Joan Monfort/Associated Press
Barcelona and Bayern Munich are off to the Champions League quarterfinals after relatively drama-free wins Saturday.
The Catalan giants knocked off Napoli 3-1 (4-2 on aggregate), while the Bavarians took down Chelsea 4-1 (7-1 on aggregate) in a pair of matches that held their first legs all the way back in February before the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to Europe’s top competition.
Below, we’ll break down some of the top winners and losers from Saturday.
Winner: Lionel Messi
Just watch this goal:
That is poetry on a pitch.
It’s incredible that at the age of 33—with an entire career of breathtaking goals behind him—Messi is still capable of surprise. Everyone already knows of his legend, and yet when he shows you the full magnitude of his footballing genius, it still leaves you stunned.
He had the entire world buzzing Saturday:
And Messi’s dominance has become a regular fixture in our lives. His Champions League career is old enough to get its driver’s license:
But Saturday was a reminder not to take Messi for granted while we have him. This goal will likely get lost in his career of personal achievements, stunning highlights and team triumphs. But we don’t know how many moments like it he has left in the tank. Best to appreciate them now.
Loser: Chelsea’s Back 4
Fresh off allowing Arsenal’s Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang to score a brace in the FA Cup final, Chelsea’s defense was shredded by Bayern’s dangerous attack, giving up four goals in total and a brace to Robert Lewandowski.
It was an embarrassing showing for a Chelsea side that otherwise had a solid 2019-20 campaign:
Nizaar Kinsella @NizaarKinsella
Bayern 4-1 Chelsea (7-1 on agg)
The 1st time Chelsea have ever conceded 7 goals in a two-legged tie.
For the 4th time in a row, #CFC exit the #UCL in the last 16. Last time they got through was in 2013/14.
Only one lesson learned tonight: this level is beyond the club now
And much as in the FA Cup final, much of the blame could be laid at the feet of the defense:
At the highest level, the likes of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen aren’t going to cut it. If Chelsea wants to advance deeper in Europe, the defense needs a makeover.
Winner: Robert Lewandowski
Messi stole many of the headlines, but Lewandowski was incredible for Bayern in both legs of its matchup with Chelsea.
Just look at these absurd stats:
7 – Robert Lewandowski was involved in all seven of Bayern Munich’s goals against Chelsea in the Champions League this season (3 goals, 4 assists). He was the first player to register 3+ goals and assists against an opponent in a season since Luis Figo in 2004/05 vs Roma. Heaven. https://t.co/6YnMObD34i
Lewandowski remains one of the world’s most clinical finishers. That he has so much talent setting the table for him makes Bayern one of the favorites to win this competition and an enormous threat to Barca in the quarterfinals.
Loser: Napoli’s Champions League Future
After finishing seventh on the Serie A table, Napoli’s only chance at returning to the Champions League was to win the tournament. That was always a long shot, but those dreams officially died Saturday.
Napoli’s otherwise disappointing season did include a Coppa Italia triumph and automatic entry into the Europa League, so all was not lost. But there will be no Champions League for the Naples side next season.