Two potential finals and two less prestigious yet potentially more entertaining games. This, in a nutshell, is the result of the Champions League quarter-final draw, leaving us with our excitement rising for almost a month as we wait for the action.
To predict who will go through is impossible and one risks being harshly mistaken by reality. But to risk is part of the game, so here’s what we think can happen in the quarter finals.
Leicester City v Atletico Madrid
The encounter that on paper is the least balanced is Leicester City v Atletico Madrid. On the one side there’s a team enjoying their first appearance in this competition, on the other hand one who played two finals in the past three editions.
Their vaguely similar style of play – both aggressive and careful at the back – could be cancelled out by Atletico’s quality, a side that is overwhelmingly superior. But as Juventus captain Gigi Buffon said: “there is a feel-good factor around Leicester”. It seems like the Foxes can do anything, and playing the first leg in Madrid could prove decisive, as we saw in the round of 16 with Leicester’s comeback at the King Power Stadium after losing in Sevilla. Atletico have gone very far recently, so a dip in form this season wouldn’t be a surprise. We predict the Colchoneros to win the first leg, but Leicester City to progress to the next round.
Borussia Dortmund v Monaco
The most entertaining match is set to be Borussia Dortmund v Monaco, with the two sides scoring respectively 15 and 25 goals so far in the competition. Their fresh attacking style of play and the pace and quality of some of their young strikers, from Kylian Mbappe to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang promise to deliver goals and fun.
The Ligue 1 side has knocked out a giant like Manchester City, a fairly surprising result that gives enthusiasm and morale and asserts their strength. The German club were luckier in the round of 16 draw, dealing with Benfica fairly easily after losing away in the first leg. Right now Monaco seem in better shape and able to beat anybody, so after two games loaded with goals we predict Leonardo Jardim’s side to go on to the semi-finals.
Juventus v Barcelona
Juventus v Barcelona is a remake of the 2015 final when the Blaugrana lifted the trophy in Berlin after a 3-1 win. Leonardo Bonucci wanted this tie to take revenge and Juve are aiming to win the competition like never before in recent times.
Barcelona seem unbeatable after the 6-1 demolition of Paris Saint-Germain, but it is also true that in the first leg Luis Enrique’s side switched off to lose 4-0. So it is possible. But clearly, on paper, Juventus will have to perform perfectly to go through in the two legs, especially considering the return game will be played at the Camp Nou, where literally anything can happen.
Juventus’ 4-2-3-1 has given the Bianconeri solidity in the middle and the crucial quality up front most European sides are used to. A fundamental step up to challenge for the final victory. Barcelona, though, have had their attacking asset for decades and with Lionel Messi-Luis Suarez-Neymar up front they can score in any moment. So Juventus will give Barcelona a difficult time, but it will be the Blaugrana to progress.
Real Madrid v Bayern Munich
Last but by no means least, Carlo Ancelotti plays against his past as Real Madrid face Bayern Munich. Zinedine Zidane, once Ancelotti’s assistant, leads the current World Champions against the most in form side right now. It promises to be a real clash of titans. Bayern’s worst home defeat in the Champions League came in 2014 by the hands of Real Madrid, a 0-4 loss to then Ancelotti’s side in the semifinals.
So this match doesn’t bring back great recent memories to the Bavarians, who after three seasons away from the final will want to go all the way to win the competition. And to do so they will have to go past Real Madrid. With the quality and experience of both sides it is impossible to say who can have the edge, but the feeling is those who will be able to maintain solidity at the back and concede less will see the semifinals. Ancelotti has demonstrated incredible results in this competition, so we believe Bayern will just about go past Real Madrid to the next round.
We predict Leicester City, Monaco, Barcelona and Bayern Munich to progress to the semifinals draw and then the next round of the Champions League. As we wait for the action to commence, let us know if you agree with our predictions.