Barcelona and Liverpool rounded out the last eight of the UEFA Champions League after both progressed from the Round of 16 on Wednesday night.
A Lionel Messi-inspired Barca thrashed Lyon 5-1 at the Camp Nou, while Liverpool produced a fine 3-1 win away to Bayern Munich. Sadio Mane bagged a brace for the Reds as last season’s beaten finalists rediscovered the scoring touch after a goalless draw at Anfield in the first leg.
The Blaugrana are worthy among the favourites with oddsmakers after Messi once again turned on the style in a competition he has dominated. He opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 17th minute and then added a spectacular second 12 minutes from time.
Barca also got goals from Philippe Coutinho, Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele. Lucas Tousart had given Lyon hope with an away goal just before the hour mark, but Barcelona’s experience and superior attacking quality made the difference during a clutch late flurry from the five-time winners.
While Barca relied on several moments of individual quality, Liverpool offered a complete performance in Munich. The Reds were compact and disciplined defensively, as well as swift and smart on the break.
Liverpool’s pace on the counter punished the hosts after 26 minutes when Mane deftly rounded Manuel Neuer in the Bayern goal before coolly chipping into an empty net.
Die Roten weren’t playing well enough to merit a slice of luck but still got one six minutes before the break when Joel Matip got an unfortunate touch to Serge Gnabry’s cross.
Rather than being the cue for Bayern to assert themselves, Matip’s own goal actually encouraged Liverpool to be more decisive after the break. Virgil Van Dijk headed in a corner, before Mane got his head to a cross from Mohamed Salah late on.
Few teams are as difficult to break down as Liverpool thanks to a packed and industrious midfield protecting a well-drilled and athletic back four. Similarly, not many can match the Reds’ sudden and ruthless efficiency on the break.
They are more balanced at both ends of the pitch than Premier League rivals Manchester City and Manchester United. It makes last season’s beaten finalists good value to go one better at 4-1.
Friday’s draw for the last eight and semi-final stage will likely see the odds shift again, with little to choose between those remaining.