Champions League QF Preview Part 1

It is back!

Juventus vs. Real Madrid 

Last year’s final played over two legs. Juventus have maintained their dominance of Serie A this season although that might come to end if Napoli manage to win it. Real Madrid have not been able to mount a successful La Liga defense and Barcelona probably will end up winning it this season. Real Madrid and Chelsea have had similar seasons but while Chelsea have some how managed to fall further down this year Real Madrid have roared back led by a rejuvenated Cristiano Ronaldo. 21 goals from 13 games in 2018 has thrashed any talk of Ronaldo losing his touch, playing more centrally and relying on instinct rather than pace has helped in Ronaldo’s return to form and it could not come at a better time. The whole Madrid team seems to have found some sort of form with players like Bale also managing to notch a few goals in recent weeks, the only outlier seems to be Benzema who has been poor throughout the season. Real comfortably knockedout out PSG 5-2 on aggregate in the round of 16, a fixture that many thought PSG would win. Real however showcased why they have won the trophy in the last two seasons. 

Napoli have not let Juventus run away with Serie A this season but Juventus have still managed to gain some breathing space with 4 points separating the two teams. Juve’s star players this season have been Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain contributing 42 goals between them. Juve’s round of 16 fixture was against Tottenham Hotspur and a 2-2 draw in Turin in the first leg suggested that Spurs had the upper hand going into the second leg. That was certainly the case in the first half at Wembley when Son scored to give Spurs the lead and send fans into raptures. Allegri though has not come to be known as shrewd tactician for nothing and a strong defensive performance in the second half led to a goal by Higuain in the 64th minute. Dybala sealed the comeback in the 67th minute to knock Spurs out of the Champions league.

Real Madrid and Juventus were written off by several pundits in the round of 16 only to prove that experience plays a major part in the outcome of such games. Juventus have suffered heartbreak in two champions league final’s recently losing to Barca in one and Real the other, though a game over two legs should be different prospect. First legs are usually cagey affairs, Juventus will prioritise a clean sheet while Real will want to get an away goal or two. This will most definitely be the fixture to watch on Tuesday. 

Sevilla vs. Bayern Munich 

Sevilla sit 6th in La Liga so in most cases they will be prioritising their quarter final games against Bayern. A 2-2 draw with Barcelona at the weekend should encourage them but it should be noted that they were winning 2-0 till the 88th minute. Sevilla played Manchester United in the round of 16 and many thought there was really going to be only one outcome of that fixture. After a 0-0 draw in Seville which Sevilla dominated pundits suggested that United had the advantage going into the second leg at Old Trafford. In my opinion the fact that United had not managed to score an away goal was a disadvantage and Sevilla’s dominance in the first leg suggested that they were more than capable of getting a goal at United. The second leg remained a cagey affair although only one team looked like breaking the deadlock, and they did in the 74th minute when Ben Yedder gave Sevilla the lead. Ben Yedder doubled the lead in the 78th minute, and while Lukaku did manage to get a goal back it was no more than a consolation. 

17 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich can easily focus on dismantling Sevilla in Seville. Bayern played Besiktas in the round of 16 and an 8-1 aggregate scoreline should tell you all you need to know. Bayern had a poor start to their season according to their standards and sacked manager Carlo Ancelotti replacing him with a caretaker manager in the form of Jupp Heynckes (a Bayern legend). Their leading scorer has been Lewandowski with 31 goals in all competitions although other players like Muller, Rodriguez, Ribéry etc have hit a purple patch recently. A 6-0 win at the weekend against Dortmund would have only encouraged Bayern going into this fixture. 

Sevilla showed great character and attacking prowess against Manchester United, though it has to be said that United themselves have not been amazing this season. Bayern though should be a team too far for Sevilla and while it might be close in the first leg, over two legs there is no doubt that Bayern should reach the semi final of the Champions League. 

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