Messi and Ronaldo's Champions League exit stirs Liverpool optimism

2021-03-21

Liverpool, the holders of the Premier League title, are more optimistic of winning the Champions League this season, following the exit of Portuguese giants Cristiano Ronaldo, the Italian star of Juventus, and Argentine Lionel Messi, the Spanish captain of Barcelona, despite his stumbling period at the domestic level. Cristiano Ronaldo bid farewell to the current Champions League round of 16 with Juventus at the hands of Porto, after the Old Lady lost 1-2 to Portugal, before delivering an inadequate 3-2 home win at home. Lionel Messi and Barcelona came out of the same game against France's Paris Saint-Germain as the Catalan team lost by four goals in the go-ahead encounter at the Camp Nou and then drew 1-1 at the return encounter at the Princes Park. The last time Messi and Ronaldo missed the Champions League quarter-finals together were in 2004-2005, which saw Liverpool claim their fifth title in the competition, something the Reds boss Jurgen Klopp hopes to replicate in the current edition, especially as the Reds qualified for the quarter-finals. Liverpool, the holders of the 2019 title, advanced to the quarter-finals of the current edition with a 2-0 home win over Leipzig and a 2-0 away win at Budapest's pushback Arena. Ronaldo and Messi at the start In the 2004-2005 edition, Messi and Ronaldo were feeling their way into the Champions League, while they had no imprint during that edition. Messi made his first appearance in the Champions League, taking part in one match against Ukrainian Shakhtar Donetsk in the group stage, which ended in a two-goal loss to Barça. Barcelona was knocked out of the round of 16 by Chelsea, who won back-to-back at the Camp Nou with a 2-1 win but lost back-to-back in London 2-4. Ronaldo, on the other hand, took part in the Champions League for the second time in his history, playing 7 matches for his former Manchester United team, but only two goals in one match, against Olympique Lyonnais in the opening match. Manchester United bid farewell to the Champions League from the round of 16 at the hands of Milan, having twice beaten them 1-0 back and forth. Since that season, Messi and Ronaldo have not missed out on the quarter-finals of the most important European Championship, and each has made great history in the competition. Ronaldo has won 5 Champions League titles, one with Manchester United, four with Real Madrid, and scored 134 goals to establish himself as the tournament's leading scorer. In contrast, Messi has won four Champions League titles, all with Barcelona, while scoring 120 goals in second place on the historical scoresheet. What happened in the 2004-2005 version? In this edition, 8 teams qualified for the quarter-finals: French Lyon, Dutch PSV Eindhoven, German Bayern Munich, English Liverpool and Chelsea, Juventus, Inter Milan, and Italian AC Milan. Milan qualified for the semi-finals against PSV Eindhoven, and Chile against Liverpool. Milan beat PSV Eindhoven 2-0 at home and 1-3 away to qualify for the final on away goals rule. Liverpool, on the other hand, drew 0-0 with Chelsea in London, and then snatched the away goal. The final, held in Istanbul, Turkey, saw a Liverpool-like Epic, with the Italian team leading by three goals in the first half, the Reds came back with a historic "Remontada" and equalized in the second half, before winning the title on penalties. Four teams have secured their seats in the current edition of the Champions League, Borussia Dortmund, Porto, Liverpool, and Paris Saint-Germain, awaiting the other four cards next week.

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