When it comes to team spirit on the pitch, ‘all for one and one for all’ is the prevailing motto. Although this age-old sentiment is as true as it is wise, it is the beautiful game’s superstars that provide the icing on the cake, take the fans’ breath away and cause entire stadiums to erupt in amazement.
This week’s UEFA Champions League quarter-finals boasted more top-drawer performances from the world’s greatest players – none more so than Cristiano Ronaldo. In contrast, defending champions Barcelona suffered a shock exit from the competition after coming up short against Real Madrid’s city rivals Atletico.
FIFA.com looks back at the second legs of the last eight, where the Madrid duo, English side Manchester City and record German champions Bayern Munich secured their places in the next round. The semi-final draw will take place on Friday 15 April.
Results Real Madrid 3-0 Wolfsburg (first leg 0-2) Manchester City 1-0 Paris Saint-Germain (first leg 2-2) Benfica 2-2 Bayern Munich (first leg 0-1) Atletico Madrid 2-0 Barcelona (first leg 1-2)
Memorable moments The Superstar Show – part one "That was one of my best nights in the Champions League,” was Cristiano Ronaldo’s verdict after his hat-trick heroics against Wolfsburg. When asked about his incredible tally of 16 goals in ten UEFA Champions League matches this season, the Portuguese star – who levelled the tie with a 120-second brace in the 16th and 17th minutes of the second leg – simply answered: “Scoring goals is just part of my DNA!”
The Superstar Show – part two Kevin de Bruyne is a considerably more understated master of his craft, a character trait that remains unchanged even after his €70m move to Manchester City last summer. Nonetheless, this shyness did not stop the Belgian from singlehandedly turning the quarter-final against PSG in the English team’s favour. Having scored the opener in the first leg, he found the net with a curling shot in the 76th minute of Tuesday’s match to hand the Citizens a 1-0 win, guiding Manuel Pellegrini's side to their first Champions League semi-final. “Quality settles competitions,” said goalkeeper Joe Hart. “Luckily our main man from Belgium settled it tonight.”
The Superstar Show – part three De Bruyne was to Manchester City what Arturo Vidal has been for Bayern Munich in this round. After scoring the only goal of the first leg, the Chilean also made the difference at the Estadio da Luz, hammering the ball home from the edge of the penalty area in the 38th minute to put Bayern on course for the last four.
The Superstar Show – part four Champions League holders Barcelona will not forget Antoine Griezmann’s name in a hurry. The Frenchman eliminated the Catalan side from Europe’s biggest club competition practically singlehandedly with his second-leg brace – a 36th minute strike and an 88th minute penalty – despite failing to find the target in six previous meetings with Barça in an Atletico shirt.
Navas’s 80-metre run pays off 75 minutes into Tuesday’s clash at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Real won a free-kick 25 metres from the Wolfsburg goal. As Ronaldo made his preparations, Los Blancos goalkeeper Keylor Navas sprinted up behind his Portuguese team-mate to whisper something in his ear. “I told him he should take a slower run-up and believe that he will score,” the 29-year-old revealed to radio station Cadena Ser after the final whistle. “You see, when he takes free-kicks, I often focus on the ball and carefully watch to see how he does it. By doing that, we’ve often noticed that when he takes a slightly slower run-up, the ball always ends up in the back of the net.” His tip paid off seconds later as the three-time FIFA Ballon d’Or recipient buried the resulting free-kick to wrap up a 3-0 win for his team.**
The stat 103 – Philipp Lahm made his 103rd Champions League appearance in Lisbon to draw level with legendary goalkeeper Oliver Kahn as the tournament’s most capped German player. Despite this impressive tally, the world champion has yet to score a goal in Europe’s most prestigious club competition – another record.
Decisive goal *Atletico Madrid – Barcelona Goal: 1-0, Antoine Griezmann (36’)*
Jordi Alba’s attempted clearance landed at the feet of Gabi, who passed to Saul on the right-hand side of the penalty area. The midfielder quickly crossed the ball with the outside of his boot to unmarked France striker Antoine Griezmann, who headed the ball into the back of the net.