Champions League Quarter-Finals: The Eight Teams still Standing

The international break comes to a close this week, which means the Champions League is just around the corner. Eight teams remain as the quarter-final games kick off on April 9th, this time with an even more thrilling set of matchups that fans are sure to enjoy. 


The Round of 16 Recap:

During the round of 16, we saw some of the Top teams put on some top performances, while others narrowly escaped their matches with a win.

From Manchester City’s inevitable trampling of Copenhagen (6-2 agg.) to Bayern’s win against Lazio (3-1 agg.) and Barcelona’s victory over Napoli (4-2 agg.), these games were essentially one-sided matchups. Napoli and Lazio have been unable to find their stride this season and it showed during European competition, as Napoli has fallen from the top of the league last season to 7th, and Lazio from runners-up to 9th. Additionally, both Bayern and Barcelona were in similar situations: sitting second in their respective leagues matched against two Italian teams who’ve failed to replicate their same success from last season. And while Copenhagen was good enough to get through the group stage, facing off against last year’s victors Manchester City was a death sentence.

Additionally, PSG knocked out Real Sociedad in a resounding 4-1 series win, while Real Madrid knocked out RB Leipzig in a 2-1 series much closer than people expected. PSV lost to Dortmund despite the Dutch team being undefeated in Eredivisie this season, as Dortmund brought their A game for the second leg of the series to win 3-1 in the aggregate. 

The last time teams met in a penalty shoot-out in the Champions League was in the 2016 final between Real Madrid and Atletico, with Real Madrid emerging victorious, making the two penalty shoot-outs in this year’s Round of 16 that much more shocking.

Atletico v. Inter was a nail-biter, with Atletico tying up the aggregate (2-2) in the 87’ minute, eventually going on to win in penalties (3-2). Even the Arsenal v. Porto match was closer than expected, with another set of penalties which ended with Arsenal on top (4-2), sending the Gunners to their first Champions League Quarter-final in 14 years. 

Eight Teams remain and the matchups have fans buzzing about who’s coming out on top, so let’s take a look at the matchups for the Quarter-finals:


The Matchups 

Bayern v. Arsenal

Historically, Bayern are the favorites of this matchup, having won 7, drawn 2, and lost only 3 of their last 12 games against Arsenal. 

The last game between the two was in 2016/17, when Bayern knocked out Arsenal from the Round of 16, with a brutal aggregate score of 10-2. 

This time around, things are going to be a lot different, especially since there will be NO BAYERN MUNICH FANS at the Emirates. That’s correct, due to some overenthusiastic Bayern fans who chose to celebrate their 3-0 triumph over Lazio with fireworks, Bayern will be forced to play away without the support of their home fans. This will be a huge blow for Bayern Munich, as it could be a chance for Arsenal to pull ahead with a big lead in the aggregate before playing their second game at Bayern. 

The head-to-head matchups will be a big factor in who will win the quarter-final series. A few key players and matchups to look out for in this series: Can Ben White deal with Davies’ speed and size as a wing-back, especially during counter-attacks? Will Arsenal’s Zinchenko be able to contain an extremely technical Jamal Musiala? Will Harry Kane rise to the occasion and bury the series against his former rival club?

As for the predicted winner of the matchup, it’s difficult to say, as both teams have performed exceedingly well up to this season, but I’d have to go with Arsenal. Despite lacking in experience, Arsenal has a world-class defense which could prove difficult for attacking players Harry Kane and Leroy Sane. That’s not to discredit them, as dealing with the Bundesliga’s leading scoring and assisting players will be a massive challenge for Arsenal. 

Moreover, the final third is certainly where Arsenal will have the most trouble, as they continue to score against more defensive teams, with Porto being the most obvious example. On top of that, Bayerns defensive third has height and speed with guys like Alphonso Davies and De Ligt, combined with one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Manuel Neuer, in the net. 

Bayern’s offense is more than capable of scoring goals, so even with Arsenal’s defensive quality, the winner of this game is certainly resting on Arsenal’s ability to find goals in the final third.

