Twitter reacts as Man City progress and Liverpool are dumped out of Champions League

And so this season’s Champions league quarter-finals come to an end.

Two English sides emerged to the last four of this season’s competition after Manchester City joined Chelsea in the semi-final following an impressive 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund, but it wasn’t to be for Liverpool as they couldn’t find a way past Real Madrid and were dumped out 3-1 on aggregate.

The first action of the night came out in Dortmund. Many people had Pep Guardiola’s side down as certain semi-finalist following their 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium last week, though a young Englishman had other ideas as he fired the home side into an early lead.

While Bellingham was flourishing over in Dortmund, Liverpool’s frontline weren’t having a quite so prosperous an evening.

The Reds carved out their fair share of opportunities to open the scoring at home to Real Madrid and afford themselves a foothold in the tie, but they just couldn’t seem to find a way through.

While Liverpool were struggling to break Real Madrid down, City weren’t having too comfortable an evening either as Dortmund camped in their own half in a bid to preserve their slender lead.

The home side proved to disciplined and resolute, but it only takes one weak link for the chain to fall apart…

With Riyad Mahrez converting the resulting penalty, City edged ahead on aggregate and so Dortmund began to flood forward in search of an illusive goal to take the tie into extra time.

However, another special English talent decided he was going to make his mark on the game after Bellingham had done likewise earlier on.

Over at Anfield, the clock was ticking closer and closer to 90 minutes and it really didn’t look like happening for the home side.

Still, at least they were absolutely busting a gut and giving it their all in a bid to give themselves one last hope of progression through to the last four.

Well, some of them were…

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Liverpool 0-0 Real Madrid: Player ratings as stalemate dumps Reds out

Liverpool’s poor finishing cost them as they were unable to find a way past Real Madrid at Anfield on Wednesday night and were dumped out of the Champions League 3-1 on aggregate.

The Reds flew out of the blocks and Thibaut Courtois twice had to rescue his side with good saves from Mohamed Salah and James Milner, though they were fired a warning shot shortly after as Karim Benzema struck the post.

The Reds began to get a grip on the game as the clock ticked towards half-time and Salah was yet again culpable of missing a gilt-edged chance before Georginio Wijnaldum missed an even better one – it was already beginning to look like one of those nights for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Liverpool continued to push for an opener but they spurned chance after chance and were eventually forced to admit defeat as they bowed out at the last eight stage.

That’s the match highlights out of the way, now to those Liverpool and Real Madrid player ratings…

Ozan Kabak runs away from Karim BenzemaOzan Kabak runs away from Karim Benzema
Ozan Kabak runs away from Karim Benzema | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Alisson (GK) – 6/10 – Made a big save from Vinicius Junior to keep his side in with a sniff of advancing to semi-final.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) – 6/10 – Surged forward down the right time and time again but some of the passes into him just weren’t up to standard.

Nathaniel Phillips (CB) – 7/10 – Looked very impressive stepping into midfield in the second half.

Ozan Kabak (CB) – 5/10 – Shaky early on and had to pull out a smart block to stop Luka Modric capitalising on his poor clearance. Hooked in the second half as Liverpool went in search of the opener.

Andy Robertson (LB) – 6/10 – His usual self down the left, bombing forward and trying to make things happen – it just wasn’t to be.

Georginio Wijnaldum chases Federico ValverdeGeorginio Wijnaldum chases Federico Valverde
Georginio Wijnaldum chases Federico Valverde | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Fabinho (DM) – 5/10 – Crunched Casemiro in the first half in the battle of the Brazilian midfielders. Recycled possession well but never looked like picking out the kind of pass his side needed.

Georginio Wijnaldum (CM) – 4/10 – Didn’t have the impact you’d expect on big occasions like this and fired a glorious opportunity over the bar just before half-time.

James Milner (CM) – 5/10 – Great effort in the first half almost found the top corner but he struggled to impact the game after that before being taken off in the second half.

Mohamed Salah had some great opportunities on the nightMohamed Salah had some great opportunities on the night
Mohamed Salah had some great opportunities on the night | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Mohamed Salah (RW) – 5/10 – Really should have put his side ahead on the night but was denied by Courtois, then spurned another great chance on the stroke of half-time.

Roberto Firmino (ST) – 5/10 – Had a glorious opportunity to play Trent Alexander-Arnold in but misplaced a simple pass. Not the kind of display Liverpool needed from their frontman.

Sadio Mane (LW) – 5/10 – Up against a makeshift right-back in
Federico Valverde he should have had a field day but he struggled at times.

