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Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

UEFA Champions League knockout rounds leave fans on the edge of their seats

Photo credited to: skymediauk

The UEFA Champions League 23/24 knockout rounds are well known for their shocking upsets, crazy games, and surprising results, and this year’s first leg did not disappoint. 

On Feb. 13, the knockout rounds began for the 23/24 Champions League season. The games started off with Copenhagen vs. reigning champs Manchester City and RB Leipzig vs 21/22 winners Real Madrid. 

The first game, with no surprise, went to Manchester City with a comfortable 3-1 victory. However, the game did not go so smoothly for Real Madrid. They barely scraped by with a 1-0 win, with a beautiful goal from Brahim Diaz saving them from a draw. Leipzig dominated the game, and a few different calls didn’t go their way, and they ended the day honestly unlucky going into the second leg of the knockouts, which will be held on Wednesday, March 6. 

The next matches occurred on Wednesday, Feb. 14 between French side Paris Saint-Germain and Spanish side Real Sociedad, and German giants Bayern Munich against Italian side Lazio. 

Unsurprisingly, Paris Saint-Germain handled Real Sociedad with a 2-0 victory. However, on the other side of things, Bayern Munich suffered a shocking 1-0 loss to current 7th place in the Italian Serie A; Lazio, due in part to a Dayot Upamecano red card in the 67th minute, which resulted in the game-losing penalty scored by Ciro Immobile. Bayern held 61% possession to Lazio’s 39% and had 17 shots to Lazio’s 11. A lot of pressure will be on their backs going into the second leg on Tuesday, March 5. 

The next round of matchups, held on Feb. 20, pitted Italian side Inter against Spanish side Atletico Madrid, as well as the Netherlands’ Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven against German Dortmund.

Inter, who are currently first in the Serie A, took care of business with a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid, with a goal in the 80th minute by Austrian substitute Marko Arnautovic. Inter dominated with 19 shots to Athletico’s 7, ending with 2.30 expected goals to Athletico’s 0.62. A nail-biting 1-1 draw occurred between PSV and Dortmund, with a 24th minute goal from Dortmund’s Donyell Malen, followed by Luuk de Jong’s 56th minute penalty. The game was relatively even, with 55% possession to PSV and 45% to Dortmund. The next leg will be held on Wed., March 13. 

Portugal’s FC Porto faced off against English Premier League giants Arsenal and Italian Napoli played against Spain’s FC Barcelona on Wednesday, Feb 21.

In a thriller of a match, Porto shocked the world, somehow pulling through against Arsenal, with a 90+4 goal from Wenderson Galeno. Even though Arsenal had 65% possession, they still had less shots on target (7 to 8) than Porto. This shocking loss puts Arsenal on high alert going into the second leg. In a fair matchup, Barcelona tied with Napoli 1-1, with Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski scoring the team’s first knockout goal since Lionel Messi left in 2021. With 50/50 possession throughout the game, it’s basically a coin toss going into the second round on Tuesday, March 12. 

Many big upsets occurred in the Champions League Round of 16, getting fans even more excited for their team’s next big game. Nobody knows what will happen next, and it really is anybody’s game now. 

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About the Contributor
Quinn Graham
Quinn Graham, Sports Editor
Quinn Graham is a senior at Niles North and this is his second year working on the newspaper. He enjoys playing soccer, working, and hanging out with his friends in his free time.

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