After nearly a month of inactivity, the UEFA Champions League Quarter-final (Leg 1) is here!
Last month, we would have 16 power brands going head-to-head in the Round of 16, but it would be business as usual with the favorites winning to advance to the Quarter-final — though a couple of things would stick out.
Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain would take Leg 1 of the Round of 16, and would do so in 2-0 fashion on the road — things looked smoothly for PSG as a result. However, Manchester United would work their magic again and pummeled the Parisians by a 3-1 score to tie the aggregate up, 3-3. Due to having more away goals than Paris Saint-Germain, the Devils would the take Round of 16 win to advance to the Quarter-final. What’s even more fascinating is that United was able to take the Leg 2 win with just 27% of possession.
The post-Cristiano Ronaldo era for Real Madrid was going well, and after a road win over Ajax by a 2-1 score in the Round of 16 Leg 1, it looked like the Whites were on their way to the Quarter-final. However, Real Madrid would suffer a massive collapse while in Spain losing by a 4-1 blowout score. As a result, the Whites would take the 3-5 aggregate loss and the Sons of the Gods would advance to the Quarter-final. In the season before in the 2017-18 campaign with Ronaldo, Real Madrid would take the title.
For Juventus, the team who now employs the best soccer player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo, business continues going as they advance to the Quarter-final after beating Juventus by a 3-2 score in aggregate. On the road visiting Atletico Madrid in the Round of 16 Leg 1, things wouldn’t go so well for The Old Lady, losing 2-0. But an elite comeback would happen when Juventus would go back home and have a clean sweep 3-0 victory in Leg 2 for the 3-2 aggregate win, sending a Ronaldo-led Juventus to the Quarter-final.
ANALYSIS: After a dominating defensive performance against Dortmund (Aggregate: 4-0) in the Round of 16, Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-2) comes in with homeground advantage to start out the Quarter-final. And they’ll need it as they face off against English Premier League foe Manchester City (6-1-1), a team who has been on a roll as of late in the Champions League — they dominated Schalke 04 by a 10-2 score in aggregate in the Round of 16, and have won six out of their eight matches in the Champions League.
Comparing the two clubs and starting with home/away records, Tottenham Hotspur comes into this home match with a 3-0-1 record, however, Manchester City counters it with an undefeated 3-1-0 record on the road. On the statistical side, the Citizens have a +13 advantage with a total of 26 goals that leads the Champions League, while the Spurs sit with 13 which is 10th in the Champions League. In ball movement, Manchester City once again leads the Champions League with 18 assists. On the defensive side, the Citizens have the upper advantage in this category as well allowing 8 goals, that’s +2 over Tottenham’s 10.
With the way Manchester City has been rolling throughout the Champions League, and with the Citizens having all of the statistical advantages, how can you not roll with City for the win? And also keep in mind: In their only meeting of the 2018-19 campaign, Manchester City would take the 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur. Take City in a tight one, but don’t be surprised to see the Citizens have a strong advantage in possession time.
ANALYSIS: After a 0-0 draw in Leg 1 of the Round of 16 against Bayern, Liverpool (4-1-3) would then take care of business on the road with a 3-1 win to send them to the Quarter-final. Not a blow away performance, but convincing. For Porto (6-1-1), they would be in an absolute aggregate dogfight against Roma. In Leg 1, Roma would steal the 2-1 win at their homeground, but Porto would rebound, and would do so nicely in Leg 2. They would steamroll at their home stadium with a 3-1 win, and would steal the aggregate win by a slim 4-3 margin. Needless to say, neither club had a dominating Round of 16. However, it should be noted that Porto has been lights out for the most part in the tournament with a 6-1-1 record.
Liverpool comes with the homeground advantage, where they’ve been solid in the Champions League posting a 3-1-0 record. For Porto, they don’t have a flashy record on the road, but it is productive at 2-1-1. Offensively, the Dragons are ranked fourth in the tournament with a potent 19 goals in the campaign — a +7 edge over Liverpool’s 12. In ball movement, Porto has also done an excellent job ranked third with 13 goals, which is another advantage over the Reds — this time +3 over Liverpool’s 9 assists. In goals conceded, both clubs are nearly identical, however, the Reds do have the tight +1 advantage at 8 goals allowed — Porto sits with 9.
