UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final Tips and Predictions

Manchester City (PA Images)

Can Manchester United stage a repeat of their sensational Paris fightback to knock out Barcelona? Will Liverpool complete the job against Porto? And can Tottenham complete the job to destroy Manchester City’s European dream for another season? 

Barcelona v Manchester United

Manchester United shocked all of European football when they overcame a two-goal deficit against Paris St Germain in the last-16, running out 3-1 winners in the French capital to secure a victory via the away goals rule. They must now stage an even bigger shock if they want to book their place in the final four of the Champions League – they must win in Barcelona! The Catalan giants underperformed and needed a Luke Shaw own goal to leave Old Trafford with the smallest of leads, but they left with a lead nonetheless and they have to be considered to be in pole position for this tie as they get set to host the Red Devils at the Camp Nou. But can Barcelona avoid the same fate suffered by PSG a few weeks ago? United’s recent form suggests that is highly unlikely. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have lost four of their last six games in all competitions and their two victories in that time – 2-1 successes against Watford and West Ham United – hardly came courtesy of impressive performances. United appear to be experiencing their first dip under the Norwegian and it is very hard to see them turning it around here. Barcelona were held to a surprise goalless draw at Huesca this past weekend, but manager Ernesto Valverde rested a host of star names for that clash with one eye on this match with Manchester United. I expect it to be a decision that pays off in the form of a comfortable victory for the La Liga icons on Tuesday night.

Juventus v Ajax

Juventus were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw in the first leg of this last-16 tie with Ajax, and although that could not be considered an excellent result the Italian giants were able to head home with an away goal. And as we have seen already in this season’s Champions League, it could be vital. But as underwhelming as that result was, worse was to come this past weekend as they fell to a dreadful 2-1 defeat at SPAL, blowing an early lead as their hosts struck back with two goals after the break. Nobody at the club will be panicking though – they are still the elite team in Italian football and they are still a contender for European glory too. Juventus have been outstanding at home all season long with a Champions League group stage defeat to Manchester United the only real blemish on their record, so I expect Cristiano Ronaldo & Co. to make home advantage count in order to win this game. I also expect them to keep a clean sheet – very few clubs have visited Turin and scored this season.

Manchester City v Tottenham

Manchester City’s quadruple quest took a hit last week as they fell to a surprise first-leg defeat at Tottenham. City had been expected to return home with one foot in the semi-finals and they looked set for an early lead when the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Sergio Aguero saw his spot-kick saved and he and his team-mates were ultimately punished 12 minutes from time when Heung-Min Son kept the ball in play, cut back into the box and slammed a shot beyond Ederson to send the Spurs fans into raptures and ensure the club won its first ever Champions League game at the new stadium. However, it is really only 1-0 at half-time in this tie and Manchester City will be confident that they can turn things around at the Etihad Stadium. And who can blame them? City have been almost flawless at home in the Premier League this season, winning 16 of their 17 games while out-scoring the opposition 55-12, and in this competition their only disappointment at home was the shock loss to Lyon on opening night. They have since rebounded in spectacular fashion, with a 6-0 demolition of Shakhtar Donetsk and 7-1 destruction of Schalke being the biggest highlights, and if you want to look at previous meetings between City and Spurs for guidance you will see more evidence supporting a win for the hosts. They ran out 1-0 winners when the two clubs met at Wembley Stadium last October and in the two meetings in 2017/18 City won both matches by an aggregate score of 7-2. Spurs have not managed a victory at the Etihad Stadium for over three years and they are without talisman Harry Kane for this one, so I am confident that Pep Guardiola’s boys will book their place in the semi-finals by getting the job done in 90 minutes.

Porto v Liverpool

Liverpool took control of this two-legged quarter-final tie with a convincing 2-0 victory over Porto at Anfield, but in truth they should have scored more and been out of sight by the time the two clubs lock horns again on Wednesday night. So will Liverpool be made to pay for not putting this tie to bed in front of The Kop or can they complete their mission by getting the result they need in Portugal? While they were clearly the better team in the first leg it should not be ignored that Porto did have chances to snatch what could have been a huge away goal for them, and that suggests they should be able to fashion more chances back on their home soil. But the simple fact is Liverpool are the better team and they have been in excellent form in recent weeks. Their away record in this competition does not make for great reading at first glance, but they did record a stunning 3-1 win at Bayern Munich in the previous round and the German giants had gone into that match in blistering form. That victory at the Allianz Arena may well have turned around their away form in Europe and it is part of a seven-match unbeaten run away from home in all competitions. Jurgen Klopp’s side go into this match having won each of their last three away from Anfield, so you have to believe that they are more than capable of wrapping up a place in the final four with a victory at Porto on Wednesday night. Therefore I am backing the Reds for the win here and I also expect we will see a couple of goals at least. Over 1.5 Total Goals has been a winning bet on 34 of their 44 competitive games so far this season and it is has been a winner on three of their four European away games.

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UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final Tips and Predictions

Can Manchester United stage a repeat of their sensational Paris fightback to knock out Barcelona? Will Liverpool complete the job against Porto? And can Tottenham complete the job to destroy Manchester City’s European dream for another season?

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