Thiago Alcantara (CM) – 6/10

Diogo Jota (ST) – 6/10

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (CM) – N/A

Xherdan Shaqiri (LW) – N/A

Thibaut Courtois made some big savesThibaut Courtois made some big saves
Thibaut Courtois made some big saves | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Thibaut Courtois (GK) – 7/10 – Superb saves to deny Salah and Milner early on. Not given as much work to do late on as he might have expected.

Federico Valverde (RB) – 6/10 – Asked to fill in at right-back in the absence of Lucas Vazquez who picked up an injury against Barcelona and he did a decent job considering.

Eder Militao (CB) – 7/10 – Did well to marshal Roberto Firmino and never really broke a sweat on the night.

Nacho Fernandez (CB) – 7/10 – Won a couple of crucial headers as Liverpool desperately tried to create an opening with the clock ticking down.

Ferland Mendy (LB) – 5/10 – Didn’t surge forward as we’ve become used to and he was lucky Salah’s finishing let him down after losing the Egyptian a couple of times.

Casemiro made a very rash challenge on James Milner in the first halfCasemiro made a very rash challenge on James Milner in the first half
Casemiro made a very rash challenge on James Milner in the first half | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Casemiro (DM) – 6/10 – On the receiving end of a poor challenge from Fabinho in the first half and picked himself up before completely wiping Milner out in retaliation.

Toni Kroos (CM) – 7/10 – Cool as you like. Didn’t have the kind of possession he’s used to but used what he had well and stopped Liverpool creating any real pressure.

Luka Modric (CM) – 7/10 – Made the home team look daft at times with simple drops of the shoulder that left them closer to Goodison Park than Anfield.

Karim Benzema did a good job of linking up play with the midfieldKarim Benzema did a good job of linking up play with the midfield
Karim Benzema did a good job of linking up play with the midfield | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Marco Asensio (RW) – 5/10 – A bit of an anonymous performance. Made a couple of decent runs in behind but wasn’t picked out by his teammates.

Karim Benzema (ST) – 7/10 – Dropped into midfield to link up play and feed Real’s rapid wingers. Helped keep hold of the ball to allow his side to move further up the pitch.

Vinicius Junior (LW) – 6/10 – Far from the player we saw in the first leg last week but was still a threat on the break.

Alvaro Odriozola (RB) – 6/10

Rodrygo (RW) – 6/10

Isco (AM) – N/A

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Man Utd to ‘explore’ deal for £60m-rated Raphael Varane

Manchester United have been tipped to ‘explore’ a potential deal for Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane in their hunt for a centre-back partner for Harry Maguire this summer.

Varane has been heavily linked with United on and off for a decade, even before he sealed a high-profile transfer to Real Madrid from Lens while still a teenager in the summer of 2011. But the rumours have come back in 2021 as the Frenchman nears the final year of his contract in Spain.

Man Utd are in the market for a centre-back & Varane is proven at the highest levelMan Utd are in the market for a centre-back & Varane is proven at the highest level
Man Utd are in the market for a centre-back & Varane is proven at the highest level | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

There has been no indication that an agreement over a new deal for Varane to extend his Bernabeu stay is close and Real will have to consider selling him this summer if he makes it clear that he is prepared to run down his current contract and potentially leave as a free agent in 2022.

United are in the market for a centre-back but have generally been exploring younger options, whittling down a shortlist of possible targets to Jules Kounde, 22, or Pau Torres, 24. But Varane, despite his years at the highest level, will only turn 28 later this month.

His contract situation adds a degree of opportunism and the Daily Mail suggests that United have been given ‘encouragement’ he is ready to leave Real.

Los Blancos could still ask as much as £60m for Varane, with player sales set to be a major source of funding for their own transfer activity this year, but there could also be competition for his signature from Paris Saint-Germain. He was born and raised in Lille in the north eastern corner of France, before moving to nearby Lens, but it is suggested he was still a PSG fan growing up.

Man Utd have primarily been eyeing younger targets like Pau TorresMan Utd have primarily been eyeing younger targets like Pau Torres
Man Utd have primarily been eyeing younger targets like Pau Torres | David Ramos/Getty Images

Even if Kounde or Torres remain the priority, Varane’s potential availability could change the overall situation if there is a genuine chance to sign him. He is proven at the highest level, having won four Champions League trophies and the World Cup, and would be a similar price. It is even said that United would try and negotiate Real’s expected asking price down from £60m.

