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Plot twists: The best games of the 2021-22 Champions League
The Champions League is home to some of the most intense games that fans enjoy. From big upsets and huge comebacks, the UCL is full of surprises which is enough reason to expect bigger matches every season from the best competition in the world.
Comebacks and upsets are big stories in the sports world, especially in prestigious tournaments like the Champions League. Since it has a higher level of competition, the UCL is hard to predict as well.
Some of the biggest Champions League win by a team took place years ago, but perhaps the rise of elite teams in the past few years made it easy to show that there is more to expect from the competition.
Here are the biggest Champions League upsets and comebacks in the 2021-22 season:
Biggest Champions League win
Benfica vs Ajax (Round of 16)
Benfica pulled off one of the biggest Champions League upsets when they knocked out Ajax from the competition. They managed to close out a huge battle against the Dutch giants and proved that they can still come up with a great victory.
Ajax struck hard in the first half of the game with two big opening goals. They had a 1-0 lead before Sebastien Haller made a huge error with an own goal to tie it at 1-1 before he responded to make it a 2-1 lead. However, that opened up the chances for Benfica to claw their way back.
Benfica had a goal from Roman Yaremchuk in the second half, a dagger in the 72nd minute to secure the tie. This proved that Benfica was a much more efficient team than they ever were, and this shows a lot of hope for the team that has played with grit in its games.
The home advantage was supposed to be the key for Ajax to close off the series. Both clubs are on the edge and need one goal to win, and it could have been Ajax’s big shining moment if it wasn’t for their flops on the offensive end.
Despite having 16 shots, only two of those were on target for Ajax. They had the ball for 69% of the game and made 596 passes en route to a strong 84% pass rate. They went on to win the stat sheet, but not the game.
How the tie was broken
Darwin Nunez broke free of a scuffle on the right side of the pitch and made a dash all the way to the opposing side. He went on to score the ball for a big goal in the 77th minute that served as a dagger in Ajax’s heart. That closed out the match for good, and no one can deny the fact that it was an impressive finish.
Ajax’s hopes of a deeper run in the Champions League were thwarted, and no one expected this from a team that was poised for a bigger run in the competition. This is why it is seen as a big upset for a lot of analysts and fans.
Chelsea vs Real Madrid (Quarter final)
Chelsea was one of the best teams in the Champions League. As the defending champions, there were high expectations from one of the top English clubs that fields a lot of talents as well. This says a lot about the way they play, especially in a given game that would determine their winning chances in the Champions League.
It was not much of a big battle to begin with. Madrid was outshot by the Blues 20-8, but both teams had five shots on target. Despite holding the ball for 58% and making 611 passes for a staggering 90% pass rate, Chelsea only had one shot that came from Kai Havertz in the 40th minute.
Karim Benzema, on the other hand, scored three goals to lead the way for the Blancos. He first nailed the big shot in the 21st minute before following it up with another after three minutes. He capped off the run by answering Havertz’s goal with a shot of his own in the 46th minute.
The narrative was still the same for the second leg of this series. Chelsea still had more shots than Madrid had. The Blues led the game with 3-0 lead that could have given them a win in the aggregate score thanks to goals from Mason Mount, Antonio Rudiger, and Timo Werner.
Chelsea had seven shots on target to go along with 57% possession. They also made a total of 746 passes en route to an 86% pass rate. This says a lot about how the team has gone to improve its chances and save their season.
How Chelsea was ousted by Madrid
Chelsea's success was short-lived as the Blancos responded with a comeback of their own. The team scored two goals in the closing minutes of the game to tilt the series into their favour. Goals from Rodrygo and Karim Benzema saved the day for Madrid, and this ensured their ticket to the semis.
Madrid was held to just 10 shots in the game but made two of them count when it mattered most. The team only had the ball for 43% and made 581 passes for an 82% pass rate. The Blancos won the aggregate by a single goal, and that proved they deserve their success right now.
