Aside from Paris St-Germain's late meltdown at the Mestalla, where a late Valencia goal and a Zlatan Ibrahimovic red card brought an ailing tie to life, Tuesday's Champions League football always felt a little like it was the undercard to Wednesday night's matches.
Whilst perhaps only Juventus have a serious chance of winning the tournament from the four teams playing on Tuesday, all four sides from last night have a claim to be in the running.
Manchester United and Real Madrid we all know about, with world class stars and a proud pedigree highlighted every time they take to the pitch. Shakhtar Donetsk vs Borussia Dortmund on the other hand, pitted together two of the form teams of the tournament so far, and the winner of that tie will have a serious chance of winning the competition as a whole.
Dortmund were excellent in the group stages, topping a group containing Manchester City, Ajax and Real Madrid, whilst Shakhtar were unlucky not to finish first in their own group, and eliminated the defending champions Chelsea in going through.
Each side has plenty of quality players, and worries that the Ukrainian team would struggle without Willian were somewhat assuaged by their confident performance against Dortmund last night.
The match between the pair finished 2-2, with a late Mats Hummels goal squaring the match for Dortmund. That goal gives the Bundesliga champions the edge going into the second leg, and they might take heart from Shakhtar's inability to capitalise on strong away performances against Chelsea and Juventus in the group stages, matches they ended up losing and drawing despite being the better team for long stretches.
Whichever of the pair comes through at the Westfalenstadion in a few weeks’ time has to be considered as amongst the favourites for the tournament as a whole. Each side bring bags of class to the table, and has already proven they can match and better the best teams around.
image: © Marco Verch