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Football

Five things we learned from the Champions League quarter finals

Messi has scored 45 goals so far this season (Agency Photos)

1. Lionel Messi is the best player in the World.

Over the years, the debate of who is the best player in the World is has continued to rage on as both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have performed beyond expectation.

Between the two, they have won 10 Balon d’or title, something that could never have been anticipated before the two took center stage, just over 10 years ago.

On Tuesday, as Ronaldo and his Juventus were losing 2-1 at home to a youthful Ajax team, Messi was masterminding a 3-0 victory over Manchester United at the Camp Nou, one that saw Barcelona march onto the semi finals 4-0 on aggregate.

The performance on Tuesday coupled with his 45 goals in 42 games this season, sums up the debate of who will win the 2019 Balon d’or, which would be Messi’s sixth overall.

2. Tottenham are growing by the day.

Gone are the days when Tottenham worried about Harry Kane’s absence. Back then, every one of the Spurs faithful would sink their head at news that their best player is out of a crucial game.

Spurs reached the semi finals minus star-player Harry Kane who is currently injured.

On Wednesday, Spurs came face to face with arguably the best team in the Premier League (Man City) and probably the world but ended up upstaging Pep Guardiola’s side and seal a spot in the semifinals of the Champions League.

Yes they may be struggling in the Premier League and not sure of their participation in Europe’s premier competition next season but the signs that Mauricio Pochettino’s side are growing by the day, are at least there to be seen by everyone.

3. Ajax are the darling of European football.

Whoever thought that money is everything in football, must rethink again. Ajax, a team that has been built on a budget that is below 100 Million pounds is in the last four of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League season.

Not that they don’t spend, of course they do but not even close to what the rest of the semifinalists do, on an annual basis.

Under the management of Erik ten Hag, the Amsterdam club has become the darling of European football of late and after knocking out both Real Madrid and Juventus.

Ajax have eliminated both Real Madrid and Juventus from the Champions league this season.

The team which has an average age of just over 23 years, is dreaming of shocking the football world by winning a first champions league title since 1995. Next in line for them is Tottenham Hotspurs and who would dare to say Ajax cannot get past the Londoners?

4. Jurgen Klopp may end his trophy drought sooner than later.

Jurgen Klopp is knowing for helping his sides finish second on more occasions than getting the job done.

In his time at Liverpool, the German coach has been second best in the two most prestigious competitions in Europe and has also lost the Carling Cup final. But despite all the beautiful football and a scary team which attacks everyone that stands in their way, Liverpool are yet to win anything in terms of trophies under the German tactician.

Klopp has already lost three finals as a Liverpool manager.

This season, they are into the Champions League semifinals and must negotiate past the tournament favourites Barcelona to play the final in Madrid. In the League, the Reds are currently neck to neck with defending champions Man City with only four rounds to play.

Could this be Klopp’s year? May be, after all he could have earned it big time.

5. Man United are a long way off the best in Europe.

Looking at Man United lose 3-0 to Barcelona on Tuesday, i could not help but realize how far the Red Devils have fallen behind amongst the elite in Europe.

United lost 3-0 to Barcelona on Tuesday to exit the Champions League at the quarter final stage.

Despite having a few stars in the team, United could just not come close to Barca on the day and in the tie overall which is something that was unimaginable under Sir. Alex Ferguson.

After the departure of the great Scotsman, four permanent coaches down the road, United just can’t put themselves back together and despite spending loads of money on new players, the team looks miles behind the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

I know it will take time but United need to bridge the gap between themselves and the elite of the European game as soon as possible, otherwise, such scenes like those at the Camp Nou, will start feeling as normal.

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