The Champions League is back! Four matches will be taking place today and tomorrow evening, and the world will be watching on the edge of our seats. Ronaldo vs Dybala, Messi vs Ben Yedder, Salah vs De Bruyne, Messi vs Alisson. This should be one of the most exciting quarter-finals in recent memory, with great storylines to follow, world-class players ready to carry their squads to the semis and, eventually, champions league glory.
- Juventus v Real Madrid 2:45 pm ET (7:45 pm BST)
In a rematch of last year’s finals in Cardiff, Juventus and Real Madrid look to go head to head in what should be two great matches to come.
Juventus will be the underdogs in this matchup, even though they have been facing great competition in Serie A. Real Madrid, on the other hand, are only playing for the Champions League, having effectively been eliminated from La Liga championship contention.
This is Real Madrid though. They can’t be the underdog in European competition as long as Ronaldo suits up to play. It’s as if you get super powers in a Real Madrid kit when playing in the Champions League. Ronaldo, Benzema, and Isco would seem to be the front three that will start the match after Isco’s performance for Spain and Bale playing over the weekend. Leaving Bale as the super sub if they get in a pinch and need to be… Bale’d out.
While Juventus are currently on a 27 game unbeaten run in the Champions League at home (W16-D11), last losing in 2013 to Bayern Munich. They will be without Miralem Pjanic and Medhi Benatia for this first leg due to suspension though and that could be costly. Alex Sandro also doesn’t seem to be fully fit and could miss this leg as well, with all of that plus the run of form for the Spanish giants have found themselves in for this competition. It doesn’t look good for Juventus.
My Prediction: Juventus 1-3 Real Madrid.
- Sevilla v Bayern Munich 2:45 pm ET (7:45 pm BST)
Most would think this match should be smooth sailing for Bayern Munich. The Bavarians just destroyed their rivals, Borussia Dortmund, 6-0 in Der Klassiker. With James Rodriguez and Lewandowski having a hand in each goal, they seem to be in great form.
Don’t expect that to worry Sevilla in the slightest. They may be sixth in La Liga, but they are experienced in European competition, having won the Europa League three years in a row, from 2014-2016. They also just knocked out Manchester United in the round of 16 and came within minutes of beating Barcelona this weekend. Wissam Ben Yedder also has eight goals in champions league play, tied with only Ronaldo for most in the competition.
The Bavarians will be traveling south to Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan for the first leg and look to stay hot with Lewandowski leading the charge. While Sevilla will look to play smart counter-attacking football, and attempt to draw a card on Lewandowski, Kimmich, or Boateng which would lead to a suspension for the second leg. Wissam Ben Yedder looks to keep his role as the super sub and will hope to come on late to put the game away as he did in the round of 16.
My Prediction: Sevilla 2-2 Bayern Munich
- Barcelona v Roma 2:45 ET (7:45 BST)
Does Alisson have what it takes to stop Barcelona’s offense?
Barcelona will look to meet Roma at Camp Nou for the first leg of this matchup. In the round of 16, Barcelona cruised past EPL champions Chelsea, inspired as always by Lionel Messi. The Catalan giants also just went 12 points clear in La Liga thanks to their win over Sevilla, with Messi yet again leading that charge. Roma on the other hand, squeaked past Shakhtar Donetsk, with Edin Dzeko having to stir up some magic to get past the Ukranian champions, thanks to the away goal rule.
Roma does have a secret weapon though, in the name of Alisson Becker. The 25-year-old Brazilian Goalkeeper looks to show the entire world that he can hang among Europe’s best. Clearly the X-factor in this match, he has the ability to keep things close enough for a potential upset if he is on his game. With a lack luster defense in front of him though, I don’t expect him to be able to hold the Barcelona attack off all night.
With Lionel Messi, Ousmane Dembele, Luis Suarez, and Phillipe Coutinho attacking though, it doesn’t seem any team stands a chance on paper. Barcelona is 12 points clear in first, meaning they can rest players throughout the competition to make sure their top XI is always on the pitch. They will be a handful to take down for any team unlucky enough to draw them. Barcelona will look to gain a huge lead at home so they can rest up in the second leg on their path to their first Champions League final and victory since 2014-2015 in Berlin.
My Prediction: Barcelona 4-0 Roma
- Liverpool v Manchester City 2:45 ET (7:45 BST)
Liverpool will host Man City at Anfield in what promises to be an electric first leg in an even more electric atmosphere. Liverpool cruised to an easy 5-0 aggregate victory over Porto in the round of 16, scoring all of their goals in Portugal. While Man City won on a 5-2 aggregate over Basel.
No team has scored more than Liverpool in the Champions League this season, with 28. Liverpool will look to their incredible front three of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and Sadio Mane to set the tone while at home. While their defense has been one of the tops in the league since the arrival of Virgil Van Dijk and the emergence on Andrew Robertson at left back, Loris Karius will seem to have the most pressure on his shoulders. With rumors rampant of Liverpool searching for his replacement, a solid showing here could cement his place as the man of the future. With 5 clean sheets already between the sticks this Champions League season, he has more than any other keeper. That may be a tough ask though with City coming into Anfield.
Man City have their own terrifying front three in Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, and Raheem Sterling. With this squad being 16 points clear in first, and a win against Manchester United sealing their Premier League championship, it would seem they can afford to rest players going into the second leg at the Etihad. With Pep’s men ready to show that they aren’t the second choice in Manchester, they seem to play with a chip on their shoulders, even this deep into the season, which can be a scary thought with how talented the squad is.
The real story to watch here though is Mohamed Salah against Kevin De Bruyne. Each vying for their claim to the Premier League Player of the Year. Salah, with 29 goals and 9 assists, seems to be the front-runner for the award. If De Bruyne, 7 goals, and 15 assists, can lead his men to victory through these two legs though, it could be what he needs to make a case for the award.
My Prediction: Liverpool 4-3 Manchester City
- Feature Photo: uefa.com
- Ben Yedder: twitter.com/championsleague
- Ronaldo v Buffon: ibitimes.co.in
- Salah v De Bruyne: dailystar.co.uk