Champions League Quarterfinals 2018

Well, the temperature is soaring the excitement are uncontrollable and we all can’t wait to get the UCL Quarters to start. The draw could have been much better if it was something else, but hey it is what it is, and I am sure it still had lot of excitement and thrills in the bag to offer.

Let’s start with the surprise teams in the elite 8 of the European contents.  Two teams I didn’t expect to see in the Quarters are Sevilla and Roma. Sevilla surprised everyone with the performance they put against Manchester United home and away and book their ticket to the Quarters deservedly. Sevilla with the performance they are having in the league made all the analysts and pundits to rethink before writing off any team until the last whistle of the game.  That’s the beauty of this beautiful game isn’t it? Roma not much they did have an away goal and they made their way to quarters. But their last game was all to play for both sides and it went till Dzeko scored the 59th winner and after they did everything to stop Donetsk. They did deserver all the credit for their place in the Quarters. It wasn’t the case, when their group was announced, they were ranked the third team in the group with the likes of Chelsea and Atletico Madrid. But again, this is Football you never know everything.

So, KUDOS to Sevilla and Roma and Good luck to them.

Now let’s look at the fixtures. Everyone was expecting to see an European El Classico in the quarters, but I would say, save the best for the last. And looks like the football god listened me this time :). The last time the El Classico happened was in 2010/11, and everyone still remembers the solo goal by Messi in Santiago Bernab’eu. Everyone was licking their lips for that. Well the draws are out here, but l still wanted to see something else which didn’t happen.

Sevilla Vs Roma, No All English draw that didn’t happen. I wanted to see at least one of the surprise team to go further, u never know but still it would have a sure shot if that have happened. I also wanted to see both English team to be in Semi Final. Both teams are flying high and they both play aggressive football. The game would have been electric, and it’s been very long we have seen multiple EPL teams going farther in this competition.

But hey it is just my 2 words u never know Sevilla can upset Bayern and Roma can upset Barcelona and we might have both in Semi Final but for more English we must wait more.

Ok enough said and done let’s look at the draws and what I think be the result.

Bayern Munich Vs Sevilla

Bayern an European Powerhouse has been always regarded as the favorites in UCL. The last time they Managed to win was in 2012/13 season under Jupp Heynckes when they won everything they played for. Guess who the coach is now Jupp Heynckes!  Bayern did not have the same performance throughout this season they were struggling earlier with Carlo Ancelotti and at the end was sacked. Appointing Jupp Heynckes has not only been good for Bayern but they also have put themselves in the front row for the UCL championship.  Since last winning the champions league in 12/13 season Bayern was knocked out in past three season by teams of Spain. Barcelona in 14/15, Atletico in 15/16, and Real Madrid in 16/17. Though the last one was raised with lot of controversies but hey that’s football and at the end you must score to win no matter how.

Let’s talk about Sevilla, Sevilla is a new entry in QF in modern day UCL the last time they were in Quarter Finals of UCL was in 1958. That’s more than 50+ years. So, this is history for Sevilla in UCL, but they are not a new name in Europe. They dominated the Europa League for years, until they started to advance in knockout stage in Champions League. Sevilla is having one of the bad season domestically, though they are still ranked 6th in Primera Division (Spanish League or La Liga). Their performance has been way below their standard. The way the team was making headlines in European competition there was a hope of having a new powerhouse in Spain. But conceding 5 against CSKA Moscow, Real Betis, Eibar, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid the usual suspects, they were written off long time.  But contrary to league they have been doing pretty good in cup competition. They beat Atletico Madrid in their way to Copa Del Rey Final and they outplayed Manchester united (with the standard they both have) and book themselves a meeting in Allianz Arena with Bayern Munich.

Let’s talk about the result now, does Sevilla has any chance against Bayern. Does the Voodoo of Spanish team will still hunt Bayern Munich again this season? Well, never know but to be honest if Sevilla can reproduce the same fate as against Manchester United I will be surprised. Why do I think that?

Bayern is a complete team with more balance and more qualities than Sevilla, honestly there is no comparison with Sevilla. Bayern squad is full of experience, talent and maturity. There are lot of players who have won this championship before and with league almost wrapped this is the prize they will be really focused on. But the story has been same last three years, Bayern did walk the league still they were not able to go past Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid. That’s where Sevilla have their chances. That little something, can they capitalize on that can the team of Lenglet, Escudero stop the fire power of Lewandowski and Mueller and Can Nzozi and Ben Yedder repeat the magic again and rewrite the history.

Who knows this is football anything can happen!!!

Sevilla still must put lot of fight to book their tickets to European competition next year, with their bad performances continuing in the league. They play Barcelona before they play Bayern where Bayern have the chance to rest their stars as their league is almost done, with almost 20 points of ahead the second place.

So, I put my Money on Bayern and for me they are heavy favorites.

