Champions League Predictions
With club competition in full swing, this is easily the busiest time of the year for the top clubs in Europe. While some now have the sole focus on top four finishes, there are a select few that still have hopes to achieve ultimate European glory. As of Friday the draw was set, and we now know the matches for Quarter Final competition. With only eight teams remaining, the competition is sure to be fierce as we roll on towards the final. Without further ado, I am Mike Hamby for WPTS Sports, and here are my predictions for the Champions League Quarter Finals.
Manchester City vs Liverpool: In what should be a barn burner of a match, the top two clubs in the Premier League face off in the Quarter Finals. Liverpool’s fantastic run of form has recently come to an end, losing at Old Trafford 2-1 thanks to some great bus-parking by the Special One. However, the reds quickly bounced back this week with a strong 5-0 at Anfield against Watford, thanks in no small part to Mo Salah, who had four goals and an assist. Man City are still England’s top club, and have essentially been crowned as the winners of this year in the EPL. Both teams are on the top of their game, and split their matches in the Premier League this year. Liverpool are probably the only team in the Premier League who can match City in speed and attacking ability, the only question remains their backline strength and stability. While City have seemed unstoppable this year, the defense has started to show some cracks as the season has worn on. The loss to Liverpool definitely exposed some of the Center Back struggles for the blues. However, both of these teams can afford to be lackadaisical in the back when they have the players up front that they do. Mohamed Salah for Liverpool is a top candidate for the Golden Boot, after playing absolutely spectacular throughout the season in all competitions for the reds (37 goals, 10 assists). Sergio Aguero on the other side has been up and down this year, but when he is on he can be a force in any game (31 goals, 7 assists). Those two are only the tip of the iceberg on the attacking half, and honestly I could talk about this match all day. Unfortunately I have to make a prediction and move on. I think this one is a match for the ages, and should be the best of the round. I’m taking City, while Liverpool are the only team to beat them in the Premier League this year, the blues have been in great form all season.
Prediction: Manchester City 6 – 5 on Aggregate
Juventus vs Real Madrid: Let me preface this match by saying I did not see this coming. Those of you who read my article on the first round saw that I had both of these clubs losing, so I am a bit surprised. Juventus did a fantastic job limiting Harry Kane and the plethora of talent that lurks on Tottenham’s front line. While there are plenty of accusations of diving, and a bit of rough play, Juve’s back line held up strong regardless, and really prevented Kane and Co. from bullying their way into opportunities. Real Madrid handled PSG with relative ease, cutting through the Parisian defense like butter on a hot croissant (see what I did there?). For all of his faults in the first half of this season, Ronaldo has shown up spectacularly in 2018, and made his presence felt in this match. PSG showed confidence in the first leg, swaggering in with the strong front of Cavani, Neymar, and Mbappe. However, things soon took a bad turn as Neymar went down and soon everything fell apart. Both clubs proved me wrong, but they definitely deserve to be here. I expect a strong defensive showing from Juve, they will have to be on top of their game to contain Ronaldo. Real has kept their Champions League hopes alive, and since Barcelona have wrapped up La Liga, this is all they have to play for. Expect big things from the stars in this one, but much like last years UCL Final, I just think Ronaldo will be too much. Juventus will put up a great fight, and Gianluigi Buffon will end up standing on his head like he always does, but it won’t be enough to stop Real.
Prediction: Real Madrid 4 – 2 on Aggregate
Barcelona vs Roma: Barcelona are so hot right now. They are the best team in Europe, and this is no longer a question thanks to Manchester City’s stumbles as of late. Lionel Messi has been a force in all competitions, but Champions League has allowed him to shine. After humiliating Chelsea with not one, BUT TWO nutmeg goals on Courtois, the little magician is now in the 100 Champions League goals club. The rest of Barca is also clicking at the right time. Dembele put on a masterclass in the midfield this week at Stamford Bridge, his first real show stopping performance since joining the club. Of course, Luis Suarez isn’t doing to shabby either, though I won’t speak too much about him as he has mostly dominated La Liga and not UCL. On the other side, we have Roma. The Italian side has had flashes of brilliance this season on both end of the pitch, though their lethality comes from pure, unabashed, pace. With a strong, tall backline, Roma’s defense can combat the aerial attack from Barca. This leaves them slightly exposed though, due to Barca’s tendency to keep it on the ground and their fantastic dribbling skills. Roma’s midfield is strong thanks to the brilliance of Central Midfielder Radja Nainggolan, who has been the puppet master behind several club wins this season. The attack is passed through the wing backs Kolarov and Florenzi who are fantastic at crossing into the box. Once the ball is in the box, it is hard to miss the giant that is Edin Dzeko, who will look to dominate the Catalonia backline. While Barcelona will be the favorite, with all the prowess they have, do not let that lull you into complacency. Roma can strike, and with Allison in goal, anything is possible for this club. I think this will be dependent on the first leg in Camp Nou, and I am going to give it to Barcelona in this one.
Prediction: Barcelona 5 – 2 on Aggregate
Bayern Munich vs Sevilla: This match should be pretty simple to figure out. In one hand, you have the best team in Germany. In the other, you have a Spanish club that lost to Leganes 2-1. Sevilla are not a bad club by any means, they are talented up front, have a strong midfield, and a decent backline. However, Bayern Munich is an unstoppable force, one that can dominate any situation. With Lewandowski up front, followed by a cast of characters each strong enough to star on their own team, Bayern has been a dominant force in football for a long time. Sevilla have faced tough opponents before, and in a league where they play Real Madrid and Barcelona twice a year, are no strangers to superstars. However, Bayern presents as a different animal, with a strong backline, dominant midfield, and a propensity to play slow, methodical football. This pace will offset Sevilla pretty easily, as they do much better in an open, free flowing game. This leads me to believe that Bayern should dominate this one from the jump. I have no doubt that Sevilla will put up some goals, Ben Yedder and Co. have wicked pace, and should be able to strike on the counter decently. However, Bayern will most likely be too much to overcome, and I expect this to be a smooth victory for Munich.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 6 – 2 on Aggregate
That wraps up my Quarter Finals predictions on the Champions League! Thank you for reading, be sure to check back when the next round is announced for more previews and predictions. Don’t forget to check out our football podcast either, it is called Stoppage Time!