Champions League Last 16 winners Atl Madrid, Bayern, Juve, Monaco, Barca, Borussia Dortmund, Leicester, Real Madrid advance to Quarter-Finals
Monaco and Atletico Madrid were the last clubs to book a spot in the UEFA Champions League Quarter-finals. The last eight of this year's Champions League now have all eight participants, however Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side was knocked out by Ligue 1 team Monaco. Guardiola's side let a two-goal advantage slip away on Wednesday, as Monaco battled back to win a riveting tie on away goals. Ligule 1 leaders Monaco join Leicester City, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich on the list of teams that went through to the last eight. The draw to decide the quarter-final matchups is coming up on Friday March 17 at 11am at UEFA’s headquarters in Nylon, Switzerland to determine the matchups in the next round of Europe's top competition. It will be followed by the draw for the Europa League Quarter-finals an hour later.
The quarter-final draw is open and unseeded, The clubs are unranked and sides from the same country can face each other. For example Spain La Liga teams Barcelona Fc and Real Madrid could face each other after the random draw. The clubs that come out of the hat first for each tie will play the first leg at home. Barca, Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich secured their place in the quarter-finals after winning their last-16 ties on March 7 and 8. On March 14, Leicester City and Juventus joined them and, on March 15, Monaco and Atletico Madrid took the last two spaces as they knocked out Manchester City and Bayer Leverkusen. The UEFA Champions League quarter-final ties will be played across two weeks in April on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. The first legs will be on April 11 and 12, with the second legs following a week later on April 18 and 19.
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The Champions League 2017 Final will be played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales on Saturday, June 3. Initially built for the 1999 Rugby World Cup, Millennium Stadium now the home ground of the Wales National Rugby Union Team and has also hosted Wales National Football Team clashes. It was also the home of the FA Cup Final while the new Wembley Stadium was being built between 2001 - 2006. Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, and Bayern Munich all advanced through to last season's Champions League quarter-finals and are back again in 2017. Borussia Dortmund will compete in the last eight for the first time since 2014, Monaco are back after a two-year absence from the Quarter-finals.
Leicester City are playing in the Champions League for the first time in their history as the Foxes Continue to reap the rewards of their fairy-tale 2015-16 season that took them from near relegation in the England Premier League to the league championship and trophy and gave Leicester the opportunity to compete against titan European clubs in the Champions League this season. Sevilla’s Samir Nasri was sent off in the second half furious at star Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy for shoving him as Leicester City progressed to the Champions League last eight. Ex-Arsenal man Nasri has labelled Jamie Vardy a "cheat" following the Leicester City striker's role in the Sevilla star's red card in Tuesday's Champions League last 16 second leg. Goals from Leicester City Captain Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton were key to sending the Foxes into the Champions League Quarter-finals for the first time in the club's history. England international Vardy pushed Nasri off the ball. Nasri then appeared to head-butt Vardy in retaliation leading to Nasri receiving his marching orders. Nasri said Vardy had acted in a cowardly manner, claiming the forward dived to get him in trouble.
"He didn’t say anything but he played it well. We went face to face and then he fell on the floor," said Nasri. "I thought the English player was tougher than that. He was the one who came to my face, and then went on the floor. He played it well. I didn’t touch him, I didn’t do anything with my head. He went on the floor and then the referee gave us both a yellow card. For me, he is a cheat. Because if he was a foreign player, you the English press would say he is a cheat. They were winning 2-0, play the game like a man. Win it. You are not better than us but you are winning 2-0, you will qualify, just play the game. You have quality, you are an international player, you don’t need to do that."
A fuming Nasri took his time to leave the pitch and had to be restrained following his dismissal as he gestured towards Vardy that he would speak to him after the game. Former France international cooled down a bit after the game and was hesitant to reveal to the media exactly what he would have told Vardy so as to avoid any further punishment. "I would love to speak to him but you know too many cameras, too much security, and I have to think about next year and not getting a big suspension,” said Nasri. We are not playing in the same league so it would be hard for me to get back at him. It doesn’t matter anymore."
Craig Shakespeare has done so well as interim manager after the sacking of Italian Claudio Rainieri who led Leicester City on the Road to Victory to glory last season. As a result, a delighted Shakespeare has been given the job as Leicester boss until the end of this season. Shakespeare said his men got to the Quarter-finals on merit and they are in the tournament to win.
Riyad Mahrez, hero of the Foxes’ Premier League title campaign last season, has defended Leicester City’s actions after seeing Ranieri sacked in February. Mahrez lashed out at Leicester City's critics, stating that the players have not forgotten Claudio Ranieri's influence on their Premier League triumph. Ranieri was sacked in February, not even a year after Leicester's incredible title success, because the club faced a relegation battle. Since the Italian manager’s departure, his former assistant Craig Shakespeare has guided the Foxes to three consecutive wins in all competitions, including the Champions League last-16 success against Sevilla. Some Leicester supporters have criticized the Leicester side for performing only after seeing their manager sacked, amid reports of player involvement in the decision, Mahrez has dismissed their opinions. "The people who are not inside the club and are not very involved in what's happening here, they can't judge, just because they were a footballer," Mahrez told the press. "When you're not in the club or in the dressing room you can't know everything, but maybe it's their job to speak and I don't mind. We know what we achieved with Claudio. Now the club has decided to sack him and we have to respect it and go forward. But we don't forget Claudio."
"Shaky has stayed the same," said Mahrez. "I like that about him, that he didn't change because he became the manager. “He has always been working hard for the team, even when he was the assistant, and we are happy with him." Buy Leicester City tickets to watch the Foxes live in the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.