Previewing the Champions League Quarterfinals


Real Madrid are one of the teams competing for a spot in the semifinals. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Next week, the UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals kick off with the eight remaining teams all fighting for a spot in the semifinals of the competition. The first legs will be played either on Tuesday or Wednesday with the reverse fixture being played the following week on the other day. The quarterfinal ties are as follows:

Benfica v Liverpool

Manchester City v Atletico Madrid

Villareal v Bayern Munich

Chelsea v Real Madrid

The first tie is Benfica facing Liverpool. Heading into the tie, Liverpool is the fan favorite with its momentum in the Premier League and  progression in the other competitions. Liverpool’s attack has been bolstered with the winter signing of Luis Diaz. Combine that with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota, it’s hard to see how Benfica will be able to withstand the pressure for both matches. In addition to their star-studded attack, Liverpool’s defense isn’t easy to penetrate with center back Virgil Van Dijk and their fullback pairing of Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Liverpool should progress easily into the final four of the competition.

The next tie is Manchester City against Atletico Madrid. City is the current Premier League leaders but have stumbled in recent weeks, letting a 13-point gap to Liverpool be reduced down to a single point after a loss to Tottenham and a draw to Crystal Palace. City loves to play possessive and attacking football. On the other hand, Atletico Madrid is a defensive powerhouse. It sets itself up brilliantly on defense, soaking up all of the pressure and  easily punishing teams on the counter attack. Atletico showed this by knocking Manchester United out of the competition. Once it scored its goal on the counter, the team sat defensively and let the time run out. This one is more evenly balanced, but City should progress.

The third quarterfinal is Villareal against Bayern Munich. Villareal upset Juventus to progress while Bayern crushed RB Salzburg to advance to this point. Despite winning the second leg 7-1, Bayern drew the first leg 1-1, which should give hope to Villareal that another upset is possible. Bayern appears to be the favorite, but I believe this tie is closer than it appears. If Bayern comes out and plays like it did in the first leg of the round of 16, Villareal can punish them and make it to the semifinals. However, if Bayern shows up like it did in the second leg, it could be smooth sailing. I believe that Bayern will progress to the semifinals.

As for the final quarterfinal, it is Chelsea against Real Madrid. This is a repeat of last year’s semifinal, where Chelsea advanced to the final 3-1. Real Madrid came off of a 3-1 comeback victory against PSG with a Karim Benzema hat trick. Chelsea had an easier time in the round of 16, advancing 4-1 against Lille. Chelsea is a very strong team defensively with center backs such as Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger. Real Madrid does have a potent attack with Benzema, but has shown that without the Frenchman it can struggle as displayed by its 4-0 defeat by Barcelona in El Classico last week. I believe that Chelsea will advance.

The Liverpool and Manchester City ties will play their first leg on April 5 with the other two ties playing their first leg on the sixth. Then the Liverpool and City second leg ties will be played on April 13, with the other two ties playing their second leg on April 12. Take all of my predictions with a pinch of salt. After all, this is the champions league, where anything can and will happen.