Champions League 2018-19: The greatest tournament ever?

Liverpool obtained the Champions League – though the final was one of basically the most disappointing video games in the knockout stages

Liverpool beat Tottenham 2-Zero in Madrid to bring to an discontinue a sensational Champions League season.

With dramatic comebacks, an all-English final, a magnificent Ajax crew and a few no longer doubtless heroes, it is miles a season which would maybe are living long in the memory.

BBC Sport appears to be like at one of the season’s highlights, alongside side some colorful pictures from earlier rounds.

So many comebacks

Marcus Rashford beat Gianluigi Buffon – who has never obtained the Champions League – from the situation for the first of three infamous English comebacks

There had been so many huge comebacks in the previous couple of Champions League seasons that it will doubtless be simple to develop into numb to the very understanding.

But this season’s knockout video games raised the bar, with Ajax, Manchester United and Juventus improbably turning around first-leg deficits, after which Liverpool and Spurs famously preventing help to realize the final.

Initially in the final 16, Ajax overturned a 2-1 first-leg defeat at home to champions Right Madrid to take 4-1 at the Bernabeu and 5-Three on aggregate.

It was a end result that despatched shockwaves by arrangement of Europe, ending Right’s 1,011-day reign as European champions and costing Santiago Solari his job.

The following day, Manchester United precipitated but any other shock. They misplaced 2-Zero to Paris St-Germain in the first leg at Worn Trafford and regarded destined for a European exit.

At that stage, statisticians Gracenote calculated United had a 5% chance of progressing – which was better than Ajax’s 4% a day earlier.

They led 2-1 going into worry-time however had been indifferent heading out until a conversional handball decision – awarded in worry-time after a pitchside video review by the referee – gave Marcus Rashford the prospect to ranking from the situation.

The subsequent week it was the flip of Juventus to pull off an no longer doubtless end result, after they misplaced 2-Zero to Atletico Madrid – who host this year’s final – of their first leg in Spain.

Further progress in the competition regarded a long shot in the return tie against Diego Simeone’s legendary defence, however Cristiano Ronaldo did what he does most efficient, scoring a hat-trick that integrated an 86th-minute penalty, to knock Atleti out.

But then came the semis, and two nights of soccer that will are living with many fans eternally.

Liverpool had been given a 4% chance of going by arrangement of after shedding Three-Zero at the Nou Camp.

But Divock Origi (more on him later) and Georginio Wijnaldum scored twice each to ship the Reds by arrangement of on but any other infamous Anfield evening.

That was, remarkably, no longer even basically the most dramatic English comeback of the week.

Simplest 24 hours later, Tottenham did in 35 minutes what Liverpool had 90 to total, as Lucas Moura scored a second-half hat-trick, alongside side a 96th-minute winner, in Amsterdam to knock out Ajax on away dreams.

If reality be told, half of the 14 knockout ties this season had been obtained by a crew given decrease than a one in three chance of progress after the first leg by Gracenote.

Ajax catch Europe’s hearts, Spurs plot help from the brink often

Though their high-tail ended in heartbreaking type at the semi-final stage, Ajax had been arguably the crew of the tournament.

The Dutch aspect reached the final 4 for the first time since 1997 with a squad largely corpulent of unprecedented younger skills, alongside Dusan Tadic and Daley Blind, quite unheralded recruits from the Premier League who cost a combined £24m.

After ending Right’s European reign in the final 16, they did the the same to Ronaldo’s high-tail of Champions League success when they knocked out his Juventus crew in the quarter-finals.

Arrangement more grand was the reality they had to plot help by arrangement of three rounds of qualifiers to even function the neighborhood stages, with a Champions League campaign that ran from July 2018 to Can also 2019.

The sad part for Ajax fans – and soccer romantics – is that this crew is no longer going to derive but any other crack at the Champions League next season.

Midfielder Frenkie de Jong has agreed to join Barcelona for £65m, with 19-year-well-liked captain Matthijs de Ligt and Morocco winger Hakim Ziyech amongst the others expected to circulate.

Spurs’ high-tail to the final is one that no longer too many folks expected. The membership have absolute most life like obtained one trophy this millennium – the 2008 League Cup – and do not have any longer signed a player since January 2018.

They had been on the verge of elimination 5 times this season, however by some capability saved progressing.

Mauricio Pochettino’s aspect had been 12 minutes some distance from going out in the fourth neighborhood game, until Harry Kane’s unhurried double against PSV saved them in the high-tail.

Then they had been 10 minutes some distance from elimination in the next game until Christian Eriksen’s unhurried winner against Inter Milan.

They left it even later in the final neighborhood game, with Lucas Moura’s Eighty fifth-minute equaliser against Barcelona taking them into the final 16.

And but it was the knockout stages that took them even nearer to the brink. An worry-time Raheem Sterling goal for Manchester Metropolis regarded as if it would maybe well knock them out in the quarter-finals, before a video assistant referee review dominated that Sergio Aguero was offside and the goal was dominated out, with Spurs going by arrangement of on away dreams.

And they also experienced great more drama of their semi-final as Moura seen them previous Ajax.

