We are reaching the stage of the Champions League and the Europa League now where every tie means that little bit more. With a place in the semifinals up for grabs this week for the 16 teams remaining across both competitions, it is going to be three nights of drama starting tonight in the Champions League as we find out who comes out on top in the quarterfinal second leg ties.
British teams have fared well with only the two Manchester clubs, City and United, being defeated in the first leg of their games, with all four of the other British representatives across the two competitions winning. However, with just a one-goal deficit, the two Manchester clubs will have hopes of being able to overturn that in the second leg.
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Here’s our preview of the four Champions League games coming up this week together with our predictions for who will qualify from each. The score from the first leg is shown in brackets beside each game and all games kick off at 8pm in the Champions League this week.
Tuesday 16th April
Barcelona v Manchester United (1-0)
A deflected Luis Suarez header that went in off Luke Shaw, who is suspended for this second leg, was the difference between the sides at Old Trafford in a game that saw Barcelona struggle to gain any foothold in the game offensively, but which also saw the Catalan side see of United attacks relatively easily to hang on to their narrow lead for the second leg in Spain.
This promises to be a huge task for United as Barcelona have not lost any of their last 30 games in the Champions League at home, a run stretching back to 2013,and although United shocked PSG in Paris last time out in this competition, it is hard to see how they could engineer a similar result here against a vastly more experienced Barcelona side.
United have never won in the Nou Camp against Barcelona, but they have won this tournament in the stadium, beating Bayern Munich in 2000. Those memories will be fresh in the memory of many United fans who will hope that they can go on to record a similar result here, but in truth I feel that is unlikely.
I think Barcelona qualify with a win on the night and I’m backing Lionel Messi to grab a goal especially since Luke Shaw, who marked him well at Old Trafford in the first leg, will be absent through suspension.
This was a hard fought first leg in Amsterdam with Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener for Juventus cancelled out in the second half by a neat Ajax equaliser. The Dutch side is brimming with young talent that is already attracting plenty of interest from European football’s biggest sides and this could well be the last hurrah in this tournament for many of the Ajax squad if transfer rumours are to be believed.
They face a massive task against a Juventus side that are certain to win Serie A but who spent €90 million on Cristiano Ronaldo last summer to try and win this competition. After a solid performance in Amsterdam, the home side have a good foundation on which to build here.
Ajax will know that they are beatable at home though. Manchester United did that earlier this season and last year Real Madrid did so in style. So this game is not yet over by any means, although I do feel Ajax have a very tough job on their hands.
As such I am backing Juventus to claim the win on the night in an unusually entertaining game and while Ajax will put up a brave display, I feel it will be Cristiano Ronaldo who puts them to the sword.
Result – Juventus to win – 8/11
To Qualify – Juventus – 1/3
Correct Score – Juventus to win 3-1 – 12/1
Anytime Goalscorer – Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) – 4/6
Wednesday 17th April
FC Porto v Liverpool (0-2)
A strong showing in the first leg of this tie has put Liverpool, last year’s beaten finalists in this competition, in a strong position heading into the second leg of this tie and to a ground where they recorded a 5-0 win over the host team on their way to last year’s final.
FC Porto will be under no illusions as to the size of the task facing them as they take on Jurgen Klopp’s side who earned a superb win over Chelsea at the weekend to reclaim top spot in the Premier League in what has been an epic battle between then and Manchester City since the start of the season.
FC Porto have done well domestically and in Europe but they were found wanting by Liverpool at Anfield and I think that they are going to struggle at home too, especially with the Reds front three so adept at attacking on the counter, which they did to devastating effect in this stadium last season.
Sadio Mane grabbed a vital goal on Sunday and I am backing him to score again here in what should be a narrow win for the Reds which will confirm their place in the semifinals.
Result – Liverpool to win – 11/10
To Qualify – Liverpool – 1/33
Correct Score – Liverpool to win 2-1 – 15/2
Anytime Goalscorer – Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – 15/8
Manchester City v Tottenham (0-1)
A dramatic night at the new Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium saw Sergio Aguero see his first half penalty saved by Hugo Lloris and then in the second half, after the departure of Harry Kane through injury, Son managed to give Tottenham a deserved lead in a game that the home side had dominated.
Spurs now know that a goal in Manchester on Wednesday night will mean City need three goals to win the game and that is a big ask against a Spurs side that have been in great form in the Champions League since the first couple of group games, where they started very slowly.
City though have been in sensational form all season long and after a good win over Crystal Palace at the weekend, they’ll be confident ahead of this game. Leroy Sane usually is a key man in the big games for City and I feel he is a good choice to back as an anytime goalscorer and I do feel City will win the game on the night.
The question is whether they will qualify and that is the more difficult option and I have decided that they will just about do so, earning a 3-1 win to nudge Spurs out of the tournament.
Ian has been a lifelong avid poker player, and is also well-versed in the worlds of online sports betting, casino gaming, and the burgeoning eSports industry. UK-based Ian has written for several years for a wide variety of online publications, and is especially adept at bringing readers inside the latest and greatest games.