Champions League quarter-finals preview
This season’s Champions League is like no other, with all of the remaining knockout ties being contested over one leg at a neutral venue, mitigating the away goals rule and home advantage in the process.
With Real Madrid and Juventus both crashing out in the last 16 phase, some consider this year’s competition as wide open as it has been for many years, with the likes of Manchester City, PSG and Atletico Madrid all looking to claim their first ever Champions League triumph.
French champions PSG were forced to come from behind against Atalanta to book their place in the semi-finals, courtesy of injury time goals from Marquinhos and Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, leaving three available places in the final four as we preview the remaining Champions League quarter-finals.
RB Leipzig vs. Atletico Madrid
One of the biggest underdogs remaining in the competition, RB Leipzig booked their place in the quarter-finals with a 4-0 aggregate victory over Tottenham before lockdown, securing a one-off tie against Atletico Madrid who eliminated holders Liverpool in the last 16.
The winner of this tie will face PSG for a place in the final, and Atletico will certainly be considered the favourites. One of the most regimented sides in Europe, Atletico under Diego Simeone have finished as Champions League runners-up twice in the last six seasons, while also winning the Europa League twice in his nine-year spell as manager, so they have the pedigree in clutch European ties.
Leipzig on the other hand will be without top scorer Timo Werner who has made himself unavailable for Leipzig’s Champions League journey following his transfer to Chelsea, meaning there is a huge weight on the shoulders of on-loan Roma striker Patrick Schick to lead the line.
While Atalanta nearly proved last night that anything is possible in a one-off knockout tie, it’s hard to see beyond Atletico Madrid securing their spot in the final four.
Leipzig: Gulacsi; Klostermann, Upamecano, Halstenberg; Mukiele, Sabitzer, Kampl, Angelino; Nkunku, Olmo; Schick.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Arias, Savic, Gimenez, Renan Lodi; Correa, Saul, Koke, Carrasco; Llorente; Costa.
Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich
Definitely the standout tie of the round, both Barcelona and Bayern Munich were forced to complete their last 16 ties post-Lockdown behind closed doors last week, with Barcelona edging out Napoli and Bayern Munich seeing off Chelsea.
With Real Madrid and Juventus out of the picture, the road to the final has become a lot clearer for both these teams. Barcelona will go as far as Lionel Messi can carry them this year and you can argue that a one-off knockout tie will favour the team with the world’s greatest player capable of producing moments of magic.
Bayern Munich romped to another Bundesliga title this season and have Robert Lewandowski in the form of his career, scoring 53 goals in 44 games this season will certainly be fancying his chances to net against an inconsistent Barcelona back line.
Probably the hardest tie to call of all of the quarter-finals, and no one will be shocked by the result either way, but the strength and consistency of the Bayern side that finished the Bundesliga season will stand them in good stead against Barcelona who watched the La Liga title slip through their grasp post-Lockdown.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Roberto, Busquets, Vidal, De Jong; Suarez, Messi
Bayern Munich: Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Thiago, Goretzka; Coman, Muller, Gnabry; Lewandowski
Manchester City vs. Lyon
Lyon edged past Juventus in the last 16 courtesy of an away goal from Memphis Depay, setting up a tie with Manchester City who are the lone Premier League team still in the Champions League after Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham were all knocked out in the last round.
Pep Guardiola would have snapped your hand off for the chance to play Lyon – not Juventus – for a place in the semi-finals and will certainly be fancying his sides chances of going deep in the competition. City have never reached a Champions League final and Guardiola has never made the final without having Lionel Messi in his attack.
While the injury to Sergio Aguero will likely keep him out for the rest of the competition, the form of Gabriel Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling should provide ample firepower for City to score the goals necessary to not just progress through to the semi-finals, but provide a real threat to winning the whole competition.
Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Fernandinho, Laporte, Joao Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, D Silva; Foden, Gabriel Jesus, Sterling
Lyon: Lopes; Denayer, Marcelo, Marçal; Dubois, Caqueret, Bruno Guimarães, Aouar, Cornet; Depay, Dembélé
Who do you think will progress to the semi-finals? Let us know in the comments below!