football

All Still To Play For: The Champions League Quarter Final Second Legs

April 18, 2017

- Grant Whittington

This last four of this season’s UEFA Champions League football will be determined as the eight teams left standing endeavour to push themselves closer to the biggest prize in club football. Here we look ahead to four intriguing contests and how we expect the action to unfold.

Leicester City (0) vs. Atletico Madrid (1)

The reigning Premier League Champions returned from the Vicente Calderon with enormous credit for their tenacious display which has kept this tie firmly in the balance. A controversial Antoine Griezmann penalty was all that separated the two sides in Spain and the Foxes will be hopeful their strong home record can lead to another historic night in this season’s competition.

However, make no mistake – Diego Simeone’s side are still overwhelming favourites to progress and an away goal will kill off any dreams that Leicester have of reaching the last four. The Spaniards have reached the final twice in three years and on paper should have too much firepower for Craig Shakespeare’s underdogs.

On the other hand, Leicester continue to show us that anything is possible with their stunning knockout of Sevilla in the previous round testament to their self-belief. The atmosphere at the King Power Stadium is going to be electric, but surely it is only a matter of time before this fairytale comes to an end.

Prediction: Leicester 0 – 1 Athletico Madrid

Real Madrid (2) vs. Bayern Munich (1)

The Bavarians appeared irresistible in their last-16 demolition of Arsenal, but Carlo Ancelotti’s side were powerless to prevent goal machine Cristiano Ronaldo from turning this tie on its head with a second-half brace. A wild penalty miss from Arturo Vidal would have doubled Bayern’s lead on the stroke of half-time and ultimately this could be the decisive chapter in how this story between two European giants plays out.

Alternatively, Real may feel aggrieved that they failed to kill off 10-man Munich, with an inspired display from home keeper Manuel Neuer leading Madrid Coach Zinedine Zidane to compare the German number one to a ‘wall’.

The Spanish side have now scored in an unprecedented 54 consecutive matches and are always dominant at the Bernabeu – I expect them to prolong this record after tonight’s events.

Bayern have to score at least twice to keep their hopes of a sixth European Cup alive. Even with the return of their talisman Robert Lewandowski, I feel that they have left themselves too much work to do and Madrid will move a step closer to becoming the first club to retain the coveted prize since its rebranding in 1992.

Prediction: Real Madrid 1 – 1 Bayern Munich

Monaco (3) vs. Borussia Dortmund (2)

Despite the horrific events in Dortmund last week, an exhilarating first-leg saw the French side edge a five-goal thriller at the Westfalenstadion. Leonardo Jardim’s side have lit up this year’s tournament with their exciting brand of free-flowing attacking football and defensive abandonment. It is going to take a monumental effort from Thomas Tuchel’s side to wrestle this tie away from Les Monegasques who have the advantage of three away goals going into tomorrow night.

The Germans have also found the back of the net at will during this campaign with their tally of 21 goals in the group stages a competition record. If they can grab the first goal in the Stade Louis II, neutrals will be in for another memorable encounter.

A flurry of goals is certainly work backing on football betting sites in the UK and highly-rated teenager Kylian Mbappe to add to his double from last week’s victory.

Prediction: Monaco 2 – 2 Borussia Dortmund

Barcelona (0) vs. Juventus (3)       

Despite Barcelona’s herculean comeback against PSG in which they somehow overturned a 4-0 deficit, this clash has a completely different feel altogether. Juventus had gone relatively under the radar prior to last week’s first-leg, but their hunger and quality was evident throughout their dominant 3-0 victory over the Catalan giants.

Argentine striker Paulo Dybala upstaged his illustrious compatriot Lionel Messi with a fine two-goal salvo and it is going to take something even more special than the last round if Luis Enrqiue’s side are to pierce this stout defensive barrier three times or more.

The Nou Camp will be rocking, but surely even this undertaking is beyond the realms of MSN. It would seem foolish to write off Barcelona’s hopes, but Juventus’ ageing squad have proved there is still life left in the Old Lady as they aim to capture a trophy they last lifted in 1996.

Prediction: Barcelona 2 – 1 Juventus

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