Barcelona Vs A.S. Roma

Barcelona, one of the favorites and Roma the dark horse of the tournament.  Here they meet again, last time they met in UCL was in group stage of 15/16 season. In that tie Barcelona destroyed Roma at Camp Nou with 6-1 but Roma did get some fight back at their home in Stadio Olimpico, Rome and drew the match 1-1.

Well things have changed not a lot but enough in 2 years. Barcelona is a different team now with a different identity and not the usual Barcelona, but they are just doing it enough to Win. Roma is still in the same phase as it was last 2 years. They lose firm and they get it back and again they loose and they get it back. It has been the story of Roma for few years. Neither they have progressed much in UCL nor they have clinched the Seria A. They did come close last year but looks like they still have more to do. They haven’t been that bad either, so they have been consistent in the top 4 to make it UCL and UCL Quarter in 17/18 is their best since 07/08 season.  That was the last year when they won something as a silverware the COPA Italia of 07/08.

Can this be the year when they announce themselves as one of the best, can they bring the glory of 2001 back to Rome?

Can AS Roma get result against the team which has lost only 1 game throughout the season. Can they do what the likes of Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid couldn’t do this. Barcelona currently inspired by Lionel Messi  is flying not so high but high enough to be declared as one of the tournament favorites.  They haven’t lost a single game in UCL and it was back in 2013 when they lost a UCL game in home. Though they have been knocked out not losing at home which can be a better chance for AS Roma. Ans it was a team from Italy who knocked them out last season.

Can the likes of  Diego Perotti , Edin  Dzeko, Radja Nainggolan can break the wall of Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique ?  Can Roma stop the fire strokes from Suarez  the never ending tricks and turns from Iniesta ?

Never know it is Football!

I will be surprised a bit not as much as Sevilla but a little bit less if that happens. I don’t see much chance for Roma to go against Barcelona and win.  The first game is in Barcelona and that is more bad news for Roma. If they can get any kind of result or a draw, then they have a big chance for the Semi Final.  But with the form of Barcelona at home the last game against Chelsea where they were not playing as good as Chelsea but still won the game with 3-0. Which tells most of the story of this Barcelona team. They are not the Pep Era team but still so far, they are getting it done in their way. With all the things going on I am putting my money on for Barcelona.

All in all, let’s hope we have a competitive match a tight score thriller.

Real Madrid Vs Juventus

Well, here is the big one the repeat of last year’s Cardiff Final. The game where Real Madrid completely destroyed the wall of  Buffon and Chiellini and their warriors. It was a close contest until the half and then it was all humiliation one after another. Cristiano Ronaldo  won his first UCL in 90 minutes and did that in style scoring a brace against the toughest defense of the tournament and proving again to the whole criticism the age is, was and will be just number to him always.  For Juventus it was a disappointment as the expectation was there from them, the way the team has fared in the whole competition. The balance in the team but at the end they succumb to the attacking power of Real Madrid and Allegri’s tactical changes after the halftime backfired on him badly.

After a year here, they met again.

Juventus is not the same Old lady as in 2017 they are much poor compare to last season. They were struggling with their standard in Seria A but in late they did find some help or some sort of form back together. They have a little margin at the top in the table which is the only left League in Europe which has some thrills going on. Much of the same fate to Real Madrid too. Domestically they have been poor very poor. One of the worst in history so far. They got knocked out from the Spanish Cup by a Leganes a mid-table team in League and they are 15 points behind the league leader their fierce rival Barcelona.

The only silverware Real Madrid have any chance of getting this year is Champions League. Matter of fact they are doing pretty good in UCL compare to their domestic debacle. Though they lost to Tottenham in the group phase they knocked out the over-hyped PSG in two legs and when PSG lose their star player Neymar to injury it was never going to happen for PSG. Whereas Juventus managed their way to Quarterfinals just enough. They were poor throughout the 2 legs with Tottenham but at the end their experience and the resilient of the old lady emerged victorious.

Juventus and Real Madrid has faced each other 19th times in Champions League. Except in Finals in the modern UCL era Juventus has always beaten Real Madrid in the knock out stage. After beating in Cardiff in last year’s final Real Madrid have edged Juventus by 9 wins compared to Old Lady’s 8. Juventus have never won in the Final against and it is long time before they lost to real Madrid in the knockout stages. Here is all the match up and results between these two http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=2465944.html   

Let’s talk about 2018, Real Madrid have found their form back in 2018 with Ronaldo scoring at least 2 goal an average in last 10 meetings and the team performing very well. Juventus who have still to catch the consistency with their form. They ended in draw with the bottom table SPAL recently and Madrid demolished Girona whom they lost in early meeting by 6-1 before heading to International break.

Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio has been hitting the top form with Benzema , Marcelo leaded by the top form of CR7 again. The only worry is the clean-sheet. They haven’t maintained clean sheet in long time. They always have conceded goals in almost every game. Which can be a worry factor for Zidane playing against more defensive side like Juventus. Whereas in case of Juventus they have been strong in defense as usual, but their strikers aren’t as in form as you expect them to be. Dybala , Higuain did start scoring in recent times but the consistency isn’t there yet. Mandzukic hasn’t scored 5 goals in the league yet and they have to depend upon their midfielders Matuidi , Pjanic to pull off something at the end.

What do you think? who is going to be in the draw sheet for Semi Finals.

Let’s do a 1-1 comparison

Goalkeeper– Juventus

Defense– Juventus

Midfield– Madrid

Striker– Madrid

It looks very fifty fifty to me. Madrid are sailing high with their strike force where Juventus are still resilient as they are, and they are taking the opportunities of the opponent defense mistakes. Which can work for team like Madrid looking their recent defensive performances.

I will lean little more to Juventus in this fixture. The first game is in Allianz Stadium, Juventus home and if they can get any good result here we know how they are going to play the second league.  I see no chance of Juventus losing a first league in Juventus and getting a result going back to Madrid, this is not Tottenham. If they want to win against Madrid they have to kill the game multiple times in Juventus itself.

So, my money is on Juventus 51-49. Old lady for a very narrow marginal victory.

I think Juventus will take the advantage of Madrid Defense and they will play more compact to stop CR7 and his force.

Liverpool Vs Manchester City

Finally, the best for the last. Battle against an absolute unstoppable attack force against a trend setter a definition of game. No matter what anyone say Manchester City the current team is the best team in Europe. They are playing not only the best but the most beautiful game that you will watch and enjoy in Europe now. After spending millions in defense  Pep have got the team that he desired and it is working all in his favor as an unstoppable force all around.

When Manchester City were totally unstoppable, and they were crushing every one that come in their way, there stood up a team who gave them the treat of own medicine. You know the name of that team? Yeah that is Liverpool. The first loss Manchester City faced in the premier league was from the hand of Kloop in Anfield where they were destroyed by the unstoppable attack trio of Liverpool.

Domestically City are flying super high except the loss that they faced against Liverpool they have been completely unstoppable.  The difference of 16 points between them and the second place Manchester United in the so called toughest league reflects the strength and domination of Manchester City.  Whereas Liverpool still have a fight to fight to stay in the top 4 which is still not guaranteed. Liverpool run the riot against team like Watford, but they couldn’t repeat the same kind of performance against Manchester United in recent meeting. They have been knocked out of all the domestic cups and the way the league is almost wrapped up, the only cup they can fight for the silverware left is UCL. City have already started the winning taste with the carabao cup and with the league almost done the only thing they really have to fight on is the UCL. Since Pep left Barcelona he has never been able to repeat the same success in Europe. The one title he has not won is the UCL. He would like to repeat his success in Europe with an English team and glorify his legacy.

If we take off this season Liverpool has dominated the matchups between these two. Historically they hold the advantage of the matchup. But history is a history and it hardly matters today.  Major part of Liverpool form is carried by one man of the team Salah though Mane and Firminho   are also playing a level more than their usual but you can’t ignore the fact that Salah just have been out of this world. Other than the attacking trio Liverpool did have their own drawbacks. After buying Van Dijk  to strengthen the backline they still struggle with a firm backline and they lack a top class goal keeper. As consistent their front line has been they have been lacking same feature in rest of the department.

Whereas in case of Manchester city their drawback is they don’t seem to have one. Other than an off day they seem to be the perfect team that you could imagine. The backline leaded by Otamendi  , with the full backs like Kyle Walker , the midfield with De Bryune, David Silva and the attacking power of Aguero, Sterling ,Sane I mean you name it. The way the players have transformed themselves under pep is just beyond your imagination. It’s too hard not to pick Manchester City with the game they are playing in every competition.

But it’s not always roses for everyone, it does come with thorns and if you are not careful you might return with blood on your finger. Losing to Wigan in FA Cup and getting humiliated by Liverpool does tells you that, you can break Manchester City. The only thing is you don’t know how. You still need to wait for Stones to be in the playing 11 and made some silly mistake or Otamendi has an off day and make some misjudgment. Liverpool will wait to capitalize on those chances. If they can take those chances, then might have a chance. But Liverpool have bigger cracks in their own backline than Manchester City.

But having the return league in home and with the recent record against City at their home, they should get some hope to get something out of the game. The first league will be the decider I guess, I don’t see city going to Anfield and turning over a lost bet. For Liverpool they need to get goals in the first either win or a draw, which will give them the confidence they need in front of their fans in Anfield.

I will put my money on Manchester City, I don’t think lot of things will go wrong for them to lose with the quality they have. Even Liverpool are one of the fiercest attackers now in Europe, they won’t be able to stop City with the holes they have in their backline.

All in all, let’s hope we will have entertaining games and every game became competitive with lot of thrills.

You can leave your two words at the comment boxes and may be why how horrible my analysis is. 😊

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply