. Here we have PSG, the team that dominates in Ligue 1 and struggles to deliver in Europe. But now, it’s the opposite. The team may lose out on the Ligue 1 title but have been exceptional in Europe, winning back-to-back road games at Barcelona and at Bayern Munich.
It’s hard to explain why, other than the team’s clear focus being to win this competition. It’s the only thing missing from the trophy case, and it was the promise that Neymar brought with him when he left Barcelona for Paris.
Now, while the scoreboard looks great, the numbers tell a different story, one that hasn’t reached its conclusion. PSG managed three goals from an xG of 1.48 and six shots, while Bayern had an xG of 3.78 and had 31 total shots. If Robert Lewandowski would have been available, this very well could have been a win for Bayern. But to PSG’s credit, they took what they were given, capitalizing on the mistakes of the hosts to position themselves nicely ahead of next week.
Time to move on from Sule
I’m not trying to be overly critical, really. Niklas Sule is a pro for a reason. But goodness me Hansi Flick has to move away from him in this competition. He is one of the slowest defenders in UCL, and when you are facing the speed of Neymar, Mbappe and Angel Di Maria, you are just asking for trouble.
On the two goals scored in which he was on the pitch, he failed to react well enough on both. On the first, he let Mbappe get free behind him, and on the second he got caught watching.
It’s simply unacceptable and shows a lack of focus. He is receiving a rating of 1 in our player ratings, and his 42 minutes played were 42 too many.
Blues a near lock to advance
Chelsea can start making their plans for a semifinal showdown against Real Madrid or Liverpool, because this one feels over. A 2-0 win on the road, though the match was played in Seville, Spain, means a one-goal loss in the second leg will be enough to go through. That second leg on Wednesday will also be in Seville.
In this match, Chelsea were out-shot 12 to 6 by the Portuguese side, but while Chelsea didn’t have more chances, they had the better ones and took them. Mason Mount’s brilliance was on full display with his lovely winner, which was his first goal in the competition.
Entering the second leg, Chelsea will be comfortable, having gotten that West Brom disaster out of their system. They can play just how Thomas Tuchel wants for the second 90 minutes, keeping possession, playing a bit conservatively and looking to use their speed on the counter.
It’s hard to see a way back for Porto, but if they are able to get a goal in the first half an hour to take the lead, then they’ll have nothing to do. But with Chelsea’s defense, which has played fairly well as of late, the club should be super confident in cruising into the semifinals.