What would be the biggest surprise? Leverkusen actually coming back from losing 1-3 to Barcelona at home, or APOEL Nicosia beat Lyon by the right amount of goals and continuing their magical run in the Champions League? Knowing what we know now, seeing Leverkusen in the UCL quarter finals would be a bigger shock.
Barcelona – Bayer Leverkusen
First match: Barcelona did run over the Germans, but it was clear to see who the better team was. Alexis Sanchez with a brace and Lionel Messi scored for the European champions, Michal Kadlec drove one back for Levekusen.
In all fairness, this is a garbage time match. Leverkusen, despite their 2-0 win over Bayern Munich this weekend in the Bundesliga, aren’t anywhere near the same league as Barcelona, who haven’t given up on the league no matter what Guardiola says, see the Champions League as their main goal this season, or the more achievable one. Leverkusen will be travelling with 4000 fans, despite the small chances of success.
Barcelona are livid, despite their 3-1 win against Sporting Gijon. After getting used to the first place in the La Liga for so long, watching Real from below is frustrating. Their treatment by referees is frustrating. General rule – Referees will favor the better teams, the teams that lead the league.
This year, it’s about Real. Barcelona are the ones getting screwed more often then not, but they’ve enjoyed quite a few questionable calls over the years. Until the whole system is changed, meaning replays have more of an effect during and after matches, there’s no reason to be surprised.
APOEL Nicosia – Lyon
It’s funny to say, but Lyon, with all of their Champions League experience over the past decade, aren’t favorites against Nicosia. They come in to the GSP stadium with a minor 1-0 advantage from the first game thanks to Alexandre Lacazette and a small touch from a Cypriot defender. They are a terrible away team, winning only four matches in 14 road games this season in Ligue 1 action.
APOEL? Nothing to lose, on the verge of making more history. Before losing to Shakhtar, which meant nothing, APOEL had a nine game undefeated stretch. Lyon, a team that is frustrated quickly when the goals and opportunities don’t come, are fighting an uphill battle in France with the prospect of not playing in the Champions League next year very imminent.
Another “mental” lapse, as club president Jean-Michel Aulas referred to his team’s loss against Nancy this weekend (2-0), and Remi Garde’s position as head coach will be shakier than ever before. Lyon struggle with scoring despite Gomis and Lisandro Lopez. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see their name among the last 8.