Surprise package: Galatasaray
Many looked at Galatasaray’s team at the start of the Champions League season thinking they were a team with a few decent players, but nothing that would create any real waves in Europe’s elite club competition.
In reality, they surprised many after a disappointing start where they only had one point after three games. With some excellent performances by Turkish striker Burak Yìlmaz including a hat trick away to Cluj, Galatasaray found a way to get second place in their group.
Many thought this was where the journey would end, but a 3-2 victory away to Schalke after a 1-1 home score put them through, with the added help of champions league winners Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder.
Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over the Turkish champions at the Bernabeù looked to have dumped Galatasaray out, but in the second leg Galatasaray went from 1-0 down to 3-1, needing two goals to go through.
Real Madrid managed to make it 3-2, but the buzz around the Turk Telecom was unforgettable, a bit like Galatasaray’s campaign.
Biggest flop: Manchester City
Hopes for Manchester City were high after an incredible league success the season before, but their campaign turned out to be a massive letdown that has now appeared to at least partially cost Roberto Mancini his job.
Despite being in the “group of death” or “group of champions” with Ajax, Real Madrid and finalists Borussia Dortmund, not winning a single game was a colossal failure on the part of a club who’ve spent such huge sums in acquiring their squad. They were unlucky to lose 3-2 to Madrid on match-day one, but they were outclassed both home and away by Borussia Dortmund and were lucky to draw to them at home.
Ajax too beat the Citizens in Amsterdam, and drew 2-2 in Manchester, meaning City finished bottom of the group. A painfully disappointing campaign.
Best goal: Luis Alberto (CFR Cluj) vs. Manchester United
Few would have seen Luis Alberto play previously to CFR Cluj’s Champions League adventure this season, but the little known Brazilian produced his own memorable moment in this season’s UEFA Champions League in the game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Cluj needed to win and hope Galatasaray didn’t in order to go through, and despite being heavily unfancied to win away to the Red Devils they did thanks to Alberto’s goal, but Galatasaray won as well.
Nonetheless, Luis Alberto’s 30-yard strike that sped into the net beyond the outstretched arm of David de Gea will be a goal that will live long in the memory of every CFR Cluj fan.
Best Game: Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Málaga
After a somewhat drab and edgy 0-0 draw in Spain in the first leg of this quarter final, most expected Dortmund to comfortably beat their opponents in front of their oh so passionate fans. However, an early goal from the experienced Joaquin gave Málaga a 1-0 lead and a pivotal away goal. Robert Lewandowski then produced a great run and finish to put Dortmund level on the night, but behind on away goals.
And then the controversy began; as Dortmund pushed forward, Málaga broke and Eliseu tapped in from two yards and despite being in a clearly offside position, the goal was given. However Dortmund weren’t going out lying down, they bombarded the Málaga goal, with Reus scoring to make it 2-2, still not enough for victory.
With a minute left of stoppage time, Reus shot across goal and after a scramble Felipe Santana tapped in to make it 3-2, yet replays showed he too was offside.
Dortmund didn’t care though as Signal Iduna Park erupted in elation and inspired Dortmund to the final, which they would narrowly lose to fellow Germans, Bayern Munich.
An incredible game in an incredible atmosphere in an incredible season for Bayern Munich.
Best XI: Weidenfeller, Lahm, Dante, Varane, Alaba, Gündôgan, Schweinsteiger, Müller, Ronaldo, Yìlmaz, Lewandowski
Honourable menitons: Schweinsteiger, Neuer, Marchisio, Martinez, Robben, Ibrahimovic, Matuidi, Messi, Isco, Pirlo
Written by Joshua Sodergren
Follow Joshua on Twitter @chelsealad1365
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