Champions League Last 16 Week 1

The Champions League last 16 got underway this week with 4 first leg ties. Here’s a look at each game.

Mbappe Masterclass For Last Seasons Runners-Up

Despite taking an early lead through a dubious penalty Barca were outplayed by PSG. Messi converted from the spot after De Jong was deemed to have been brought down, although it appeared he may have tripped over his own feet. The goal was well-earned with Messi pulling the strings from a deeper position than usual. PSG had struggled to have much presence in the opposition box, but a neat touch from Mbappe gave the French champions an away goal before halftime. Idrissa Gueye came off for the away side at the break, having arguably been lucky to stay on the pitch. Mbappe and Keane scored within 5 minutes of eachother past the hour mark to put the French side in firm control. Mbappe rounded off his hattrick late on.

FT Barcelona 1-4 PSG

Barcelona 1-4-3-3

Ter Stegen, Dest (Mingueza), Pique (Puig), Lenglet, Alba, De Jong, Busquets (Pjanic), Pedri (Trincao), Griezmann (Braithwaite), Messi, Dembele.

PSG 1-4-2-3-1

Navas, Florenzi (Kehrer), Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Kurzawa, Paredes, Gueye (Herrera), Kean (Danilo), Veratti (Draxler), Mbappe, Icardi.

Liverpool Return To Winning Ways At Leipzig

Before the game a center-back injury crises for Liverpool looked to hand the advantage to Leipzig. However it was the English Champions who took control of the tie with two away goals from Salah and Mane. Both goals involved poor defending from the Germans, with both Salah and Mane finding themselves with just the keeper to beat after lapses. Leipzig’s best chances game at either end of the game with Olmo hitting the post after 5 minutes and Hwang Hee-Chan shot just wide in injury time.

FT RB Leipzig 0-2 Liverpool

Leipzig 1-4-3-3

Gulacsi, Mukiele (Orban), Klostermann, Upamecano, Angelino, Sabitzer, Haidara (Poulsen), Kampl (Hwang Hee-Chan), Nkunku, Olmo, Adams.

Liverpool 1-4-3-3

Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Kabak, Henderson, Robertson, Alcantara (Oxlade-Chamberlain), Wijnaldum, Jons, Salah (Williams), Firmino (Shaqiri), Mane.

Porto Take The Lead But May Rue Late Juve Goal

It looked set to be a tale of defensive errors at the start of each half with Porto looking very much in control of the tie. Goals from Iranian top scorer Taremi in the 1st minute, and Marega in the 1st minute of the second half gave the Portuguese side the lead thanks to some uncharacteristically disastrous defending from the Scudetto holders. Porto could have sealed the tie with a third, but instead Juve found themselves back in it with a late away goal from Chiesa. Juventus had further chances late on with Ramsey and Morata making the difference.

FT Porto 2-1 Juventus

Porto 1-4-4-2

Marchesin, Manafa, Mbemba, Pepe, Sanusi, Corona (Ndiaye), Uribe, Sergio Oliveira (Francisco Conceicao), Otavio (Luis Diaz), Marega (Grujic), Taremi.

Juventus 1-4-4-2

Szczesny, Danilo, de Ligt, Chiellini (Demiral), Alex Sandro, Chiesa, Rabiot, Bentancur, McKennie (Morata), Kulusevski (Ramsey), Ronaldo.

Wonderkid Haaland Gives Sevilla Norwegian Nightmares

Last seasons Europa League winners have it all to do if they are to advance in the Champions League this season. Things started brightly with Suso giving the Spanish sides the lead. However Erling Haaland was the difference maker with an assist and two goals in the first half. First Haaland set up Dahoud for the equalizer, before putting Dortmund, who are struggling for form in the Bundesliga, ahead. Haaland made it 1-3 just before halftime. Sevilla got one back late in the game through de Jong, but will need to score at least twice if they are to continue their UCL journey,

FT Sevilla 2-3 Dortmund

Sevilla 1-4-3-3

Bono, Navas, Kounde, Diego Carlos, Escudero, Jordan (Rodriguez), Ferando, Rakitic (Gudelj), Suso (de Jong), En Nesyri (El Haddadi), Gomez (Torres).

Dortmund 1-4-3-2-1

Hitz, Morey Bauza, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro (Passlack), Dahoud (Meunier), Can, Bellingham, Reus (Brandt), Sancho, Haaland.

NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day (from Someone who doesn’t really watch NXT anymore)

Back in the day when NXT was a developmental show (after it was a talent show of some kind) I used to watch weekly. I would come home from college every Thursday and watch the previous nights episode. I enjoyed how it was a best-kept-secret of sorts and how while it had big stars, it had a family feel.

That’s gone away in recent times. Now a two-hour show that feels like another WWE Show rather than an exceptional WWE Show, I don’t watch as much anymore. I read up on the results and keep an eye on it. And naturally through social media I find out what’s going on. I miss the days of NXT being like an indie show with wrestlers trying to prove themselves.

But I always enjoy TakeOvers. And I will still watch them. Here’s some notes from a writer who doesn’t watch as much anymore as the magic has gone away somewhat.

