The UCL semi finals first leg matches took place on Tuesday and Wednesday and presented us fans with many talking points.
Here are the highlights:
Tottenham Hotspurs 0-1 Ajax
Balancing their top four ambitions for the English Premier League and their quest for Champions League glory proved too much for Spurs. Donny van de Beek beat goal keeper Hugo Lloris who fell too early to catch the shot, resulting in a crucial away goal for the UCL dark horses.
Unfortunately for Spurs, they had to do without Son Heung-min and Harry Kane, who were unavoidably absent. In the middle of the match, Spurs suffered another blow, this time it was defender Jan Vertonghen. Vertonghen received a head injury that caused him to have to exit the field. He's set to see a neurologist this weekend so hopefully he will be okay for the second leg next week.
Mauricio Pochettino seemed to have conceded defeat later on in the game as he subbed on two defenders, hoping to hold Ajax to only a one goal advantage. On the bright side, however, at least Tottenham was able to keep themselves alive in this tie because another away goal to Ajax would have been disastrous.
Ajax, on the other hand, came into this tie hungry and brave as they played a style of football we call Total Football, and so often times Spurs weren't being allowed to breathe. Ajax played some beautiful football. They took this tie seriously and as a precaution, all prior matches from the weekend before this one were cancelled so that the team could rest. Spurs, on the other hand, didn't have anything like that in place. The only thing that may come back to haunt Ajax was when David Neres almost netted another away goal but was stopped by the woodwork.
Going into the second leg, Spurs will have their talisman Son back and maybe Vertonghen. Spurs will simply have to make their attacks count or suffer the horror of missing the UCL finals. Erik ten Hag and his men are said to love scoring at home, so you can expect Ajax to score more goals in the next tie. Ajax also usually concedes, so this clean sheet they kept is unusual, but if they can find back the clean sheet formula, they are into the finals.
Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool
Barcelona already has one foot in the finals of the Champions League in an effort to keep their treble dreams alive and snatch back the trophy that has been with their rivals Real Madrid for three long years. Barcelona has been notably missing from the finals these past couple years, struggling to get out of the quarter finals, but it seems like the curse has been broken. Luis Suarez opened the scoring, burying the goal past Alisson and openly celebrated despite Liverpool being his old team. Liverpool failed to respond, and Lionel Messi scored two more goals, rounding off the score. The most notable goal was a brilliant free kick Messi took in the 82nd minute, his 600th goal for Barcelona. There was not much Alisson could have done to stop that.
Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp said that his team produced the "best away game for two seasons". He also went on to posit that he doesn't believe that Liverpool could have played any better and that he was "completely happy". Liverpool fans believe Klopp made detrimental errors in his choice of defenders since they proved to be unsuitable to thwart Barcelona's attack.
Going into the second leg, Liverpool will have to prevent Barcelona from scoring any away goals, as the match will be at Anfield. In addition to containing Barcelona, they're going to have to score four goals to win the tie. The odds are in Barcelona's favour and I doubt Ousmane Dembélé's disappointing miss will come back to haunt him. Liverpool is on track to have yet another trophyless season, unless they can produce another Miracle of Istanbul performance or get a bit of luck on their side.