Real Madrid v. Manchester City

The series between City and Real Madrid should be the closest matchup of the Quarter-finals. After the two faced each other last year, a draw during the first leg alluded to a much closer series than we ended up getting, as City would go on to win the second leg 4-0 at home. Over time, the two teams are almost even in head-to-head matchups, with City winning 4 games, Madrid winning 3, and three ending in draws. 

In their respective leagues, Madrid are eight points clear of first, while City lag one point behind first and second place. Both teams have had great seasons, with star-studded line-ups and quality on the bench, making them a difficult and undesirable opponent. Even so, it seems like Manchester City is favored here, despite a lot of similar qualities in the midfield and attacking areas.

Both teams have world-class offensive players, with players like Erling Haaland and Phil Foden leading City’s attacking third, and Vinicius Jr. and Jude Bellingham leading Madrid’s. The City’s quality in the midfield will be a big factor in the series, as they will have an advantage over Madrid with Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva. And while players like Tchouameni and Toni Kroos are both top midfielders, they’re going to need to perform at their best if they want to compete with the best. 

It’s important to note as well that City will be playing the typical Guardiola game, meaning meticulous positioning and timing in the midfield, supporting roles from defenders, and creating numerical advantages on attack. While this sort of attack isn’t new to Mardid, after the recent inconsistencies in their defense, such as Mendy’s lackluster performance in the second game against Leipzig, Madrid could find themselves on the back foot for a lot of the series. It will really depend on the resilience of Madrid’s defense under constant pressure, and whether Madrid’s offense can break through the opponent’s back four and capitalize on defensive errors. 

PSG v. Barcelona

While certainly an interesting match, it seems like PSG is the favorite to win this Quarter-final matchup against Barcelona. 

Barcelona has certainly looked good this season through most of their competition, currently 2nd in La Liga, and while things haven’t quite clicked as well as they have in the past, the team has still had some excellent performances. While most attention has been paid to the team’s 16-year-old striker, Lamine Yamal, the rest of the team is no less impressive, with Robert Lewandoski and Joao Felix on the attack, Ilkay Gundogan in the midfield, and Joao Cancelo in the back. However, the team’s quality has struggled in the defensive half, and since losing Sergio Busquets last summer, haven’t brought the same quality to the midfield as before.

On the other hand, PSG has had more success in both their domestic campaigns, currently first in Ligue 1, and in developing a team that’s focused more on the team rather than players individually. However, PSG’s success will most likely come down to the talent on the offensive end, especially surrounding Kylian Mbappe. Despite this being his last season before finally moving to Real Madrid, Mbappe has once again lived up to his reputation as one of the best strikers in the world. This season in Ligue 1 alone, he’s scored 24 goals out of 103 shots, and based on his shots-on-target, he scores 50% of the shots he takes on target, (24 goals of 48 shots on target).

With Mbappe at the head of PSG’s offensive line, and players like Warren Zaire-Emergy and Vitinha in the midfield, the team seems like a sure winner for the matchup. The difference between these teams comes down to PSG’s star striker, and Barcelona’s quality in the defensive midfield.

Dortmund v. Atletico Madrid

Atletico is definitely going to be the favorite going into this series, plain and simple. After knocking out Inter in the last round, Atletico showed their ability to not only perform against these world-class teams but deal with the pressure of going into the second game down 0-1 in the aggregate. On top of that players like Greizmann and Koke put on an incredible display of skill, while the team’s goalkeeper Oblak put on a dominating performance in both regular time and during the penalty shoot-out.

Dortmund was the surefire winner of the PSV game, they certainly deserved to win after their 2nd leg performance. However, the quality of a team like Atletico will be something different for Dortmund. Atletico has more consistent and dangerous strikers like Angel Correa, with a physical and high-quality defensive-third, and a quick and capable midfield. While Dortmund is certainly not a bad team, it’s clear that Atletico will come out as the winner in the end. 


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