Quarterfinals 1: Manchester City vs Borussia Dortmund
Manchester City are set to play Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League quarterfinals. Manchester City, who are leading the Premier League as of April 1, have yet to win the Champions League under manager Pep Guardiola. This should be enough to motivate the club to win this year’s Champions League title. In comparison, Borussia Dortmund are currently fourth in the Bundesliga, 18 points behind league leaders Bayern Munich.
Dortmund’s star striker Erling Haaland, who scored 21 goals so far this season, will be a thorn in the Manchester City defence. However, Manchester City remain a stronger defensive side, conceding only 21 goals in total in the Premier League. Dortmund, on the other hand, conceded 37 goals in the Bundesliga. Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan are key to Manchester City’s successful run in the Premier League, and will be game changers in the matches against Dortmund. Manchester City are expected to qualify for the semifinals.
Quarterfinals 2: Chelsea vs FC Porto
Neither Chelsea nor Porto were expected to win their respective qualifying matches, yet both qualified for the next round of the competition. Chelsea’s convincing win against Atletico Madrid makes them a much more promising side than first expected. Atletico is known for defensive prowess, yet Chelsea, dealing with star striker Timo Werner’s goal drought, were able to put three past the Madrid giants. Porto’s result in the previous leg was much less convincing, advancing on the tiebreaker of away goals against Italian powerhouse Juventus. However, their win was an arguably bigger upset as they were able to defeat a Juventus side which boasts stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo.
Reborn under Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea and their defensive stability will be too strong for Porto to break. Yet, Porto have shown they can pull off the unexpected. Still, it should be Chelsea advancing to the semifinals. Julia Miracle, U1 Arts, believes Chelsea will advance, but expects a difficult tie.
“I’m predicting a 2-1 final score across two legs,” Miracle said to The McGill Tribune. “Chelsea has Olivier Giroud, who has six Champions League goals, and Porto does not have a similarly prolific striker. Regardless, Porto were able to hold off Ronaldo and Juventus, so anything is possible.”
Quarterfinals 3: Bayern Munich vs Paris Saint Germain FC
In a repeat of the 2019-20 Champions League final, Bayern Munich will clash with Paris Saint Germain (PSG) in the quarterfinals of this year’s Champions League. Dominant striker Robert Lewandowski’s ligament injury is a huge offensive setback for Bayern Munich. Lewandowski is the leading goal scorer in the Bundesliga, scoring 35 goals this season. With Neymar Jr. expected to return from injury by April 7, PSG can put up their strongest squad in the fixture. PSG are currently second in the Ligue 1, with Lille OSC leading by three points.
World Cup winner and PSG striker Kylian Mbappe is a huge threat to the Bayern defence. Mbappe is the Ligue 1 top scorer with 20 goals so far this season. Germany’s shocking defeat to the North Macedonia national team on March 31 in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers has dealt a tremendous blow to their confidence. PSG’s impressive win over Barcelona in the round of 16 gives the team added momentum to triumph over Bayern Munich and advance to the semifinals.
Quarterfinals 4: Real Madrid vs Liverpool
Whichever club’s key players return from injury will walk away victorious from this star-studded clash of football titans. News came out recently that Real Madrid’s captain Sergio Ramos will not be playing due to injury. Additionally, Liverpool have been missing their usual centre-back pairing of Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez all season. Both teams have had subpar domestic campaigns compared to their usual successes. Sean Hall, U0 Arts, mentioned the team’s injuries and inconsistencies in his own analysis of the tie.
“Real Madrid [vs] Liverpool is going to be an absolute toss-up,” Hall said to the Tribune. “Real Madrid have been rocky but have started to get their act together, and if Liverpool show up [strong] they can score a lot of goals. With all the injuries to Klopp’s side [Liverpool], they are [vulnerable to] giving away easy opportunities that Benzema [Real Madrid] can put away.”
This tie will ultimately come down to one critical component: Whether Real Madrid’s experienced midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, and Casemiro can control the game. If the trio can dominate the centre, they will drive Liverpool to make mistakes, and provide their forward Karim Benzema many chances to score. If not, Liverpool’s three-pronged attack, highlighted by wingers Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, will score enough to take them through to the semifinal. Liverpool’s strong forward trio should take over this tie and help them advance to the next round.
Semifinals 1: Manchester City vs Paris Saint Germain
The potential of a Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) semifinal clash is a delight to every football fan. Both are top European soccer clubs leading their respective domestic leagues, but the extent of each team’s dominance differs. Manchester City is clearly the top contender for this year’s Premier League title, 14 points ahead of second-place Manchester United. Pep Guardiola won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2009, and is expected to take Manchester City to the Champions League final in Istanbul this year.
Despite Manchester City’s success, Thomas Jogand-Coulomb, U0 Science, believes PSG might be able to prevail.
“I would hate that PSG go through, of course,” Jogand-Coulomb, who is a Marseille local, said to the Tribune. “But, I think they definitely have the team to do it and [Mauricio] Pochettino could definitely bring them to the final, and Neymar Jr. could do something crazy.”
Semifinals 2: Chelsea vs Liverpool
An English semifinal would make for a chaotic match as soon as the opening whistle blows. This scrappy tie will motivate players to leave everything they have on the pitch. Chelsea’s recent success has been based on high-level defence, which is necessary to slow down Liverpool’s powerful attack. If Liverpool’s offence is rendered useless, the rest of the side—filled with substitutes—must exceed our expectations. Divock Origi may have brought heroic substitutes in the past, but the Chelsea side is too well-coached to fall victim to a quick corner routine. Expect the Blues to continue their Cinderella story all the way to the Champions League Final.
Final: Manchester City vs Chelsea
Chelsea last won the Champions League in 2012. Having spent $292 million on his team in the summer, owner Roman Abramovich is counting on the team winning the title. Chelsea are a new team under manager Thomas Tuchel—undefeated in the past 14 matches. It looks like Chelsea could replicate their 2012 run, where they defeated Barcelona in the semifinals on two away goals.
Manchester City have almost been on cruise control this year. They are 14 points ahead of second place in the Premier League, and qualified for the EFL Cup final and the FA Cup semifinal. Due to the pandemic, games have been condensed in their time, meaning this Manchester City side has all the makings of possible late-stage burnout.
The Tribune predicts a Chelsea win. In past Champions Leagues, the pressure on Pep Guardiola led to him overcomplicating tactics in big games. Additionally, Chelsea would have a fully fit squad while Manchester City aim to survive their overwhelming schedule. In a City-Chelsea final, Chelsea are the underdogs, but might just sneak a win against the near-perfect City side.