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Champions League quarter-finals: 4 biggest lessons

Thursday 12th April 2018

The Champions League quarter-finals certainly didn't leave viewers empty-handed. The memories will last a lifetime. The four ties delivered on all accounts: quality, suspense, drama and heartbreak. There wasn't a single dull moment, especially for the neutrals.

AS Roma overcoming a 4-1 deficit to dump out Barcelona. Miracle. Liverpool making a mockery of the Premier League, thrashing champions-elect Manchester City. Humiliation.

Real Madrid hitting three past Juventus in Turin, only to survive a scare at home. Luck. Bayern Munich showing clinical best, avoiding Manchester United's fate against Sevilla. Solid.

The Champions League quarter-finals offer numerous lessons for both victor and vanquished. We look at the biggest four.  

Never underestimate a hungry coach

Of the eight quarter-finalists, Roma faced the toughest task. The Giallorossi didn’t impress in the previous round, requiring away goals to dispatch Shakhtar Donetsk. Keeping Lionel Messi and co at bay for 180 minutes seemed a tall order. 

However, Roma had a secret weapon in Eusebio Di Francesco. Young, determined and proficient, he heads the new generation of Italian managers. Having never worked at the highest level, the 48-year-old had an extra motivation to make his point. He did so in emphatic fashion, leading his side into the Champions League semi-finals with a 3-0 home win over Barca.  

Di Francesco is already drawing comparisons to Jose Mourinho. It's not far-fetched. The Roma boss carries similar traits to the Portuguese in his younger days. 

Domestic form counts for little in Europe

Man City have been ruthless in the Premier League. The Citizens trampled on every opponent standing in their way, besides Liverpool. The Reds, meanwhile, though inconsistent in domestic competition, display greater affection for those special European nights.

The clash between two English heavyweights was expected to go City's way. But instead, Liverpool comfortably prevailed. Pep Guardiola was left embarrassed. Jurgen Klopp's side were ruthless over both legs, hitting five goals to ease into the last four.

Yet it was the manner Liverpool's much-maligned rearguards shut out Kevin De Bryune, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus among others that really drew the plaudits.

Impossible doesn’t exist in football

Heading into the return fixtures, Real, Barca and Bayern were strongly tipped to progress with ease. Monstrous tasks awaited their foes. Man City, meanwhile, were expected to restore some pride after capitulating at Anfield. 

While Bayern lived up to the billing, the others didn’t. Real and Barca conceded three apiece; City received a beating in their own backyard. Conquerors Juventus, Roma and Liverpool showed courage, affirming nothing is impossible in the beautiful game. 

Thunder does strike twice

Shout out to whoever postulated thunder not striking twice in the same place. Cristiano Ronaldo rubbished that notion with a double against Juve in Turin. The second strike was an absolute beauty which could go down as the competition's best.

In the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, however, it was Mario Mandzukic's turn. The Croatian outsmarted Keylor Navas twice. It wasn't enough to seal progress, though. Madrid march on.  

Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 

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