PreShow

  • MSK cut a good promo, they are likeable
  • LA Night has great promo skills. Reminds me a bit of the Rock.
  • They described Johnny Gargano v Kushida as a dream match. That always worries me that the match will be overlong finisher-fest. It is a dream match, but they shouldn’t tell us, they should build the rivalry.
  • I’m glad Pete Dunne is getting a TakeOver world title match. I likethe rivalry being build around disrespect.
  • Would have liked a preshow match. A battle royal or something for a future title shot.

Main Card

Women’s Dusty Cup Final:

Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzales v Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon

  • Kai and Gonzales would be great Tag Champs. But it seems hard for WWE to build up women’s tag titles rivalries.
  • I don’t dislike Shotzi Blackheart, I just am not nearly as enamored by her character as the majority of fans seem to be. But it’s infuriating when Wrestling fans shit on a wrestler because some people like them so I promise not to do that either.
  • Dakota Kai is doing something underappreciated in modern wrestling, selling a move really well and consistently.
  • I like how Kai and Gonzales are being made to look crafty with their timely distractions of the ref, but it isn’t being overused.
  • It’s a nice change of pace that it took about 15 minutes of a PPV match for a middlerope dive. And it was purposeful. Too often we just get dives for the sake of dives really early in a match.
  • Gonzales has looked like a machine but not indestructible which is good.
  • Gonzales throwing Ember Moon over the rope and off the stage is what I would refer to as ‘Strambolling’ somebody.
  • Glad Gonzales and Kai picked up the win. The Women’s tag titles need actual tag teams to have reigns rather than thrown together pairings. Although I’m not sure they will be the ones to take the titles off Shayna and Nia. And it’s good to see a team win the first women’s Dusty classic.

North American Championship:

Johnny Gargano (c) v Kushida

  • They’ve done a really good job of making the North American Championship mean something. Too often in WWE the secondary titles are just after thoughts that occasionally get some spot light but are usually props. The North American Title means something and has a unique look. Time will tell if giving Leon Ruff a short reign while being so new and unexposed to a WWE audience, but if he gets to return to the scene in the future it will have been worth it.
  • I’m worried about what Dexter Lumis is going to do to Austin Theory.
  • They just talked up Kushida as a well-traveled veteran but then had him be surprised that the ref was doing 10-count when him and Gargano were out of the ring.
  • Kushida is wrestling in jeans. It can’t be easy to wrestle in jeans, I struggle to get my phone out of my pocket when wearing jeans.
  • I’m glad Kushida pointed out that Gargano’s shoulders were down.
  • Some great false finishes that are believable.
  • Glad Gargano won, but I think Kushida needs to win a title soon. It’s no good calling somebody a great international star but they don’t get big wins.

Men’s Dusty Cup Final:

MSK v Grizzled Young Veterans

  • I’m a big fan of Grizzled Young Veterans. I hope they don’t turn into the kind of team that commentators call ‘the whole package’ but never actually get a big win in NXT. I’m glad they were the first ever NXTUK tag champs.
  • MSK probably make more sense as the winners here. For one, heels won the women’s Dusty Cup. And the Tag Champs are heels too.
  • Really exciting match. Good back and forward. Both teams look good.
  • MSK could be the new face on the NXT tag team ranks.

NXT Women’s Championship:

Io Shirai (c) v Toni Storm v Marcedes Martinez

  • Martinez has a cool entrance.
  • I enjoyed some of Storm’s work in NXTUK (when I was watching before the pandemic). I think she would fit in well on any brand.
  • Would have liked the match to have gone just a bit longer, but I’m glad Io retained. She should get a long reign and be dethroned by a great rival. Martinez could be that rival, but it should be a bit down the line after a run of destroying people.

NXT Championship:

Finn Bálor (c) v Pete Dunne

  • Kind of expecting a title change here because we have had 2 retentions so far. Although the crowning of two tournament winners might make that irrelevant.
  • I’m glad they are bringing back showing the competitors backstage walking to the ring. That I was something I really liked about the original TakeOvers.
  • So far there’s been a really good story. Both competitors trying to prove they can out wrestle eachother while trying to injure eachother.
  • Enjoyed the spot where Bálor passed out but had his foot on the rope. Good false finishes are hard to come by.
  • Really good counters in the final stretch.
  • Dunne looked strong in the finish because it took two finishers to end him.
  • I’m not sure who’s going to be built to take the title off Bálor. I don’t think Karrion Kross is the right person to be champ right now. I think he was put into the title mix too soon before his injury, I don’t know if he really belongs in NXT. I’d prefer see him run through everyone on Raw.
  • Surprised there was no interference. But maybe that’s a good thing.
  • As I type that Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch come out and attack.
  • Nice to see a ref actually try break up an attack on a face instead of just frantically waving.
  • I’m here for heel Adam Cole.
  • I hope Kyle O’Reilly gets a World Title Run within the next year/18 months.
  • Roddy Strong looks so confused. I like how Pete Dunne was involved in the storyline that ended the Undisputed Era because Strong betrayed him to join them.

All in all a really enjoyable show. While I don’t see NXT as must-watch weekly anymore I still think the TakeOvers are for any wrestling fans. Will I watch the next episode live? No because I live in Ireland and it wouldn’t be over until 3am. Will I watch it back later? Probably yes, but I’m not sure for how many weeks that will continue.