The UEFA Champions League first knockout stage got its first victims on Tuesday as two pairs concluded their business in the second legs. German newcomers RB Leipzig had an advantage over Tottenham heading to the second part after taking a 0-1 lead in the first fixture on the road. The setup in the other pair, at Valencia was completely the opposite. Atalanta had taken a strong position at home, beating their Spanish guests 4-1 and were clear favorites to progress going to the second leg.
Leipzig took the club’s first Champions League knockout stage victory in their first try and continued the trend in the second. Tottenham was left completely toothless, missing Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son and despite having to score at least one goal, they did not seem to bother with attacking effort. Jose Mourinho’s tactics failed miserably, as Leipzig took an easy early lead by Marcel Sabitzer double and the game was practically over.
Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris had his hand in both of the Sabitzer’s efforts, but couldn’t stop either. Tottenham was never able to put up a challenge and the team registered only three shots on goal all game, despite being down from the 10 minute mark and needing to score one more than their hosts in order to progress. With all due respect to RB Leipzig, playing efficient and dynamic football, the last season’s runner-up was a massive disappointment all-around.
Amid the turmoil caused by the coronavirus, the second leg between Valencia and Atalanta was played behind closed doors – likely the first of many such events in the near future. Playing for only tv-audiences didn’t much bother the teams, despite the impossible mission the home side was facing. Visitors Josip Ilicic started the show by delivering two first half penalties and the host’s Kevin Gameiro answered with a single tally. Gameiro then brought the home team even to start the second half with his second of the night – but Valencia was still four goals behind. That didn’t slow Valencia, who gave it all they got. Ferran Torres gave the home team the lead on 67th and there was a glimmer of hope, which was soon shot down by Josip Ilicic’s hat-trick goal. The Slovenian then added a fourth to give Atalanta another high-scoring victory 3-4.
Both Leipzig and Atalanta have to wait until the 20th of March to find out their opponents for the quarter-finals, but it is certain that their season in the European football has been a success already.
Juventus vs Olympique Lyonnais (1×2): 1.46 – 4.25 – 6.40
Barcelona vs Napoli (1×2): 1.51 – 4.25 – 5.50
Bayern Munchen vs Chelsea (1×2): 1.43 – 4.65 – 5.90