Real Madrid vs Paris SG (Round of 16)
Madrid pulled off a comeback win in their Round of 16 match against Paris SG where they found a challenge against a strong lineup of stars. This was the biggest threat that the Blancos have seen to begin their quest in the Champions League, and they came back with a strong game.
The first leg was a disaster for Madrid. The Blancos only had three shots for the whole game and none of those were close to the net. Paris SG, however, managed to break through the defence in the final moments of the game with a huge winning shot from Kylian Mbappe.
That hyped the crowd at the Parc des Princes as the Paris club took a 1-0 aggregate lead in the series, and it was a stunning finish that hampered Madrid’s chances. Some even say that it was already the biggest defeat in Champions League history for the Blancos as the odds shifted into Paris SG’s favour.
The second leg was more of a show for the Blancos. The club turned the tables on the French club with a strong outing led by their lead striker, Karim Benzema. Mbappe scored a goal in the first half to take a 1-0 lead and put up a 2-0 aggregate lead. This fueled Madrid and saw a huge game from Karim as he went on to score three goals in 17 minutes.
Paris SG failed to respond, and their defence collapsed in a snap as Madrid came back from a 2-0 hole to win the series at 3-2 and move on to the semis.
How the comeback happened
Madrid went down 0-2 in the aggregate, which only meant that they were clearly out of options as the second leg stood as their last straw. The Blancos shifted to an all out offensive lineup and opened up a lot of lanes for Benzema.
The star pulled off an impressive hat trick and showed the rest of the league that the Blancos won’t bow down without a fight. This turned out to be one of the biggest Champions League comebacks as Paris SG fielded a lineup that featured the trio of Mbappe, Neymar, and former Barca star Lionel Messi.
Biggest Champions League upsets
Villarreal vs Bayern (Quarter final)
Bayern was seen as one of the top picks for the Champions League final as they fielded one of the best star studded lineups in the game. However, the 2022 edition was full of surprises, and Bayern took the biggest hit on that end when they faced Villarreal in the quarter final stage.
Villarreal’s defence was a huge shocker for the German giants. Bayern had a total of 22 shots in the game but only had four of those on target. That could have been one of the biggest goal difference in the Champions League had those goals gone in. Villarreal, on the other hand, only had 12 shots but got lucky on Amaut Danjuma’s goal in the eighth minute.
Despite filling the stat sheet with 62% of the ball and 563 passes for 85% pass rate, Bayern was held to zero goals for the whole 90 minutes. That saw a huge praise for Villarreal with a sellout crowd at the El Madrigal.
Bayern was ready to respond in the second leg and came out with a much bigger dominance on the pitch. Robert Lewandowski played hero for the Bavarians as he scored a huge goal in the 52nd minute. This led to an uproar in Allianz Arena as the club was just one goal away from stealing a huge win.
Villarreal was just held to four shots in the game. They only had the ball for 32% of the game while making only 290 passes for 68% accuracy rate. This was supposed to be a big story for the German club, but they could not finish strong in the closing minutes.
How the upset happened
Bayern was cruising for a strong finish despite having a poor offensive performance. Villarreal called game when they pulled off a huge goal from Samuel Chukwueze in the 88th minute as the striker almost lost the ball but managed to beat Manuel Neuer at the post.
Villarreal then held on for the final minutes of the game, pulling off one of the biggest Champions League upsets in the 2021-22 season. A lot of analysts say that this can be considered as the biggest loss in Champions League history, especially for a team that is expected to make it back to the final after their 2020 win.
Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United (Round of 16)
Manchester United was shocked in their showdown with Atletico Madrid. The Red Devils were poised to be one of the leading teams in Europe that is expected to make it to the final. However, their strong offence was met with a rigid defence from Atletico Madrid, which is known for their efficiency in tackles.
Atletico started out strong with a goal in the seventh minute. Joao Felix was on point with his strike to give the Spanish club a 1-0 lead. That was the only shot that got close to the net, and all other 11 shots from Atleti were a miss.
The Red Devils were saved by a late push in the last 20 minutes of the game. Anthony Elanga came up with the tying shot as he scored a goal in the 80th minute. That was just one of two close shots that United had among their seven shots in total.
