The time has come as we’ve reached the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League.
The first leg of the quarter-finals will commence in the next couple of days as eight teams, six of whom have previously won the coveted European trophy, battle it out to get into the semis.
Here are my predictions for the games on Tuesday and Wednesday:
Real Madrid v Liverpool
Los Blancos face the Reds for the first time since the 2018 Champions League Final. Back then, Real Madrid were the obvious victors with a world-class team led by an in-form Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, things have changed drastically since then for both sides. The last couple of years has seen Liverpool win the Champions League and the Premier League under Jürgen Klopp, while Ronaldo’s departure from the Bernabeu signified a difficult transitional period for Real.
The Galacticos are an aging squad and Eden Hazard is yet to impress in Spain due to his injury problems. But what will impact the match is Sergio Ramos’ injury. The captain’s absence could spell elimination for 13-time winners.
Despite Liverpool having the worst domestic title defence this season, they are hoping to have a resurgence after international break. Saturday’s fixture against Arsenal saw an in-form Diogo Jota score a brace for the Reds. He could be pivotal to their success this year in Europe.
Overall, I think Liverpool have the edge in this fixture. However, if Karim Benzema puts a stellar performance in, we could see Madrid progress to the semis.
Manchester City v Borussia Dortmund
Manchester City are on course to win their third Premier League title under Pep Guardiola. The Citizens are currently the best team in Europe, with a shocking amount of squad-depth. City’s defence is what has kept them undefeated for so long this season.
Contrastingly, Borussia Dortmund’s defence has been the catalyst to their fluctuating form. Despite having one of the best young strikers in Erling Braut Haaland, the German side is not as balance as their opponents.
That being said, Pep’s Manchester City is yet to get past the quarter-finals of the Champions League, having lost to Olympique Lyonnais last year 3-1.
Regardless of past form in the knockout stages, I think this is Manchester City’s best chance of progressing into the semis.
Bayern München v Paris Saint-Germain
Last year’s UEFA Champions League finalists face each other again on Wednesday night. The current European champions face a PSG team under the management of Mauricio Pochettino.
Things haven’t been smooth for PSG this season in Ligue 1, having suffered eight losses including a 1-0 defeat against Lille on Saturday.
Hansi Flick’s Bayern have been in incredible form with five wins in their last five domestic fixtures. However, during the international break, their star-striker Robert Lewandowski sustained an injury that will see him side-lined for up to a month.
Despite their injury woes, I feel Bayern will come out victorious from this tie, giving the likes of Muller and Choupo-Moting the chance to fill his boots.
Though Pochettino is yet to click with this Paris side, it will be hard to rule out a world class performance from Kylian Mbappe to take the Parisians into the semis.
Porto v Chelsea
Despite losing to West Bromwich Albion 5-2 on the weekend, Thomas Tuchel has transformed Chelsea since his appointment. The Blues went on a short undefeated run that has seen them get back in the top four spot.
Both Porto and Chelsea surprised many in this Champions League campaign by defeating the likes of Atletico Madrid and Juventus.
The west London club have a lot of potential with Mason Mount performing well this season. Timo Werner is yet to impress at Stamford Bridge with the number of chances he misses. However, Chelsea could have the tactical edge over Porto.
Always referred to as the underdog in Europe, Porto have impressed this season with game-changing performances by the likes of Sérgio Oliveira. Oliveira and Mehdi Taremi are both unavailable for the Portuguese side, but Porto’s work ethic may see them through to the next round.
Source of Image: UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE via Twitter