The UEFA Championship League, the most prestigious annual soccer tournament, gives the sport’s top teams a chance to call themselves the best in the world.
The start of the knockout rounds featured Bayern Munich, looking to claim its fourth consecutive UEFA title against Porto, the #1 ranked team in Group H.
Due to the injuries of five key players—David Alaba, Mehdi Benatia, Javi Martinez, Tom Starke and Arjen Robben—Bayern Munich faced an uphill battle.
Porto, on the other hand, was down three players—two for suspensions and another for a thigh injury.
In a surprise victory, Porto won the first match of the series 3-1. In the first three minutes, winger Ricardo Quaresma, robbed defenseman Holger Badstuber, and was fouled by the goalkeeper. Quaresma capitalized on his penalty kick and Porto took the lead. Just as Bayern was regaining momentum, Jackson Martinez broke away, intercepted a pass 40 yards down the field, and taped it passed the keeper— the last nail in Bayern’s coffin.
Quaresma, who recently hit his prime at age 31, was a crucial for Porto all season. His experience on Barcelona gave him a chance to compete against the best players in the world, which elevated his game. As transfer rumors circulate, Porto looks to hang onto this key impact player.
In the second match, however, Bayern rebounded in a crushing 6-1 victory. The turning point came in the 36th minute as Thomas Muller attempted a picture-perfect shot 25 yards out, and nailed the bottom right corner. At this point, Bayern took a commanding 4-0 lead, one too large for Porto to overcome.
After splitting the series, Bayern’s overall solid showing bodes well for their upcoming, final four matchup against Barcelona. Down 5 players, they handed a crushing defeat to a team known for its consistent play. Bayern looks to ride this momentum past Barcelona, and through the championship game.
May the best team win.