Finally, the two ties we’d all been looking forward to took place last night, as the Champions League moved into top gear.
Two of last season’s semi finalists clashed in Turin, while Arsenal’s annual clash with Barcelona produced another quality affair.
But what did we learn from the latest night of action?
Here’s five lessons the two last 16 clashes taught us:
Arsenal Are Not Chelsea, They Cannot Park The Bus
Arsene Wenger spoke of his discomfort of sitting deep and hoping for the best against Barcelona, stating that it was ‘against in his nature’ to employ such tactics.
Arsenal did defend for large periods against Barca’s fearsome front three but when they did reclaim possession, the Gunners sprung dangerous looking counter attacks and had chances to score.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wasted a good chance to give Arsenal an unlikely lead, before Olivier Giroud’s header was brilliantly saved by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
But, after blowing it, Barcelona tore through Arsene Wenger’s side thanks to a counter attack of their own. Neymar found Luis Suarez and once the Uruguayan picked out Lionel Messi, the game was up for Arsenal.
If Arsenal could have taken one of their chances, there would have been no need for any more attacking and they wouldn’t have been stung on the counter, which could have meant the Gunners taking a lead to the Nou Camp in three weeks time.
That would have been interesting.
Lionel Messi Doesn’t Have A Problem Scoring In England
Coming into the game, Messi had only scored twice against English opposition – a run that had people doubting his ability to overcome a typically physical English defence.
It was only a matter of time before Messi put on a show on for his English fans and he was excellent at the Emirates, taking his goal superbly before winning and converting the decisive penalty.
His first goal was particularly impressive. It looked a simple enough finish for anyone but while many would have hit it first time, Messi took a touch that made Petr Cech go down like a sack of potatoes and afforded himself an easier finish.
It was the first goal the five time Ballon d’Or winner had netted against Cech and it silenced any doubters that were surely only vocal out of hope that the ‘drought’ would continue.
The Old Lady Found Her Teeth
While Messi was tearing through Arsenal in London, Juventus were producing a stellar comeback to stop Bayern Munich running away with their tie.
Goals from Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben had put the German giants in the driving seat, before the Serie A leaders hit back.
Bayern dominated from the off, penning Juve in their own half throughout the first 45 minutes, while dominating possession.
The goals duly arrived, with Muller opening the scoring after Andrea Barzagli’s poor clearance, before Robben added a typical second when he cut inside and curled past Gigi Buffon.
But the Old Lady hit back brilliantly, with wonderkid Paulo Dybala halving the deficit before Stefano Sturaro smacked in a dramatic equaliser to keep the tie even going into the second leg.
Massimiliano Allegri Knows How To Use His Substitutes
With Bayern dominating the game, Juventus were in danger of fading without trace.
2-0 down against one of the best sides in the world, last season’s finalists needed something special if they were to keep the tie alive.
Allegri duly produced, bringing on Morata, Stefano Sturaro and Hernanes to change the game.
The subs allowed Juventus to get a foothold in the game and after Paulo Dybala had tapped home, Allegri’s subs combined to grab a priceless equaliser.
Morata’s header from out wide allowed Sturaro – a defensive midfielder by trade – to steal in and slam a leveller past Manuel Neuer.
The tie remains in the balance going into the second leg and it’s all thanks to Allegri’s inspired subs.
Arsenal’s Line-Up And Subs Were Wrong
While Morata and Sturaro combined to dig their manager out of a hole in Turin, Mathieu Flamini couldn’t do the same at the Emirates.
Just 47 seconds after replacing Francis Coquelin – a strange decision to say the least – Flamini smashed into Messi inside the area and gave away a penalty.
The Argentine didn’t piss about with this one, easily beating Cech and giving Barcelona a seemingly unassailable lead going into the second leg.
Had it ended 0-1, Arsenal would have only needed a one goal victory in Spain to force extra time, but thanks to Flamini’s clumsiness, the Catalan club should easily make it through to the last eight.
There was even time for Gerard Pique to pick up a deliberate yellow card as he slid in on Danny Welbeck, allowing him a night off in three weeks, presumably to find out whether Shakira’s hips still don’t lie.