Things we learned from the Champions League quarter-finals

15 April 2021 05:15

With the UEFA Champions League semi-final line up confirmed, now feels like the perfect time to reflect on what was a highly entertaining round of fixtures.

You could argue the Premier League has made for disappointing viewing this season but Europe's premier competition has gone some way in compensating the fans.

Many people's favourites Bayern Munich crashed out, Real Madrid will meet Chelsea in the last four and Manchester City have set up a semi-final showdown with Paris Saint-Germain. Now the adrenaline has worn off, here is what we've learned.

1. Jude Bellingham should start for England at the Euros

Jude Bellingham scored the opener in the Champions League quarter-final second leg between Dortmund and Man City | Pool/Getty Images

Bellingham was wrongfully denied a goal in the first leg but nobody was taking his strike in the second leg away from him. It's hard to believe he's just 17 years old when you see him bossing midfields in the Champions League and scoring goals of the highest quality.

His displays during the tie with Manchester City have put any doubt around whether he should be included in Gareth Southgate's England squad this summer to bed.

With Jordan Henderson facing a race against the clock with regards to his fitness, the position alongside Declan Rice in midfield is up for grabs and Bellingham, on current form, seems the right option.

2. Real Madrid must be taken seriously - even with a makeshift defence

Real Madrid kept a clean sheet at Anfield to book their place in the final four of this season's Champions League | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

When it comes to the UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid are the undisputed kings of the competition. They've won it four of the last seven times and in a season very few gave them hope, they made light work of the reigning Premier League champions.

Having travelled to Anfield with a 3-1 lead from the first-leg, even without the likes of Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Lucas Vazquez they were able to keep Jurgen Klopp's side at bay.

They're streetwise, talented and know how to get the job done in Europe.

3. Paris Saint-Germain are more than just Mbappe and Neymar

Mbappe and Neymar aren't the only two stars at PSG | Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar are pretty good at football, in fact, they're generational talents. They've got it all.

Having done the damage in Munich last week, it was over to the rest of Mauricio Pochettino's side to ensure they could hold onto the lead already established.

Even without Robert Lewandowski, the Bundesliga leaders have bags of attacking talent and PSG showed a dogged side to ensure they did enough to progress at the expense of their conquerors in last season's final - revenge is sweet.

4. Phil Foden is England's biggest creative midfield talent

Phil Foden netted his third UEFA Champions League goal of the season at Borussia Dortmund | BSR Agency/Getty Images

He shines in an elite team, has the football brain of a player well beyond his years and must start for England at the Euros. Failure to select him would be a crime.

We're running out of superlatives for the 20-year-old and the fact he looks so at home on the biggest stage, scores goals regularly and influences games greatly, puts him in a league above the rest of England's creative talent.

Having netted in both legs of the Champions League quarter-final versus Dortmund - his contribution proved decisive and he is on his way to the very top.

5. Jorginho is a highly effective defensive midfielder

Jorginho has proven his worth in Thomas Tuchel's side | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

He's been on the receiving end of some harsh criticism since joining the Blues and in the eyes of many, embodied a style of football under Maurizio Sarri the fans largely disapproved of.

However, under Tuchel he's played regularly and once again proved his worth in the second leg versus Porto - making the most tackles (8) in the Champions League for a Chelsea player since 2018.

The 29-year-old brings technical security and positional discipline and for a coach like Tuchel, that's key. Regardless of how he's played in the past, it's impossible to deny he's improved under the German - proving his doubters wrong.

Source: 90min