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Four things we learned from the Champions League action

Four things we learned from the Champions League quarter-final second legs, featuring the English outcasts celebrating memorable nights, the Premier League’s wipeout, and are the football gods beginning to draft a football masterpiece?

English outcasts celebrate memorable nights

It’s funny how things work out. In a week when England’s representatives exited Europe’s top competition, there were success stories for forgotten faces from the Premier League.

Eric Dier, unwanted at Tottenham earlier in the campaign, will now compete in a glamour semi-final between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, two teams with 20 Champions League crowns between them. A surprise signing in January, the defender was excellent in the 1-0 win over Arsenal, savouring a sweet moment against his old side’s north London rivals.

Elsewhere, Vitinha has emerged as a driving force in PSG’s bid for European success after an underwhelming spell at Wolves in 2020/21, while Jadon Sancho and Ian Maatsen are enjoying their football at Borussia Dortmund after being ostracised at Manchester United and Chelsea respectively. The Champions League semi-finals await for each of them.

 

Premier League wipeout a shock

The financial strength of the Premier League has made English clubs a force in Europe right now, with three of the last five Champions League winners from these shores. Five of the last six finals have featured at least one English team, with 2019 and 2021 seeing all-Premier League affairs.

However, for only the second time since 2017/18, there will be no Premier League clubs in the Champions League’s semi-finals. Manchester City and Arsenal each started their, admittedly tough, quarter-final ties as slight favourites but have both bowed out in the last eight.

Pep Guardiola’s hopes of back-to-back trebles ended as Manchester City lost on penalties to Real Madrid, who weathered a storm from the holders before earning shootout success. Arsenal, meanwhile, lacked the European experience to beat Bayern Munich after a disappointing second-leg performance.

The exits of the English clubs will be welcomed across Europe, with the continent’s clubs having become unnerved at the growing gap in wealth between the Premier League and other leagues. The eliminations also spell trouble for England’s hopes of an additional place in next season’s competition. Germany has now moved ahead of England in the coefficient rankings.

Coefficient rankings with England set to miss out on Champions League place

Football Gods preparing cinematic masterpiece

It couldn’t happen, could it?

Kylian Mbappe’s not-so-secret move to Real Madrid is yet to be officially announced with both teams keen to avoid an announcement while still in contention for the Champions League. As it happens, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid could meet in the final after both progressed to different sides of the semi-final draw.

It has raised the prospect of a potential Champions League final that could see Mbappe play his final game in a Paris Saint-Germain shirt against the team he will sign for in the summer. Add in the sub-narrative of PSG’s chase for an elusive European crown and a potential treble this season, and it’s a script writer’s dream.

Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, who could meet in a repeat of the 2013 Der Klassiker Champions League final, will hope to put a spanner in the works.

Kane closer to ending wait for trophy

Bayern Munich kept their season alive after beating Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-finals, a competition that represents last-chance saloon for the German giants this season. After relinquishing the Bundesliga title to Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern had no room for error against Arsenal and responded with an efficient performance to knock out the north Londoners.

The 1-0 win means Harry Kane has taken a step closer to ending his wait for honours. The social media jibes aimed at the England captain can be, even as a neutral, uncomfortable with Kane among world football’s elite, regardless of his blank résumé when it comes to club prizes.

He has enhanced that reputation at Bayern with 39 goals in all competitions this season after a transfer designed to place the forward on the highest stages. There are few bigger than a Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid.

Read – Champions League Team of the Week – Quarter-finals

See more – Champions League Awards: Remontada revenge and Bernardo blunder

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