Five BIG talking points from the Champions League round of 16 second week

Both English clubs failed to win their Champions League knockout games this week, with Man City drawing 1-1 at RB Leipzig while Liverpool suffered a shock 5-2 defeat at home to Real Madrid.

Elsewhere, there were wins for both Inter Milan and Napoli, who beat Porto and Eintracht Frankfurt respectively, to set them up nicely for their second leg clashes in three weeks’ time.

Here are the biggest talking points from across the four games that took place in the Champions League this week…

Lukaku back among the goals

It’s been another frustrating season for Romelu Lukaku. Since returning to Inter Milan on loan from Chelsea in the summer, the striker has struggled with injury problems and has missed the majority of the campaign.

But having recently returned to the side, Lukaku has found himself back among the goals and scored the winner in Inter’s 1-0 win over Porto in their first leg round of 16 tie.

Chelsea fans will no doubt be keeping a close eye on the form of Lukaku, with the Belgium international set to return to his parent club in the summer and with the Blues also struggling for goals at the moment.

“Winning is the most important thing… I’m focusing on trying to do what’s best for Inter,” Lukaku said to Amazon Prime after the game.

Klopp suspects the tie is over

Liverpool are famed for their Champions League comebacks, from the final in Istanbul in 2005 against AC Milan to their 4-0 win over Barcelona in the 2019 semi-final to overturn a 3-0 deficit.

But even Klopp admits that overturning a 5-2 scoreline at the Bernabeu is likely a step too far for the Reds.

When asked whether he thinks the tie is over, he said: “I think Carlo (Ancelotti) thinks the tie is over, and I think it as well in the moment.

“But the closer you get to game, the bigger our chances become and the less likely it is that the tie is over.

“But tonight with the 5-2, when you see the game. They are pretty good at counter-attacking, we have to score three goals and take some risks, that could be tricky.”

Pep opts against making substitutes

Man City’s first leg against RB Leipzig only looked to be going one way in the first half. Pep Guardiola’s side dominated proceedings and gave the home side absolutely nothing.

But as the old cliché goes, football really is a game of two halves, and Leipzig were much improved after the break before equalising through Joško Gvardiol.

Yet despite the tide of the match turning, Guardiola surprisingly opted not to turn to his bench – which included the likes of Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez.

“I have the opportunity as a rule to have five substitutions, but I am the manager and I apply it, I take it if I want,” Guardiola explained after the game.

“I am so good as a manager to decide what I have to do or not.

“I was really pleased with what I was seeing. After the goal we concede I thought about (bringing on) Phil but immediately we took the game again in our hands, with the control we had.”

Are Napoli serious contenders for Champions League?

If you weren’t considering Napoli as very real contenders for this season’s Champions League, their 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt might convince you.

The Serie A leaders secured a comfortable win thanks to goals from the prolific Victor Osimhen and captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo away from home, meaning they return to the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in full control of the tie.

But Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti sent a reminder to his side after the game that the job is not yet complete.

“Will we be able to repeat it?,” he questioned.

“We have to. Let’s see if we stay on track, remain in command. We cannot think we are automatically through.”

Porto boss fumes at decisions, claims Martinez should be banned

It was a miserable night for Porto against Inter Milan, compounded by a red card for Otavio who will now miss the return leg in three weeks’ time.

But manager Sergio Conceicao was left frustrated at full-time with some of the decisions made, and pointed the finger at several of Inter’s players as well as the referee.

“Otavio was sent off, the card is understandable, but then there are Inter players who deserved to be booked too,” he said.

“I believe Lautaro Martinez should’ve been booked for fouling Pepe and if that had happened, he would be suspended for the second leg.

“This is what the referee decided, I won’t say if it’s right or not, I will leave you to evaluate that.”

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