Impressively, they managed both these victories without huge establish striker Kane.

The Champions League’s no longer doubtless heroes

Admittedly, the two Champions League prime scorers are global icons Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski. But one of the right kind legends of this season’s competition have caught each person without warning.

Deliver us an particular individual who concept upfront that Tadic, Moura or Origi will doubtless be amongst basically the most influential gamers in the tournament and we are going to reveal you a liar.

Dusan Tadic helped Ajax to the Dutch domestic double and scored 38 dreams in all competitions

Tadic joined Ajax final June from Southampton for £10m, a immense fee by Dutch soccer requirements however peanuts for Europe’s elite.

The Serbia forward, now 30, was a ravishing player in his 4 seasons for the Saints, however no more than that, managing 24 dreams in 162 video games. He had passed that goalscoring figure for Ajax by February.

Tadic, who scored seven dreams in 2017-18 for Southampton, scored 9 in the Champions League on my own for Ajax, alongside side three in the qualifying rounds. About a of his displays, most notably at the Bernabeu, had been breathtaking.

He’s the Champions League’s joint third prime scorer this season – with six dreams to boot to 4 assists.

One goal and two assists came in a surely grand performance in the 4-1 demolition of Right Madrid. It was a new that earned him a uncommon 10/10 ranking from French newspaper L’Equipe.

Arrangement more no longer doubtless was the importance of Liverpool’s Origi. The Reds had been overjoyed to sell or mortgage the Belgium striker final summer season however he ended up staying at Anfield.

Origi had absolute most life like managed 492 minutes all season for Liverpool – though that integrated two dramatic Premier League winning dreams against Everton and Newcastle – before their Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona.

With Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino out, Jurgen Klopp was trying choices in the forward line so began Origi, who had never previously scored a goal in the Champions League.

However the wildcard netted twice in the 4-Zero second-leg take, alongside side the winner from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s like a flash corner.

He even came on in Saturday’s final to ranking the goal to clinch Liverpool’s sixth European Cup. Three pictures, three dreams reads his Champions League narrative this season.

Divock Origi has scored three Champions League dreams in his career – all in Liverpool’s final two video games

Tottenham don’t have any longer signed a player since 31 January 2018. But their most most accepted signing has proved to be an fabulous one, Moura joining from perennial Champions League failures Paris St-Germain.

Out and in of the Spurs crew final season and for parts of this campaign, Moura answered the call when Spurs wished any individual to possess the centre-forward feature left vacant by the injured Kane.

The Brazil forward, whose unhurried goal against Barcelona in the neighborhood stages took them into the final 16, produced an great more grand intervention with that hat-trick against Ajax.

He was unhappy to be unnoticed of the final line-up following Kane’s return – though he did plot on and have a scoring chance in Madrid.

One other unheralded player to shine on this season’s Champions League was Porto’s 28-year-well-liked Mali striker Moussa Marega.

He had never scored a European goal in his career before netting in six consecutive Champions League video games this season.

That tally left him because the joint third prime scorer, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Aguero and Tadic.

More unhurried dreams than ever before

If it feels as if there had been more unhurried Champions League dreams than customary this season, that is because there had been.

Some 70 dreams – alongside side Origi’s in the final – had been scored in the final 10 minutes of video games, more than another season for the reason that most accepted structure of the Champions League was brought in for 2003-04.

That is eleven more than final season’s tournament.

This season ranks joint second for final-gasp dreams, with 27 scored in the Ninetieth minute or worry time, as hostile to beyond regular time. The narrative is the 29 scored in 2011-12.

With 366 dreams, this has been the fourth prime-scoring Champions League season since 2003-04. The absolute most life like scoring two seasons had been the previous two – 401 in 2017-18 and 380 the previous season.

Iconic photos

There had been so many memorable moments – and pictures – to emerge from this season’s Champions League. Listed below are a different of them…

Loads of Ajax gamers simultaneously collapsed with heartbreak after Spurs’ unhurried winner
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner – while Barcelona’s defence had been slowly organising themselves – chanced on an unmarked Divock Origi to ranking Liverpool’s winner
PSG winger Angel di Maria pretended to drink a beer thrown at him on a cool return to Worn Trafford
The injured Neymar known as Manchester United’s VAR-awarded penalty winner “a disgrace” in a social media rant after the game. He was banned for 3 matches this capability that
Mauricio Pochettino went by arrangement of a vary of emotions after Spurs’ take over Ajax, slumping on the pitch in tears at one level. Here is one of him taking a stare more happy
Pep Guardiola and Manchester Metropolis’s workers well-known what they concept was Raheem Sterling’s final-gasp winner against Tottenham…
… however glee became to woe when it was dominated out by VAR
No need for VAR right here as Thomas Muller was shown a straight pink for this rotten on Nicolas Tagliafico in the neighborhood stages

And because right here’s a Champions League piece, it would maybe well no longer surely feel ravishing to depart without photos of these two…

Lionel Messi scored a colorful free-kick against Liverpool, one of his 12 Champions League dreams in 10 video games
Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer a European champion for the first time since 2015 – however he did indifferent ranking a hat-trick to knock out Atletico Madrid

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