As the Champions League returns, Football fans around the world will be glued to their screens as they hope for exciting games when the big boys in European football lock horns.
The Old ladies of Turin welcome the current Champions Real Madrid in what promises to be a mouth-watering clash over two legs. Sevilla will be trading tackles with Bayern Munich while their fellow Spanish giants Barcelona will be licking their lips at the prospect of beating Roma at the Camp Nou. The big one is at Anfield where Jurgen Klopp’s men will be aiming for a psychological advantage going into the second leg against high flying Manchester City.
JUVENTUS VS REAL MADRID
The Italian giants welcome Real Madrid to the Allianz Stadium on Tuesday, for the first leg of their enticing Champions League quarter-final encounter, where Massimiliano Allegri’s lads will be hoping to exact revenge following last season’s defeat in the final.
Statistically, Juventus have always triumphed over los Blancos whenever it’s a two legged tie while the Spanish giants edge it when 90 minutes is needed to settle the clash. The Old ladies have lost two Champions League finals to Madrid including the 4-1 defeat at Cardiff last year.
Both teams are in buoyant spirits after winning their league encounters over the weekend. Juve bolstered their chances of another league title with a 3-1 win against perennial rivals AC Milan. On the other hand, Gareth Bale and co warmed up with a convincing victory over Las Palmas.
Verdict: No disrespect to Madrid but I fancy Juventus to win this first leg 3-1.
SEVILLA VS BAYERN MUNICH
Sevilla will be making their first appearance in the quarter-finals of the Champions League against German super-power Bayern Munich.
Jupp Heynckes is currently enjoying a long unbeaten run (11 wins) in the competition as a manager and will be hoping that places them in a good stead to overcome the Hoodoo against Spanish teams considering the Bavarians have been eliminated by a Spanish side in each of the last four Champions league seasons.
On the other side, Vincenzo Montella will be banking on history on his side to help them beat Bayern as Sevilla remain undefeated against German teams in 11 games. The Spaniards upset the odds in the last 16 to beat Manchester United and will take confidence in that game heading into this game.
Bayern enter this clash in high-spirits as they white washed Dortmund 6-0 in last weekend’s Bundesliga encounter while Sevilla gave away a two goal lead against league leaders Barca.
Verdict: Sevilla are looking like the dark horses in this competition and Bayern Munich must be careful to avoid an upset heading into this clash. This one may end in a score draw Sevilla 2- 2 Bayern or Bayern may nick a win with a slim margin.
LIVERPOOL VS MANCHESTER CITY
This English derby in Europe is arguably the most anticipated game in this round of the competition. With Mohammed Salah and Kevin de Bruyne in the form of their lives both teams will be looking at cancelling each other out for the third time this season.
Liverpool are the only side to have beaten the Citizens in the league and Pep Guardiola will be wary of the threat the Reds pose to their Champions League ambitions. For one reason or the other, Guardiola has failed to win the European cup outside Barcelona and would fancy his chances of breaking the jinx with City. However, he would have to overcome a Jurgen Klopp tutored side once again to help him accomplish that feat. Klopp has a better head to head record vs Pep and will be confident of his side winning this first leg at Anfield.
The Citizens are yet to win a game at Anfield since 2003 and would have to play the game of their lives to upset the Anfield crowd on a Champions League night. The front three of Salah, Firmino and Mane can blitz through any defence once they hit top gear and City must keep close tabs on that trio.
Both teams warmed up with a win in the league clash and have been in fine form in recent weeks.
Verdict: it’s a hard one to call but I’m tipping Liverpool to win this tie by 3-1.
FC BARCELONA VS ROMA
Barcelona welcome Roma to the Nou Camp as they look to give themselves a comfortable lead ahead of their second-leg in Rome.
The La-Liga leaders have been prolific in front of goal (11 goals in their last four home games) and Roma will be hoping to leave the Nou Camp with their hopes of progression still intact.
Roma has proven to be a hard nut to crack in this season’s competition and have produced results when least expected. The 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge earlier in the group stages is a proof that the Italians can score goals away from home. Apart from the loss to Espanyol in the cup game, FC Barca are still unbeaten in other competitions. The brilliance of Lionel Messi was all it took for them to recover a two goal deficit against Sevilla, and that’s one man Roma has to be wary of.
Verdict: This one should be a comfortable home win for FC Barca .