It was a clash of titans as I would love to call it because it was a battle between last season's finalist; Manchester City (that was defeated by Chelsea) against twice beaten finalist; Atletico Madrid.
Atletico Madrid visited the Etihad and they were totally outclassed in every department even though the scoreline didn't tell us most of the stories. It is the first time between the two sides and both teams were beaming with confidence with Manchester City who has only lost 1 in 21 games in all competitions taking on Atletico Madrid whose 3 wins have been away from home in their 8 games played and have also won their last 6 games in all competitions.
Manchester City on the other hand has never lost at home since September 2018 which made this game a cracker and it was not surprising that the scoreline wasn't huge.
Atletico Madrid recorded no shot on target which explains why they struggled in this game. We have always known Atletico Madrid to defend resolutely away from home and hit their opponents on the counter so they can grind out results but Manchester City played their game to perfection and isolated Atletico Madrid. They kept them at a distance and then forced them to backward peddling.
It was a completely dominant performance from Manchester City who had a lot of options on the bench with Gabriel Jesus, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden after starting the game with Gundogan as the false 9. Foden made the difference with Grealish drawing the fouls too. There are so many good things to say about the minutes Foden played on the pitch with him finding space for De Bruyne who managed to finish off the chance as the solitary goal of the game, to outside foot pass and drawing players to himself.
Phil Foden is an exciting young player and it's scary to recount the number of trophies he has won so far. He made City better on the night with his flair on the ball and wonderful eyes for tiny details. Atletico Madrid came with the same game plan as we have known them to play but they were unlocked by the brilliance of Phil Foden's combination with Kevin De Bruyne and things didn't work out for them the way they planned. The second leg is not far off again but City can take confidence from how they played and got the advantage while Atletico Madrid would have to come up with something special when City visits.
Benfica v Liverpool.
This is another game that Liverpool showed their quality and won. It was a 3-1 victory away from home and Benfica would have to beat Liverpool 3-0 at Anfield if they want to have any chance of qualifying for the next round. Your guess is as good as mine, it would be hard but with football, nothing is impossible but still, I don't see Liverpool losing 3-0 at home because they are not Manchester United or the Bottler FC; PSG.
Konate, Mane and Luis Diaz gave Liverpool the healthy advantage and consolation from Benfica came from Nunez. I don't know what Benfica's coach can say to inspire his team for the second leg but they are professionals, nothing is lost until the final whistle and with how they have defeated so many big teams this season; Barcelona and knocked out Ajax. It has been a mixed season for them as they lost the Taca da Liga cup to Sporting Lisbon and now they are on the brink of dropping out of the competition after battling so hard.
Liverpool would know that despite the healthy lead that they command, the game is far from over and they wouldn't want to let their guard down before Benfica would create history by defeating them at Anfield. That would put a massive dent in the character of Liverpool players and might after their title run-in. Those defeats in the Champions League from years past to present still affect PSG, so Liverpool wouldn't want to take any chance of letting their guards down and would approach the second leg with more determination than the first.
It would also be another interesting game. What a match it would be between whoever wins the Atletico Madrid/Manchester City match and Benfica/Liverpool. We are set for another interesting battle and this is what the Champions League offers.
Thank you for your time.
My pen doesn't bleed, it speaks, with speed and ease.
My tongue is like the pen of a ready writer.
Olawalium; (Love's chemical content, in human form). Take a dose today: doctor's order.