2020-21 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals outlook
Last season’s UEFA Champions League witnessed large-scale changes in its format owing to the spread of Covid-19 in the continent with the quarter-finals, semi-finals & finals being shifted to Lisbon, Portugal in its entirety.
The games played out in a knock-out fashion in place of the customary lengthy two-legged schedule, were wound up in a space of a fortnight with Bundesliga club Bayern Munich emerging champions by beating Paris St. Germain 1-0 in a tense finale.
FC Porto – Chelsea
Even after a year, Covid seems to have reared its head again as seen from the shifting of the Chelsea-Porto quarter-final to Seville in Spain. Both legs of the game that were originally scheduled to have been played out at Porto and London on April 7th and 13th have been now moved to Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan in Sevilla.
Being staged in a neutral venue both teams will be without home support. Chelsea are on a golden run of 15-unbeaten games across all competitions under new boss Thomas Tuchel. Moreover, Spanish soil being a happy hunting ground for the London club (having successfully beaten clubs like Atletico Madrid and Sevilla in the recent past), the Blues will be looking to get past Porto in the Final 8 stages.
Bayern Munich – Paris St Germain
The fate of the other three games of the quarter-finals is not very clear but there is little doubt about the mouth-watering nature of the contests. Revenge will very much be the theme for Paris St Germain as they taken on champions Bayern Munich. Bayern romped to their title win last August as they rode on the solitary goal by Kingsley Coman to overcome the Parisiennes in a tensely fought finals.
This is PSG’s second consecutive entry into the Final 8 after having being knocked out in the Round of 16 stage in three straight years. The French champions will be banking on the attacking firepower of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar & co. to challenge the might of Bayern who have won seven out of their eight fixtures in the current edition of the Champions League. PSG’s chances have received a huge boost, though, with the injury to Bayern “goal-machine” Robert Lewandowski who is ruled out for both the legs of the quarter-finals.
Real Madrid – Liverpool
For Liverpool, too, it could be payback time as they look to avenge their 2018 final loss to Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, who have had a below-par English Premier League season so far, gave a good account of themselves as they eased past an aggressive-minded RB Leipzig 4-0 on aggregate in the Round of 16 stage. Real Madrid managed to see off Italian club Atalanta 4-2 but are fortunate to have reached this stage after inexplicable defeats in both legs to a totally below-strength Shakhtar Donetsk in Group fixtures.
It will be chinks of these kind Liverpool will try to expose when they face the thirteen-time European champions on the 6th and 14th of this month. Given the uncertain forms of both sides, the Liverpool-Real duel could be a “evens stevens” affair.
Manchester City – Borussia Dortmund
The quarter-final tie between Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund has been given the go ahead by the UEFA as far as playing both the legs in their respective home venues on April 6 and April 13 is concerned. City under Pep Guardiola have been in red-hot form, losing just once in a run of 32 games across all competitions.
With the English Premier League title almost in the bag, Guardiola’s men, who have rarely gone beyond the final 8 stage of the Champions League, are the bookmakers’ hot favourites to take the title this time around.
But they may have to temper their expectations as it wasn’t very long ago in August that they were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by an unfancied Lyon. A Borussia Dortmund side with the likes the prolific Norwegian prodigy Erling Haaland, Marco Reus and Jaden Sancho in their ranks can’t simply be written off.
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