UCL Quarterfinal Draw First Impressions

Image Via: Fan Rumor

After a thrilling Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League concluded this past Wednesday, the match-ups for the Quarterfinals were revealed early Friday morning.  Although some of the big names have been knocked out – Real Madrid, PSG, and Bayern Munich to name a few – and a new champion will be crowned, many great teams still remain making this one of the more intriguing Champions League seasons.

Photo from @ChampionsLeague on Twitter

The Headliners

Manchester United vs. Barcelona

Two of the biggest clubs in the world meeting in European competition for the first time since 2011. Since then much has changed for Manchester United, but one constant has remained the same in Barcelona, and that is the brilliance of Lionel Messi. After a 2 goal 2 assist effort from Messi propelled Barca to a 5-1 victory over Lyon in the Round of 16, he will look to further his excellent form against Manchester United, who pulled off a remarkable comeback against PSG, winning 3-3 on away goals, without key players such as Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, and Jesse Lingard. This matchup will generate the most buzz based on the history of both clubs, but in the end Barcelona will be too much for United to handle, specifically Messi and Luis Suarez in attack.

Prediction: Barcelona advance on aggregate 4-1

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur

The first domestic matchup of this year’s Champions League campaign puts Premier League leaders Manchester City against 3rd place Tottenham. Manchester City put on an absolute clinic vs. Schalke in the Round of 16, winning 10-2 on aggregate after a 7-0 beatdown in the 2nd leg. Spurs were also dominate in their matchup with Borussia Dortmund, winning 4-0 on aggregate, slowing down a potent Dortmund attack. City look to be on a mission, and in a competition where scoring goals matters, they have the ability and the personnel to score and score a lot. Spurs can make it tough if they play possession but in the end Manchester City will be too strong.

Prediction: Manchester City advance on aggregate 5-2

The ‘David vs. Goliath’ matchups

Ajax vs. Juventus

To be fair, saying Ajax is like David is somewhat unfair as they are a club with a strong history and consistently produce great players. That being said, on paper this will be a huge mismatch. Ajax will say games are not played on paper, and they will be right, as evidenced of their dismantling of Real Madrid in the Round of 16. Ajax embarrassed Real Madrid, at Madrid, 4-1 to advance on aggregate 5-3 and will look to knock off another European giant in Juventus. After a shaky 1st leg against Atletico Madrid, a 2-0 loss, Cristiano Ronaldo put on a show for the ages, scoring a hat trick and carrying Juventus on his back as they won the 2nd leg 3-0 to advance 3-2 on aggregate. Ajax can definitely give Juventus trouble especially in the midfield where maestros Frenkie de Jong and Dusan Tadic are excellent in possession and are able to pass sublimely, but Ronaldo is a man on a mission, looking to win a Champions League Trophy for the 4th year in a row with a 3rd different club. Ajax make things interesting, but ‘Goliath’ Juventus pull through.

Prediction: Juventus advance on aggregate 4-2

Porto vs. Liverpool

As is the case with Ajax above, Porto definitely deserves more respect than to be labelled as ‘David’, but when you compare them to English giants Liverpool, you can see why I labelled this game as such. Porto did very well in there Round of 16 matchup with Roma, winning 4-3 on aggregate after an Alex Telles penalty kick in the 117th minute. They will have their hands full with a dangerous Liverpool club, looking to get back to the Champions League finals after falling in the final to Madrid last season. Liverpool were fantastic in the 2nd leg of their Round of 16 bout with Bayern Munich, winning the game 3-1 to advance by the same score on aggregate, and while Mo Salah has come back to Earth a little bit this season, Sadio Mane has been excellent, scoring 2 goals to see Liverpool advance. While Porto has the defense to potentially slow down Liverpool, in the end Liverpool will be too much with Mane, Salah, and Roberto Firmino patrolling the attack.

Prediction: Liverpool advance on  aggregate 4-1

 

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