UEFA Champions League Report: Ronaldo stars as Real Madrid and Barcelona Move on to the Knockout rounds

Ronaldo continues to break more records. [Goal Associated Press]

Ronaldo continues to break more records. [Goal Associated Press]

This week saw the last of the group stage games being played in UEFA Champions League. Real Madrid and Barcelona had already been guaranteed qualification at the top of their group, so these games were more for pride than anything else.

 

Real Madrid played first on December 8th, against Malmo FF, a Swedish team, at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Karim Benzema scored within 12 minutes to make it 1-0 and they never really went back from there. He made it 2-0 12 minutes later after pouncing on another terrific cross from Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo then took over the game by scoring four goals in the space of 20 minutes, taking his goal tally for the group stages to 11 goals, beating his own record for the most amount of goals scored in the group stages of the Champions League. Real Madrid continued to run riot, with Mateo Kovacic scoring in the 70th minute and Karim Benzema in the 74th to complete the 8-0 destruction of Malmo. Although they were guaranteed to move on to the next round, Real Madrid secured their spot with this rout. It was truly stunning soccer from a Real Madrid side that have come under a lot of criticism for recent performances and the recent scandal with them being knocked out of the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player. They look to be back to their best once again, a frightening prospect for any team in the next round of the Champions League.

Benzema bagged a brace as well. [Goal Associated Press]

Benzema bagged a brace as well. [Goal Associated Press]

Barcelona then played on December 9th against German side Bayer Leverkusen. They have been in scintillating form of late, scoring 28 goals in their last 8 games (Sky Sports). The front three of Messi, Neymar, and Suarez, or MSN for short, has been lighting up the footballing world this season. Some are calling them one of the best triple threats ever to have existed in world football. Because they are guaranteed to move on to the knockout rounds in first place, their coach Luis Enrique opted to leave some first team players out, such as Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets. Neymar was also out with a groin strain, which left some of the youngsters, such as 20-year-old forward Munir El-Haddadi, able to shine in the game. Their captain, Lionel Messi, scored to make it 1-0 to Barcelona within 20 minutes, however, Bayer Leverkusen cancelled that out with a great finish by Javier Hernandez after a low cross came in from Admir Mehmedi in the 23rd minute. Messi had a chance to then put the side back in the lead, but he uncharacteristically put it wide. Bayer Leverkusen also had many chances to get into the lead, with Hakan Calhanoglu and Karim Bellarabi wasting glorious chances. Marc-Andre ter Stegen was a thorn in the side of Bayer Leverkusen as he came up with some world-class saves to keep his side in it. The game finished 1-1, which would usually be a great result for Bayer Leverkusen, yet the night finished in heartbreak for them as they finished in third place and got knocked out of the Champions League and instead into the Europa League. Barcelona finished in first place, as guaranteed, and will wait for the draw for the next round which will happen Monday December 14th.

Lionel Messi is back with a bang after an injury layoff. [Goal Associated Press]

Lionel Messi is back with a bang after an injury layoff. [Goal Associated Press]

All in all, it was an amazing performance by Real Madrid which will definitely get their confidence up for the upcoming matches. Barcelona’s performance level dipped a bit from their usual high quality, but they won’t be worried as their star players were being rested for this match. We will see what the draw holds for these teams this coming Monday. The Champions League magic involving these two teams continues starting with the draw this coming Monday.

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