Matthias Schrader/Associated Press
With one leg of the quarterfinals in the books, there could be a changing of the guard in the Champions League.
Reigning winners Bayern Munich fell 3-2 to Paris Saint-Germain in a rematch of last year’s finals. Chelsea, meanwhile, cruised to a 2-0 victory over Porto.
Here are some of the individual winners and losers from Wednesday.
Winner: Kylian Mbappe
In five group stage matches during this Champions League campaign, Kylian Mbappe had two goals, both of which came in a 5-1 victory over Basaksehir. After Wednesday, the PSG star has six goals in the knockout stages alone.
Mbappe opened the scoring in the third minute and delivered what proved to be the decisive tally in the 68th.
Praising the 22-year-old for another electric performance is getting a bit rote. He’s scoring goals on the biggest stage at a rate that will leave him among the best to play the game.
It seems pretty safe to assume Mbappe will collect at least one Champions League medal over the course of his career. He may not have to wait much longer for his first European triumph.
Loser: Manuel Neuer
Manuel Neuer is arguably the greatest goalkeeper of his generation, delivering for both his club and national team while bringing the role of sweeper-keeper back into vogue.
Wednesday was an example of how even the best can be prone to the occasional mistake. Neuer allowed a shot by Mbappe to slip through his legs to give PSG an early 1-0 lead.
In the pantheon of goalkeeping errors, this was far from the most egregious. But Neuer’s consistency makes it more glaring when he has a bit of a howler.
Neuer wasn’t really to blame much for Paris Saint-Germain’s next two goals. His defense allowed Marquinhos to get free in the box for a straightforward finish, and Bayern was toast when it allowed Mbappe to get that deep with that much space to complete his brace.
Winner: Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had the unenviable task of replacing Robert Lewandowski at the top of Bayern’s attack. Granted, the collective strength of Bayern going forward led some to wonder how much Lewandowski’s absence would impact the club.
Choupo-Moting filled in pretty well for the Polish striker, heading home Bayern Munich’s first goal in the 37th minute.
By now, referencing Choupo-Moting’s spell at Stoke City is becoming a cliche. And yet, the fact he went from playing for a relegated Stoke side in 2017-18 to becoming a Champions League goal poacher continues to be incredible.
Richard Jolly @RichJolly
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting starts so the Stoke squad relegated from the Premier League in 2017-18 had players who played in the Champions League quarter- and/or semi-finals in 2004,
2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020 & 2021. https://t.co/OrbcqAVKQC
The 32-year-old should lean into this and sign with a different Champions League contender every season.
Winner: Thomas Tuchel
Thomas Tuchel really might be the new Roberto Di Matteo, albeit with more staying power.
Di Matteo replaced Andre Villas-Boas as Chelsea’s manager midway through a disappointing 2011-12 season. Months later, the Blues were lifting their first Champions League trophy.
Much like Di Matteo, Tuchel inherited a strong roster, so the proverbial new manager bump was inevitable. Having said that, the improvement Chelsea has made under the German’s watch goes well beyond that.
Henry Winter @henrywinter
Mature, resilient display but #cfc but never easy, Porto a threat. Mount and Chilwell scored, excelled. Kovacic and Christensen good, Mendy very good. Expert substitutions by Tuchel. Werner’s search for form and belief goes on but excellent team performance from Chelsea. #PORCHE
Chelsea’s 5-2 loss to West Brom illustrated how far they still have to go in order to chase down Manchester City to be the best side in the Premier League. But the Champions League is well within reach, and nobody will be surprised on current form if the Blues are the last team standing.
Winner: Mason Mount
Mason Mount scored the single best goal from Wednesday. The Chelsea midfielder executed a deft turn to elude Zaidu Sanusi before firing a shot into the far post past Agustin Marchesin.
Whenever a new manager comes in, there’s always the worry about how it might disrupt the on-field hierarchy. In the case of Mount, it wasn’t immediately clear if he’d be superseded by Timo Werner and/or Kai Havertz.
The 22-year-old has instead made himself an integral member of the lineup.
Mount might be making himself a lock for the England starting XI, too, ahead of Euro 2020.
That Werner and Havertz were both pretty anonymous against Porto will be of little concern to supporters thanks to Mount’s performance.