We finally have the semi-finalists who’ll compete for the coveted trophy in 2018. This week, two matches, in particular, has been, to immediate memory, the most exhaustive and memorable in recent times. In succession, football fans were afforded the chance to witness two occasions so similar in character, yet so dissimilar in their significance.
Roma pulled off a “Barca” and sent the favorites packing, managing to stage one of the most historic comebacks ever recorded in history and providing us with the biggest shock in football this season. The rampaging Romans fought like gladiators and overturned a three-goal deficit from the first leg to win 3-0 at Stadio Olimpico, winning on away goals and booking their place in the semis. Coach Valverde has since come under fire for his overly defensive and languid tactics, choosing not to start Dembele and restricting Messi to the attacking third. A teary Andres Iniesta has hinted towards his early and unexpected retirement, to compile further misery on FC Barcelona.
In the other matchup on Tuesday, Liverpool continued their dream run in the competition and recorded yet another, and unprecedented, victory over Premier League leaders, Manchester City to book their place in the semis. Mo Salah scored yet again, proving himself to be the front-runner for the coveted Ballon d’Or trophy and in the process taking his season tally to 41 in all competitions. The other scorer on the night for the Reds was Firmino, who has quietly taken his tally to 25 in yet another terrific season. The 2-1 win secured an easy 5-1 triumph on aggregate, knocking out the favorites for the trophy this season, Man City, who’ll now have to contend with the Premier League, which in itself is a great achievement.
It remains to be seen what happens with the draws, but Real remain the favorites to lift the trophy in my opinion.