It was an intense week of Champions League football with Tottenham edging out Manchester City 1-0 in their newly opened stadium. The Anfield, meanwhile, was coloured Red as Liverpool shrugged off FC Porto’s challenge with a 2-0 victory at home.
On Wednesday, Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the starting lineup and got back onto the scoresheet immediately as Ajax held Juventus at home to a 1-1 draw with David Neres scoring straight from the second half kick-off. The final game of the mid-week saw FC Barcelona scrap past Man Utd 1-0 at the Theatre of Dreams, winning only their second knockout away game in over 2 years.
The players and managers came out to give rallying cries, motivate the supporters and criticized their opponents in some salty and fiery interviews. Here are some of the biggest players giving their thoughts after the mid-week games:
“We have started well, we haven’t conceded yet. Hopefully we can start a reputation. Everyone is counting on Sonny. We’ll have Harry coming back from injury hopefully soon. Everyone needs to step up like we did before. We won I think all of our Premier League games without Harry and hopefully we can do it again.”
“It's a tough game, we played against a really good team. At times we performed well, at times we didn’t. We still have a game to go. I'm just angry that we didn't get a better result, but that's football. When you play against teams like this, you can’t concede goals like that. It is too easy. It happened, we just have to learn from it and move on.”
“Me and the gaffer just had a conversation. Obviously he saw the England games. I felt good playing in that position. I felt more natural. It’s basically what he wants and needs. I felt more comfortable and natural in that position for England, creating chances further up and doing what I enjoy doing. At the same time when I played No.6 I felt I’ve learned that position really well.”
“It was a balanced game with a couple of well-organized sides. We tried not to make mistakes and the team played very well defensively. On the attack, we also played some good football. The result is a bit tight but scoring away and not conceding is good for us. We can be happy as it is not easy to win here. We have to play the second leg but now we have the lead.”
Matthijs de Ligt:
“Ronaldo's greatest quality, apart from his talent, is that he is a predator in the box. He sees an opportunity, just a tiny gap, and he goes for it incredibly quickly. He sprints into the area between two players. I think we've done pretty well. We have a team with a lot of potential and that tends to emerge to its fullest in Champions League matches. We work so hard for each other. We proved today that Ajax are not in the Champions League quarter-finals because they are a fluke.”
“It was a good game, obviously we're playing against Barcelona, one of the best teams in the world. But we gave them some problems as well, they gave us some problems but we know where we can hurt them. Now it's one leg gone, we have the other one and we're going to give everything in this one. We're going to do everything we can to make it happen and we believe it.”
“He was just coming back, he ran a lot and he played a good game. He started the action and he wrapped it up. This is Ronaldo. But I would add that in the second leg we have to do better as a team. A team that is capable to eliminate Real Madrid and to win 4-1 at Bernabeu, they are not simply a young, quality team. We have to be much better because when you manage to escape from their pressure, you find a desert between you and the goal, which is something that happened in the first half, that happened in the second half, and that's where we have to be much better.”
Erik Ten Hag:
“I think we pushed our boundaries again this night. But if we want to reach the semi-finals, we have to put in a lot of effort in the next game. We played very mature for 99.9 per cent of the game, yes. There was only one moment in which we didn't pay attention. They immediately took advantage of that. If we want to beat them, we can't have weak moments against a club like this. If you don't pay attention for one second, they will punish you for that. So, we'll have to improve that.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:
“Of course, the PSG performance gives us hope and belief that we can do it. But we know we are playing against probably the favourites and going there will be a challenge. It'll be a greater achievement, winning that one, because of the history of Barcelona, they're not used to losing at home. But we can do it."
"After seeing what they did against PSG there's no reason at all to believe the tie is over. PSG were the clear favourites then, they played far better and look what happened. Anything can happen in football, so we'll have to focus very hard."
“Taking our chances and not conceding a goal, and play with more heart and b****cks. We have to believe and have the desire and more quality. Be better on the ball and then you never know what can happen in football. I don’t think we played with the same arrogance and confidence on the ball.”
"We were not brave enough in the game, there were many simple mistakes. I have the feeling that we are nervous in important Champions League games. In such games, we always want to do something special because it means: Champions League semi-finals. After the missed penalty came the break. Such negative experiences always throw us back too much. If we put the penalty in, we would have taken Tottenham apart. That’s how we got out of the game.”