Just as the dust began to settle from Cristiano's hat-trick which saw Atlético eliminated on Tuesday ("God's fury" according to the ‘La Gazzetta’), we saw another surprise in the competition as Liverpool dispatched Bayern Munich (1-3) with minimum fuss and their qualification to the next stage sees four Premier League sides progress. Klopp's side will take their place in tomorrow's draw along with Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham. The other teams hail from four different nations with no German representative being a talking point after Bayern's exit following Schalke's hammering away to Manchester City. Barça, FC Porto, Ajax and Juventus go into the draw with the Premier League bossing this season's competition.
Barça march on
For the last few seasons, we've enjoyed LaLiga sides dominating this competition but this year Barça are the only domestic representative after eliminating Olympique Lyon at Camp Nou last night. The first of the five goals came from the penalty spot after Luis Suárez was adjudged to have been hauled down in the area, a decision contested by our in-house former referee Iturralde. To be honest when I first saw the incident I felt it was a spot-kick but replays convinced me less. Despite this isolated incident, the Catalan side were the better over both legs with Valverde's men making up for wasted chances in France but putting five past the Ligue 1 outfit at Camp Nou. With no Real Madrid or Atlético this year, thanks to Cristiano both indirectly and directly, the only player hailing from the Spanish capital still in the competition is FC Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Returning to the theme of the Premier League which is always cited as direct competition for LaLiga, one is prompted to ask the question: "what's behind this reaction from English sides"? Not so many years ago English clubs were coached by old-school types with antiquated training methods famed for their quips in the back pages of national newspapers. Gradually over time, styles have changed and clubs are now being coached by the likes of Guardiola, Klopp and Pocchettino (who oversee three of the four Champions League quarter finalists, with United's Solskjaer still cutting his teeth at Old Trafford) and all three clubs have advanced significantly in the past few years under these managers and their respective methodology. The prosperity of the Premier League of course is another factor in being able to sign top players with the current dominance resulting that 50% of the quarter finalists in European's most important domestic club competition hail from England.