Champions League takeaways: Giroud to the rescue again for Chelsea; Bayern Munich all but through

What a day in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday. Bayern Munich rolled to a dominant, expected 4-1 win at Lazio while Chelsea got a fantastic 1-0 win away to Atletico Madrid to put themselves in prime position to advance to the quarterfinals after next month’s second leg. Following the day’s games, here are four takeaways, one for each team:

Giroud cementing himself as the No. 9 for Chelsea

When he scores, he scores beautifully. Olivier Giroud had one great chance against Atletico, and he did something magical, putting home a bicycle kick to earn a crucial win. The away goal sets the Blues up nicely ahead of the second leg, and Giroud just continues to deliver. While his minutes may be limited in the Premier League, he has six goals in the Champions League, three more than any other Chelsea player. He’s scored more goals on the season than Timo Werner and trails Tammy Abraham by one, though five of those have come in domestic cups. 

He continues to prove his value and consistency at 34 years of age and should be seen as the starting striker in UCL moving forward with another performance where he came up 

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Atletico Madrid far from out of it, but that was rough

It looks like the poor results as of late were a sign of the current form and not just a rough patch. Los Colchoneros have one goal scored in their last five matches, they were as uninspiring as they could be in this game, and the loss was deserved considering how they played. The regularly defended with six, they lacked ideas in the final third and at no point did they feel like a threat. 

Diego Simeone’s team is known for its toughness, ability to handle adversity and grind out results. This match felt like one where they didn’t want it enough. Most were expecting more, for them to command the match with the ball in attack, yet they finished with no real clear chances and more questions than answers. 

Bayern Munich essentially through

Go ahead and start making your plans for the quarterfinals, Bayern Munich. As expected, Bayern went into Rome and blasted Lazio to put nearly two feet into the next round. And, the 4-1 win came in a match where Bayern were far from their best. They kept the ball well, their passing was on point but it wasn’t as clean as it could have been in attack. So when an off day gets you that in Europe, imagine what happens when they are on.

Or you could just ask Barcelona.

Time to shift focus back to Serie A for Lazio

It was fun while it lasted, Lazio. Look, I like Lucas Leiva. He was a good player back in the day, but at 34, he no longer has what is needed to deal with Bayern’s speed and quick passing. Bayern capitalized on Lazio mistakes, the Italian side weren’t able to put away a couple of the really good chances they had against a Bayern defense out of form. 

With the team fighting for a spot in the top four in Serie A and currently sitting in sixth, it’s time to shift focus. They won’t, and they’ll go for the comeback in the second leg, but they’ll likely find themselves at the end of another rough defeat. 

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