Consider it karma for Jose Mourinho. The Special One used boring tactics to beat Liverpool on Saturday and tried similarly cynical tactics on Tuesday for Manchester United vs Sevilla. This time, the result was a stunning 2-1 defeat, the Red Devils going out in the Champions League Round of 16.
AS Roma did just enough to overturn their deficit against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday, Edin Dzeko scoring the lone goal in the 52nd minute to put Roma through via the away goals rule, 2-2 on aggregate.
Shakhtar went about their business professionally in the opening 45, looking dangerous on the counter and assured in possession while Roma struggled to generate any chances of note.
If last week’s round of Serie A fixtures was dominated by tragedy, then this week’s matches were defined by flashes of beauty peering through the gloom. Across a number of games, there were flashes of brilliance which pierced through the fog for vastly different reasons. Even if, ultimately, the moments meant nothing, the surge of emotion and energy was undeniable.
Let’s begin with the most astounding of all.
Oh baby. It’s that time of year again. Nearly seven weeks after a Copa del Rey exit put manager Zinedine Zidane’s position on the brink, Real Madrid has since gone 9-1-1 while elevating itself back to the position of Champions League favorite following a 5-2 aggregate humbling of PSG.
Over that period, Cristiano Ronaldo has recorded 15 goals and two assists in nine starts, including a brace against Eibar on Saturday.
Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United rarely had the ball and rarely attacked. The Red Devils gave up an own goal that looked impossible to score. And yet the Manchester United vs Liverpool match never seemed in doubt for the home side at Old Trafford, with a Marcus Rashford brace powering a 2-1 victory on Saturday.
Liverpool dominated in all the stats that don’t matter: possession (68-32 percent), shots (14-5) and corner kicks (13-1). But a couple of unimaginative, Route 1 attacks in the opening half hour were all Manchester United needed to secure victory.
This is starting to look familiar. Just like last season, when Cristiano Ronaldo started the season slow before exploding late in the season, the Portuguese forward is rounding into form yet again, only this time he’s started even earlier. Ronaldo scored a brace for Real Madrid vs Eibar on Saturday, extending a superb run in the last two months as Los Blancos earned a 2-1 victory.
It’s been a great month for Borussia Dortmund attacker Marco Reus. After suffering an ACL tear in last season’s DFB-Pokal final, the 28-year-old made his long-awaited comeback on February 10 against Hamburger SV in the Bundesliga.
He’s since played in six more matches for BVB, scoring three goals (including the strike that’s since been voted the Bundesliga’s Goal of the Month for February).