Winners and Losers from the weekend: Bayern humiliate Barcelona as English teams crash out
Our round-up of the highs and lows from another weekend of sporting action
This weekend’s sport saw both Manchester sides crash out of Europe, with another European giant finding themselves completely humiliated.
Elsewhere, a snooker player backed up a contentious interview with another masterclass, while an F1 driver returned to winning ways.
Here are the weekend’s winners and losers…
Bayern Munich & Robert Lewandowski
While the 8-2 scoreline on Friday evening game the game a farcical feel, few eyebrows were truly raised by Bayern heavily beating a below-par Barcelona side. The German champions have dominated virtually every game they’ve taken part in since the Bundesliga restarted back in May. Their record now reads 13 wins in 13 games, with 45 goals scored.
In Robert Lewandowski, Bayern have the world’s most in-form striker. While he may not possess the game-changing genius of a Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo when they were his age (31), he doesn’t need the team to be tailored around him in quite the same way either. He fills the role of a traditional number nine at a level no-one else in world football can match right now. He has scored 54 goals this season and must be devastated that France Football have decided not to award the Ballon d’Or this year.
Ronnie O’ Sullivan
Early in this year’s World Snooker Championships O’Sullivan caused controversy in an interview, suggesting that the younger players coming through the ranks were barely of amateur standard.
The thing is, when you’re Ronnie O’Sullivan and you’re playing your very best snooker, you can make almost any other player look like an amateur. He is simply in a class of his own, perhaps the finest the sport has seen, with Stephen Hendry the only other player who could lay claim to that title.
In beating Kyren Wilson, O’Sullivan now has six world titles, while Stephen Hendry won seven. Though he claims that breaking records is not what motivates him, it would be no surprise to see O’Sullivan match or surpass that figure.
Another race, another pole position and another unerringly excellent drive from the Englishman. You need only look at the point differential between Hamilton and fellow McLaren driver Valtteri Bottas to see the difference a brilliant driver can make.
In Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, Bottas’ mistake on Turn One saw him drop down to fourth, with a motivated Max Verstappen ensuring the Fin could not regain his starting position.
Whether he’s not aggressive enough as a driver, or unable to match Hamilton’s sharp instincts and levels of concentration, the 43-point gap between Bottas and Hamilton tells you just how good the latter is.
Manchester City & Pep Guardiola
A disappointing end to a disappointing season. Man City’s flaws have been on display for all to see this year and we should not be surprised to see them exploited once more. Losing to Lyon means they’ve been eliminated from the Champions League in the quarter-finals for the third year running, despite going in to each of those matches as the favourites.
Pep Guardiola hasn’t made it the final of the competition for nine years now, spanning his final year at Barcelona, plus his entire stints at Bayern Munich and Man City. His tactics once more came into question on Saturday following an insipid first-half display. While Guardiola is not responsible for Sterling’s terrible miss, as an elite manager at elite clubs, more will always be expected of him.
Lyon can now be definitively labelled a ‘bogey’ team for City too. Three meetings over the last two seasons have resulted in two wins for the French side and one draw. They may have only finished seventh in Ligue 1, but they seem to have City’s measure.
Is qualifying for the Champions League enough for Man Utd to consider the season a success? At times it seems that way, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer afforded a level of patience that only a club legend seems likely to receive.
Three semi-final exits suggest they are not far away from winning a trophy, but it equally suggests a side lacking a certain will and way to win in the very biggest matches.
Against Sevilla, Utd spurned a series of chances to win, with Anthony Martial particularly guilty here. As a right-back usually noted for his defensive solidity Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s performance was concerning too, partially to blame for both Sevilla goals. Is he simply burned out from a long season, or were his limitations exposed by the Spanish side?
Their reliance on Bruno Fernandes means more creative talent is needed, while another top-class centre-back to play alongside Harry Maguire almost goes without saying at this point. Or they could just spend all summer and all of their money chasing Jadon Sancho.
The numbers tell you almost all you need to know here, starting with that 8-2 scoreline.
This was Barcelona’s first loss by a six-goal margin since 1951.
It was the first time they have conceded eight goals since 1946.
It’s the fourth time in five seasons Barcelona have exited the Champions League in the quarter-finals
Two of the eight goals against them were scored by their own on-loan player.
Their star player and best player is now 33-years-old and incapable of doing it all by himself.
And finally, a reminder that they paid €18 million for Martin Braithwaite in January.
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