As we move deeper into the spring, we see the emergence of knockout soccer with the UEFA Champions League. Currently, the UEFA Champions League is in the quarter finals. There are four match-ups that contain teams from England, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
From England, we contain the four headed monster of Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United. From Italy we have the giants from Turin, Juventus, led by the all time leading scorer in the Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo. Another contender is the Catalan giants, FC Barcelona, where Lionel Messi will look to cement his legacy as the best to ever play the sport. Then, we have the underdogs who will represent the Netherlands and Portugal. Porto and Ajax both had come-from-behind victories to put them in the last eight of the Champions League.
The first matchup on April 9 features Liverpool against Porto. Both of these teams are coming off season changing victories: Liverpool beat Bayern Munich and Porto beat AS Roma. Liverpool is the clear favorite in this tier. However, it’s essential that they don’t take Porto lightly. Porto has shown their ability to battle through adversity, and they will be looking for revenge since Liverpool knocked them out last year. The big three of Mane, Salah and Firmino will be very hard for Porto to contain. Liverpool will have too much fire power and strength going forward for Porto. I see Liverpool winning comfortably in this draw with a draw on the road and a commanding victory at Anfield.
Later in the day, we see a battle between Premier League foes, Manchester City and Tottenham. Manchester City is currently a team in form and will look to complete their potential history-making treble. Tottenham, lead by Harry Kane, will look to try and make a deep Champions League run with hopes of winning to avoid a lengthy top four race with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. This will be an extremely competitive and enticing game. I see Manchester City being too strong for Tottenham and winning both legs comfortably and advancing into the semi finals.
The most enticing game of the quarter finals would have to be the battle between Manchester United and Barcelona on April 10. Here we see a Barcelona team that has struggled to meet their expectations in the Champions League. The last two years they have made it no further than the quarter finals, suffer- ing a crushing loss last year to AS Roma. Manchester United’s form has dropped recently after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer led them to a flying start in the first 15 games as manager. Manchester United have already exceeded expectations by making it to the quarter finals. The upset victory over PSG was a monumental vic- tory that gave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the promotion of permanent manager. This should be a high scoring affair as both teams are very attack-minded and really struggle with their back lines. In this matchup, I see Barcelona advancing in a affair that definitely won’t lack offense. It will come down to which defense can limit the damage most.
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