United was more aggressive in the second leg. The club came up with 11 shots, with five of those on target. They also held the ball for 61% of the game while making 573 passes to go along with 83% accuracy. However, it was the grit of Atletico that made them the winners of the series.
Despite being held to three shots on target, Atletico still managed to steer their way into the scoreboard with a goal from Renan Lodi in the 41st minute. This allowed them to focus on the defensive end with a 2-1 lead in the series.
How the upset happened
The win by Atletico was hailed as the biggest win in European Championship by most experts since the odds were stacked against them. The team came up with a huge answer down the stretch and let the defence do the work for them.
Fans at the Old Trafford were left speechless as they expected to see more of the Paul Pogba and Cristiano Ronaldo tandem. This says a lot about the way they failed to capitalise on their star lineup, and that is something they need to improve on next season.’
What is the biggest win in the Champions League?
Toppling giants and keeping a successful pace — that has been Madrid’s signature for the 2022 UCL. However, they have saved their best against one of the best teams in the decade - Manchester City. This is believed to be the greatest comeback in Champions League history, and it decided Madrid’s chances in the competition as it gave them their shot at going for the title as well.
Manchester City vs Madrid Leg 1
The first leg of the semis between City and the Blancos was more of a tight showdown from start to finish. Kevin De Bruyne quickly scored a goal in the second minute of the game for a 1-0 lead before Gabriel Jesus extended it to 2-0 in the 11th minute.
Karim answered with a shot of his own in the 33rd minute. Phil Foden came back for City and extended the lead to 3-1 before Vinicius Junior added his own shot just two minutes after the previous goal. Bernardo Silva then made it a 4-2 lead in the 74th minute. Karim’s late penalty goal in the 82nd minute was almost a late finish that allowed City to escape with a win.
Manchester City vs Madrid Leg 2
Madrid had to crawl back from a 4-3 deficit in the aggregate score, and they did not waste their chance to score a win at home in front of their fans. It was a tight game, and no side had a goal in the first half with lockdown defences in place.
Riyad Mahrez then broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute to extend City’s aggregate score by two. Rodrygo, however, had other plans and gave Madrid two goals in two minutes to tie the score in the 91st minute. Benzema then knocked down the game winner with a penalty goal.
While it did not end with the biggest goal difference in Champions League, one can say that this series gave fans one heck of a show to remember. It was one of the biggest Champions League upsets to remember, and this will sting City fans’ hearts forever.
Champions League markets to bet on
If you are looking to score some big wins of your own, Sportsbet has you covered. We give you some of the best markets to bet on, which should be the perfect chance for you to go all out on your bets. Sportsbet UEFA Champions League odds are competitive here, which should be a good look for your winning chances as well.
Here are the betting markets you should try in the Champions League:
Betting on the game totals is more of a guess than an actual bet since you have to be smart in estimating the overall result. It does not matter who wins at this point, because all you need to do is to bet on the total goals scored by two sides and hope for the best.
Handicaps are a good bet to consider especially if you are looking at the bigger chance of winning for a favourite or underdog in the Champions League. Since the competition hosts some of the best teams in the league, it is easy to assume that every game will be a tight one. With handicaps in place for either the favourite or underdog, betting on a team to either reach the set handicap or win by more is the way to go.
Prop bets are good options for those who want to enjoy some unique wagers in the Champions League. Making wagers such as ‘first to score’, ‘Madrid to win by five’, and so on are fine options for those who want to get extra winnings as well.
Betting on Champions League matches
The Champions League 2021-22 edition has been one of the intense tourneys of the year. Sportsbet.io has a lot of betting markets available for you to choose from, and this is why you should take the chance to score winning wagers on the site.
With Liverpool and Madrid locked in for the UCL trophy, it is easy to expect that we may see the biggest Champions League final win soon. Bet on the UCL final here at Sportsbet.io and get a chance to win big prizes with different bonuses to choose from.
Words: Paul Daniel Flores
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