Hello everyone! The Champions League draw for the quarterfinals came out earlier today and I want to break down my predictions with you. As always feel free to share your thoughts on my selections! With that being said let’s get into my Champions League quarterfinal predictions! But first, we will need some context. Buckle up and let’s dig into this!
For those of my readers who may be a little fuzzy on where we are at with the Champions League, I’ll give a quick rundown. The tournament is set up just like the World Cup. Group stage matches are followed by knockout rounds where matches are played over two legs (matches). The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) ranks European leagues based on their strength. Leagues with a higher strength like the Premier League or La Liga send more teams than a weaker league such as the Super Lig in Turkey. That is why we see teams like Manchester City and United in the Champions League together but for example only one Dutch team like Ajax. For more information on the team selection process, I found a great read here.
So, Which Teams Are Left?
The teams that remain in this years competition are as follows. Ajax is the talk of the tournament after they destroyed Real Madrid in the Round of 16. Portugal is represented by FC Porto while Juventus is the final Italian team. Barcelona are now the only Spanish team left after both Real and Atletico Madrid were knocked out. That leaves four teams all of which are English. Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester City and United make up half of the quarterfinalists. This is a big moment for English football. It has been seven years since an English team won the Champions League. Fans and analysts have questioned Premier League quality for not producing on the international stage but this may be the year! All that aside, now we can get into my Champions League quarterfinal predictions!
Ajax vs. Juventus
Every fiber of my being wants to keep the Ajax dream going. For those of you that don’t know, I have a Dutch history in my family and I love the Oranje. However, Juventus has Mr. Champions League on their team. Cristiano Ronaldo is absolutely terrifying to face. He single handedly buried Atletico Madrid in the previous round. His hat-trick in the second leg erased a 2-0 Atletico lead that they had held after the first match. Ronaldo is simply dominant and I think his dominance will push Juve through. Ajax is a great side and I think they will keep it close over the two legs. They have young stars of their own in Frenkie De Jong, Matthijs De Ligt, and David Neres who I wrote about here. I want Ajax to keep the dream alive but my gut is telling me to go with Juve.
Score Prediction: Ajax 2-4 Juve
Tottenham vs. Manchester City
With half of the remaining teams being English there was a good chance that we would get an all Premier League tie. That’s exactly what we have here with two of the strongest teams in England facing off. Spurs breezed past Borussia Dortmund in the Round of 16 while City swatted FC Schalke by a whopping 10-2 scoreline. The most brutal part about that score is that after the first game Schalke kept it close only losing 3-2. The Citizens then proceeded to put 7 past them in the second leg in a punishing performance.
Both of these teams are in great form which makes this an even tougher decision. In the end Harry Kane and Spurs will battle hard but City will slip past and bring themselves one step closer to the first Champions League title. Man City are just the more complete team and Pep Guardiola is one of if not the best manager in the sport right now. Advantage City.
Score Prediction: Spurs 3-5 Manchester City
Liverpool vs. Porto
The heavy favorite in this tie is Liverpool. After a 0-0 draw in their first match, they went into Munich and beat Bayern 3-1 in front of their own fans. They showed resiliency and toughness, something they haven’t always had in previous seasons. Last season the only thing holding them back from winning it all was Mohamed Salah’s injured shoulder. (Not cool Sergio Ramos). Liverpool have reloaded and look poised to make another run at the title. They’ve added goalkeeping and midfield help and are close to bringing Champions League glory back to Anfield.
On the flip side, Porto deserve a ton of credit for reaching the quarterfinals. Alex Telles is a player I have highlighted before and he has been phenomenal. Iker Casillas and Pepe are using the last years of their careers to lead this side as seasoned veterans. Moussa Marega also deserves a ton of credit for helping Porto this far. The striker from Mali has six goals in seven Champions League matches and is terrorizing opposing defenses. Porto are a strong side but Liverpool are just too much for them.
Score Prediction: Liverpool 5-2 Porto
Barcelona vs. Manchester United
Manchester United are flying high after their improbable comeback against PSG in the Round of 16. Three goals in the second leg saw them finish 3-3 on aggregate against their French opponents. They went through on away goals, having scored all 3 away from Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (pronounced roughly as Sool-shair) has brought new life and belief into the side. His reward is that they now have to face the Spanish giants, Barcelona. Lionel Messi leads a Barca side that is currently first in La Liga and hungry to keep the Spanish streak of Champions League winners alive. They are a high quality side and Messi is playing some of his best football right now. He was the focal point of Barca’s 5-1 victory over Lyon in the previous round.
However, I have faith in Manchester United. Also I feel the need to pick an upset as that has been a major theme of this year. Solskjaer has United flying high and as they continue to get their major players back from injury, I think he will pull some magic out of his hat and push United into the semi-finals.