Champions League: Manchester City is rolling, Real Madrid ekes into the quarters

Two more teams advanced to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday: champion Manchester City and 14-time European champion Real Madrid joined Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain in the quarterfinals.

Here are three brief reflections on Wednesday's pair of decisive round of 16 matches.

city ​​man is finding its place at the perfect time

As coolly effective as Pep Guardiola's side have been this season, it is not unfair to point out that City have underperformed their devastating best from a year ago, when the Sky Blues claimed a shock victory in the European League, the Premier League and the FA Cup. Titles.

The last few weeks have been different. City beat Danish side FC Copenhagen on Wednesday with a 3-1 home win (6-2 on aggregate) with goals from Manuel Akanji, Julián Álvarez and (of course) Erling Haaland:

It's the third consecutive one-sided result for Haaland & Co., who came into Wednesday's contest thanks to two more laughs: a 3-1 rout of city rival Manchester United on Sunday, which followed a 6-all rout -2 midweek over Luton Town in FA Cup action.

Simply put, the city is heating up when it matters most. The scary thing is that Guardiola's team still has room for improvement, as demonstrated by the goal the visitors scored on Wednesday. But while they still have work to do, especially in the Prem, where they are one point behind Liverpool with 11 games left, it would surprise no one if they also claim all three trophies this spring.

Real Madrid, unconvincing, gets into the quarterfinals

No disrespect to RB Leipzig, but after Real Madrid beat the Germans 1-0 on their own turf last month, most observers believed The whites He would leave with the second leg at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

Someone forgot to tell the visitors. Leipzig attacked the continent's most successful club in the Spanish capital all night, losing the series but not the match, which ended 1-1.

The Bundesliga side had the hosts on their heels from the start on Wednesday, but the threat appeared to have dissipated when Jude Bellingham set up Vinícius Júnior for the opener after a devastating counter-attack.

But Willi Orbán disallowed the goal less than three minutes later, and Real were probably lucky to escape even with an unsatisfactory 2-1 aggregate victory after Dani Olmo's injury-time shot beat goalkeeper Andriy Lunin but failed to score. to the crossbar.

Moving forward is what counts, obviously. But Real Madrid fans expect more than just being outshot by a margin of almost 2-1 (18-10) in such a critical match. They know as well as anyone that Carlo Ancelotti's team will have to give more, much more, if Real want to win their fifteenth European title this season.

A hat for FC Copenhagen

Given the reaction of the traveling fans, no one would have guessed that the Danes were still trailing 5-2 on aggregate after Mohamed Elyounoussi pulled one back for the guests at the Emirates Stadium.

For Copenhagen's sponsors, the simple fact of reaching this stage of the world's top club competition represented a triumph. And while the lowly club's Cinderella run to the knockout stage finally turned into a pumpkin on Wednesday, what a season. Copenhagen fought their way here with a famous home victory over Manchester United. He held the powerful Bayern Munich to a goalless draw in Germany.

And although the club had a bit of bad luck facing the defending champions and the 2024 favorites in the round of 16, they come out of the competition with their heads held high.

Doug McIntyre is a football writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer for ESPN and Yahoo Sports and has covered USA men's and women's national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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