The Reds come into this matchup as a heavy favorite, but as you see, the Dragons have been putting up more quality performances throughout the tournament. I’ll still side with Liverpool for the win due to their dominance this season in the English Premier League, but I think the match will be much closer than what the experts are saying.
ANALYSIS: It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for Juventus (5-0-3) in the Champions League, but they’ve got the job done just enough and have advanced to the Quarter-final as a result — this after having to pull some magic to get a 3-2 aggregate win in the Round of 16. They would lose their first match on the road, 2-0, to Atletico Madrid, but would pull the advancing victory in a 3-0 win back home in Italy. Their next opponent: Ajax (4-3-1) from Amsterdam, Netherlands — a club who went through a whirlwind with power brand Real Madrid. They would suffer a 2-1 defeat at home in the Netherlands in the Round of 16 Leg 1, but would pull a crazy upset on the road over the Whites with a 4-1 win. A high-scoring 5-3 aggregate victory would send them to the Quarter-final.
Ajax has the home ground advantage in Leg 1 against Juventus, but there should be some concern for the Sons of the Gods coming in with Cristiano Ronaldo and company — they only have a 2-1-1 record at home. But there’s a bright spot: Juventus is .500 on the road, sitting with an away record of 2-0-2. Offensively, Ajax has a +4 advantage over Juventus with 16 goals punched in, The Old Lady sits with 12. In moving the ball, it’s once again the Jews holding the edge with 11 assists — that’s a +3 advantage over Juventus’ 8. Defensively, the advantage flips, however. Juventus comes in with just six goals allowed in the Champions League, which ranks in the top five of the tournament. Ajax sits two behind with 8.
Expect full-out combat in this one between two teams, this match will certainly be a close one that goes down to the last minute. But with Juventus having Cristiano Ronaldo, and with that factor alone, it’s nearly impossible to bet against the The Old Lady, and I wouldn’t. Despite being on the road, take Juventus for the narrow victory. And honestly, don’t be shocked to see a draw — Ajax will hold their own. But after all, like previously mentioned, The Girlfriend of Italy has Ronaldo. You can’t bet against that, you can’t bet against the defending champion. (Ronaldo won last year’s Champions League with Real Madrid.)
ANALYSIS: To put it simple, this is a sexy matchup between two power brands of Manchester United (4-1-3) and Barcelona (5-3-0). For the Red Devils, they would have the fight of their lives against Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16. In Leg 1, Man United would go down in shutout fashion losing 2-0 to the Parisians, but they would recover with a cool 3-1 victory in Leg 2 to tie them 3-3 in the aggregate. Due to having more away goals, the Devils would advance to the Champions League Quarter-final. In the Round of 16, Barcelona would face off against French power Lyon, and Leg 1 would end with no action in a 0-0 draw, but Barcelona would come out on their home ground in Leg 2 and completely annihilate Lyon by a 5-1 score to advance to the Quarter-final.
Here’s some bad news for Manchester United fans: The Red Devils are 1-1-2 at home, and Man United is in England this week. Here’s some positive news for Barcelona fans: The Supporters are a solid 2-2-0 on the road. In the offensive category, Barcelona sits third in the Champions League with 19 goals scored, a +9 advantage over Manchester United’s 10. In the assist market, the Supporters are second in the tournament with 16 assists — which is an incredible +12 edge over Manchester United’s 4. In the defensive category, the numbers are similar with Barcelona having the tight advantage at +1 with 6 goals conceded, while the Red Devils sit at 7.
Manchester United has been on a magic streak as of late, but it’s almost nearly impossible for me to see them hold up against a power Barcelona club. The Red Devils will put up a fight in Leg 1, but their struggles at home will continue. Take Barcelona in a close one.