1. Respect the farmers League! The French Ligue 1 has continued to suffer the disrespect of not being regarded as competitive enough in comparison to the other top five European leagues, majorly due to what many described as PSG easily ‘strolling’ to successive league titles.
However, such impressions need to be re-evaluated as both Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique Lyon secured progression to the semi-final, with the Lyon victory over Manchester City masterminded by the brilliant Rudi Garcia stunning the football world.
2. Fixture congestion takes its toll: All the debate surrounding project restart and the effect of playing numerous matches within a short period of time post the Coronavirus lockdown is beginning to make some sense judging by the UEFA Champions League quarter-final results and performances.
The French league organizers decided against restarting the season, the campaign prematurely ended in March, a decision which ultimately paid off for both PSG and Olympique Lyon whose freshness in comparison to their opposition aided qualification.
In contrast, the German Bundesliga concluded at the end of June after nine rounds of matches, while the English, Spanish and Italian teams played 9, 11 and 12 matches respectively in their league’s which concluded in July and early August and had very little time to recuperate for the mini-tournament in Lisbon.
3. Leipzig the history-makers: Dreams do come through and that exactly is the case of RB Leipzig, who secured an historic semi-final spot, knocking out overwhelming favourites Atletico Madrid.
The Germans were underdogs and had the unenviable task of being without the departed Timo Werner for this important fixture. However, they defied the odds to create history, reaching the competitions last four at their first attempt of playing in the knockout stage and now Julian Nagelsmann, 33, is on course to become the youngest manager to win the UEFA Champions League.
4. Bayern 8-2 lose: What will it take to defeat this super Bayern Munich team? The German were simply in a world and class of theirs against Barcelona, deploying the high-press, mesmerising their opponents for fun (Alphonso Davies’ dribble and run comes to mind), scored at will and above all deflated the ego and humbled Barcelona.
Considering Bayern’s displays in their last two matches and in all competition in this year, it will take something extremely special to stop them from winning the competition.
5. Bench makes the difference: A team with an excellent starting line-up but a weak bench will struggle to make any appreciable impact in any match or tournament.
If in doubt, the just concluded quarter-final matches should make for an interesting case study, starting with how PSG turned the tie against Atalanta thanks to the impressive contributions of substitutes Kylian Mbappe and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, the former setup the latter for the injury-time winner.
The super-sub impact continued the following day, Joao Felix levelling for Atletico Madrid against RB Leipzig, but it was another substitute, Tyler Adams’ deflected shot that propelled the Germans into the semi-finals, while Moussa Dembele proved to be Manchester City’s nemesis netting a brace within 12 minutes of been on the pitch.
6. End of an era at Barcelona: FC Barcelona players must still be in a state of shock as to how they were made to look like amateurs in a humiliating defeat and exit against Bayern Munich.
Their performance on the night begged the question, why did Barcelona show up in Lisbon if they were going to put up a disgraceful display?
That historic defeat can only mean one possible outcome, an incoming major shakeup at the club! Head coach Quique Setien and Sporting Director Eric Abidal are expected to be the first major casualties as they are reportedly on the way out of the club, while for a few senior figures within the squad, it’s simply the end of an era as they should be systematically shown the door out as the club aims to rebuild.
7. It’s a German-French affair: Who would have imagined a UEFA Champions League semi-final fixture list without either or both Real Madrid and Barcelona?
That exactly is the case in 2020, a year that continues to be unpredictable, as the French (PSG and Lyon) and German league’s (Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig) have produced two teams each for the competitions last four and we can only wish them the very best of luck.