The Champions League is returning and it’s bringing up the last 8 of the competition with some eye-catching clashes are coming your way this week. Juventus entertain Real Madrid in last year’s final re-match, all English affair at Anfield where Liverpool face in-form Manchester City, Barcelona will be looking to live up the expectations of being one of the competition’s favorites when they face Roma. Sevilla will continue dreaming big against Bayern Munich.
Juventus – Real Madrid
Only ten months ago Juventus and Real Madrid were playing the final in Cardiff. Now the two European giants go head-to-head again with a place in the semi-finals at stake. The Italian giants will want a sweet revenge on their opponents and the whole side is determined to get one over Real. Additional emotions will be added knowing that Gianluigi Buffon is approaching the end of his remarkable career and the UEFA Champions League is the one trophy missing in his hall of fame. The legendary keeper is playing his 14th campaign in Europe’s most prestigious tournament and will be looking to finally win it, after 3 lost finals. The game itself is going to match #20 between the two sides, as the 19th was in June on the mentioned final in Cardiff. Juventus, however, have won the sides’ last four two-legged knockout ties and were the last side to eliminate Madrid in the competition, beating them in the 2014/15 semi-finals. The home side is undefeated in 25 games in all competitions since November 2017. Miralem Pjanic and Mehdi Benatia will miss out due to suspensions, so Maximiliano Allegri will have to deal with their absence. Real is also enjoying fine away form recently with them being currently on a 14-match streak without a loss. Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance is going to be again crucial as he is once again the competition goal-scorer with 12 goals. Gareth Bale reminded about himself notching 2 goals over the weekend against Las Palmas. A possible problem for Zinedine Zidane is the risk of losing Sergio Ramos for the reverse fixture, as he is a booking away from a ban.
Sevilla – Bayern
Sevilla is willing to extend their dream for European glory against one of the most experienced sides in the competition – Bayern. There is a vast gulf in the quarter-final experience of the Spanish side and München, although the German side will know to take nothing for granted when they travel to Andalusia for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League tie. Bayern has never played Sevilla before but has been eliminated by Spanish opponents in the last four seasons. Furthermore, while the Munich club has lost their last five away games to Liga sides, Sevilla are unbeaten in their 11 home games against German clubs (W7 D4). The sides domestic form is completely different this season as Bayern have almost secured their Bundesliga title with the win against Dortmund over the weekend – 17 points clear with 6 games to be played. Meanwhile, Sevilla is not performing well in La Liga and apart from the UEFA Champions League, they will play Barcelona again in the Copa del Rey final at the Estadio Metropolitano, home of Atlético Madrid, on 21 April. Éver Banega is serving a one-match suspension; Sergio Escudero, Wissam Ben Yedder, and Gabriel Mercado are all a booking away from a ban.
Liverpool – Manchester City
Manchester City keeps improving season after season with their new regime, winning 3 times and being on course of doing it again this term. Liverpool has suffered long enough and Klopp will be desperate to end their trophy drought in England and claim the Premiership title but will have to wait for at least another season. This encounter is all about European glory and season form and past meetings will count for nothing. Anfield is no strange place for such big occasions and City’s time playing there will be very tough knowing that they lost 5 out of last 8 against Liverpool. Klopp and Guardiola are familiar with each other during their time in Borussia Dortmund and Bayern respectively. Since both of them moved to England both Anfield games were won by Liverpool and the Reds will be looking to extend this record. Securing a vital win and scoring many thanks to the incredible trio in attack will be crucial for Liverpool. From City’s point of view, an away goal is going to give them an edge over their opponents. Mohamed Salah has scored 16 goals in last 14 appearances for Liverpool, including a late winner at Crystal Palace over the weekend. On the opposite side, City’s win at Everton means that if they win their local derby game against city rivals Manchester United. Surely, this will give Guardiola’s side some confidence.
Barcelona – Roma
FC Barcelona is in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for a record 11th season in a row, and last-eight opponents AS Roma are familiar foes – although the Italian side is at this stage for the first time in a decade. The Italians are returning for the first time since 2015/2016 group stage where they lost heavily to Barcelona (6-1) as the Catalans star Leo Messi and Luis Suarez scoring both twice. Barca will be given a huge morale boost as they improved their unbeaten run in La Liga to 30 games, as they equalized late on to rescue a point against Sevilla. Anything apart from a classic win by the Spanish side might be considered as a surprise based on stats so far this season – they have scored in all but one of their 23 home games this season, drawing 0-0 at home to Getafe CF on 11 February, and have managed 65 goals at the Camp Nou. The Giallorossi will be sweating over the fitness of Radja Nainggolan as he suffered a thigh injury against Bologna and was forced off after only 17 minutes and Turkish young sensation Cengiz Ünder missed that game, also with a thigh problem. The cover which the men in the middle of the park from De Rossi, Strootmann and Nainggolan are going to be crucial if Roma wants to return home with a good result.
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