When former United captain Gary Neville was recently asked to name the player he would most want to bring in from a rival club this summer, the answer he gave was Varane.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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Thomas Tuchel reveals Chelsea’s preferred Champions League semi-final opponent

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has revealed that he would prefer to face Real Madrid over Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals, having seen his own team reach the last four on Tuesday night by holding onto an aggregate lead against Porto.

Mehdi Taremi spectacularly scored the only goal of the second leg , which was played on neutral soil in Spain as a result of coronavirus restrictions, but the stoppage time strike wasn’t enough to hurt Chelsea after they had beaten Porto 2-0 in the first leg.

With the knockout bracket already predetermined and the semi-final draw made at the same time as the quarter-final draw last month, Chelsea know that their opponent in the next round is either Real Madrid or Liverpool, depending on which club prevails on Wednesday night.

Real hold a 3-1 aggregate lead over Liverpool from the first leg and Tuchel has said that he would prefer it if Chelsea’s semi-final is against Los Blancos, largely for the sake of variety and staying more within the true spirit of an international competition.

Chelsea have already played Liverpool twice this season and the two sides have met on three occasions in each of the two previous campaign as well thanks to additional cup games.

“In general, I like not to play against teams from your same league in the Champions League as it gives more of a feeling of a European competition but that is the only thing,” Tuchel said, quoted by the Daily Mail.

Real Madrid hold a 3-1 aggregate lead over LiverpoolReal Madrid hold a 3-1 aggregate lead over Liverpool
Tuchel would rather Chelsea play Real Madrid next | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

“The game [between Liverpool and Real] is far from over but I will watch it for sure. Everything is possible. Liverpool are very strong at home so we take what we get. It is a good situation for us.”

Ordinarily, Liverpool might have been hopeful of being able to overturn the aggregate deficit at Anfield, especially after completing an even greater comeback against Barcelona in 2019. But Jurgen Klopp admitted last week that it will be a completely different task without fans.

This season marks only the second time that Chelsea have reached the Champions League semi-finals since the Blues famously lifted the trophy in 2012. Their last trip to this stage ended with defeat to Atletico Madrid in 2014.

Liverpool must overturn the aggregate deficit without fans at AnfieldLiverpool must overturn the aggregate deficit without fans at Anfield
Jurgen Klopp has admitted Liverpool face a difficult task | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Chelsea previously reached at least the semi-finals in five seasons out of six in the 2000s, under the guidance of Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho and Avram Grant.

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Hansi Flick refuses to rule out Bayern Munich exit

Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick has hinted at a possible departure from the club at the end of the season, with speculation rife that he will succeed Joachim Low as Germany national team coach after this summer’s delayed European Championship finals.

Flick has been in charge at Bayern for less than two years after replacing Niko Kovac, initially on an interim basis, in November 2019. He then finished his first season with a spectacular Champions League triumph as Bayern won every game en route to lifting the trophy.

Flick guided Bayern to Champions League glory last seasonFlick guided Bayern to Champions League glory last season
Flick guided Bayern to Champions League glory last season | MATTHEW CHILDS/Getty Images

But despite Bayern being on course for another Bundesliga title, 90min revealed earlier this week that there is a feeling Flick could leave at the end of the campaign, even though club officials are understandably keen to see him stay because of the successes of last season.

Speaking after Bayern’s Champions League elimination at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night, Flick insisted his relationship with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, which is rumoured to be strained, is ‘stable’. But he didn’t rule out a departure either.

“I have a contract with FC Bayern, but I always think about what’s going to happen or how things will continue, whether everything is going well here and so on,” Flick told Sky Deutschland.

Joachim Low is stepping down as Germany coach in JulyJoachim Low is stepping down as Germany coach in July
Joachim Low is stepping down as Germany coach in July | Alex Grimm/Getty Images

“My family is behind me, no matter what my decision is, whether it is at the DFB,” he added.

“My relationship with Salihamidzic is stable. Nothing will change that. He has his job, I have mine. I will keep doing as I have done all season, which is why everything is stable.”

It has already been announced that Low will be stepping down from his role as Germany boss after the Euro 2020 tournament after 15 years in charge of Die Mannschaft, leaving open one of the biggest jobs in international management.

Bayern are prepared to approach Jurgen Klopp if Flick leavesBayern are prepared to approach Jurgen Klopp if Flick leaves
Bayern are prepared to approach Jurgen Klopp if Flick leaves | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp has been linked with it as well, but 90min understands that Bayern are prepared to test how committed he is to Liverpool should Flick leave and take the Germany job.

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