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Champions League last-16 review: Strongest minds destined to advance

COMMENT: The Champions League has become an extremely niche and dense competition where team's tightness is marginalised to finest players and it is those who express the courage and evasive minds who go through and prevail.

Juventus proved that in the last 16 against Tottenham. Real Madrid, who have altogether dispelled any hint of glory in La Liga, punished a detached PSG side.

The French giants should have scored and took charge of the second leg early on. Instead, Cristiano Ronaldo's goal tore a vein through PSG's hearts. Frustration then bore out through Marco Verratti. Despite scoring, it was another night where the billionaire owners in Paris were pondering or straining in their minds how much more have they got to spend, even without Neymar.

Juventus will now have sights on winning the competition, and they will want too. Beaten finalists last year, they will see it as a necessity to ensure at least a semi-final berth.

They will also want to do Davide Astori proud. If they do win the European Cup this year, Juventus players will be held in the country's hearts forever.

The competition is somewhat condensed and it is being exampled that teams can qualify through nous, ambition and elegance.

Liverpool's elegance on the ball, particularly when on the offensive, has the ability to breathe life into Europe's premier competition. It's a question of whether they hold the intelligence in defence which will be the key to their successful progression.

Ronaldo's expertise will remain key to Real Madrid, while his former club Manchester United's lack of ambition on Tuesday night was the polar opposite of Sevilla's.

The away team's endeavour, passion and teamwork in coalition overpowered Mourinho's side who could not create the same sort of momentum in their play.

Chelsea, although fairing better than their English counterparts against Barcelona on Wednesday, were undone by a little Argentinian.

It was Lionel Messi's ability again which ultimately settled the tie, which leads us to the conclusion.

Overall, the team which wins this competition will do so with the talent of course. But they will also do it with the subtle intelligence of their minds and the player's bravery when on the ball. It is the team who shows the greatest steel in adversity who will go the furthest.

Joe Baker
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Joe Baker

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