Pep Guardiola and Manchester City must navigate a daunting path to the club’s first Champions League final after the quarter-final and semi-final draw pitted the Premier League leaders against Borussia Dortmund and the winners of the clash. between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.
With UEFA charting their way to the final in Istanbul by drawing the quarter-finals and semi-finals, the prospect of Liverpool repeating their 2005 Champions League triumph at Ataturk Stadium hinges on Jurgen Klopp’s side beating Real Madrid in the knockout stages, before facing the winners. of the Chelsea-Porto tie. Before winning the Champions League in 2005, Liverpool beat Chelsea in the semi-final with Luis García’s infamous “ghost goal”.
– UCL draw: Real Madrid vs. Liverpool, Bayern vs. PSG
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The draw also keeps the prospect of an all-English final alive, with a box office clash between Real and Bayern also possible.
With the route to Istanbul now clear, ESPN has attempted to predict how the final rounds will play out and who will meet in the final on May 29.
While Manchester City will be a huge favorite to progress over a Dortmund side that is out of the top four in the German Bundesliga, it could all go terribly wrong for Pep Guardiola’s team if it fails to nullify Erling Haaland’s threat.
The 20-year-old, whose father Alfie played for City between 2000-03, is an important target for Guardiola’s summer, but right now, he’s the biggest threat to City’s prospects of reaching the semi-finals. Haaland is the top scorer in this season’s competition with 10 goals and will not flinch against City, but Dortmund also have the offensive talent of former City youth Jadon Sancho to worry Guardiola and his players.
Dortmund’s weakness is at the rear, as they have conceded nine goals so far this season in the competition. Meanwhile, City have only allowed one goal in eight Champions League games – a goal in the 14th minute in City’s 3-1 win over Porto in October. But impressive as City has been, they haven’t faced a forward of Haaland’s quality during a smooth run to the quarters, making the draw less clear than it appears on paper.
City’s overall strength, with players like Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, should see them progress, but Haaland could turn the tie around.
Who qualifies? Manchester city
Julien Laurens feels that Dortmund’s quarter-finals against Manchester City are interesting for Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland.
Although Porto surprised Juventus in the last round to reach the quarter-finals, the two-time Champions League winners were the team the other seven clubs wanted to tie.
Coach Sergio Conceicao has built a tough and underrated squad at the Estadio do Dragao, with 38-year-old Pepe leading the defense outstandingly against Juve. Sergio Oliveira’s goal threat from midfield will worry Chelsea, but Thomas Tuchel’s side has been transformed since the German manager replaced Frank Lampard in January, going unbeaten in 13 games (all competitions). His impressive round of 16 victory against Atlético de Madrid also highlighted his appearance as a dangerous outsider in this season’s competition.
– Laurens: how Tuchel turned Chelsea around
Tuchel has organized Chelsea on defense and is also starting to bring out the best in Kai Havertz. Timo Werner is another player who is starting to play with Tuchel after fighting with Lampard.
While Porto have the ability and the coach to make life difficult for Chelsea and push them to the end, it is difficult to see beyond the English club.
Who qualifies? Chelsea
Julien Laurens explains why Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel will be delighted to face Porto in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
In a replay of last season’s final, which Bayern won in Lisbon, the two favorites for this year’s competition arguably face off once again.
Bayern have surpassed every other club this season with 24 goals in eight games so far, but Hansi Flick’s team has shown vulnerability in the Bundesliga by losing twice, to Borussia Monchengladbach and Eintracht Frankfurt, in 2021. PSG too has fought back to its usual winning form, with Mauricio Pochettino’s side in an unknown second place in Ligue 1 behind leader Lille. But Barcelona’s knockout of the knockout stages was a major psychological hurdle for PSG to overcome due to their previous weaknesses against Europe’s elite clubs, and facing Bayern again has come at a good time for the French team.
If Neymar can get back to top form in time after a long season with a thigh injury, he and Kylian Mbappé could bring down Bayern. But at the moment, Bayern seem more likely to emerge victorious in the closest of the four heats.
Who qualifies? Bayern Munich
Julien Laurens says it is difficult for PSG to be favorites to win, but that they will not face that problem against Bayern.
It is a repeat of the 1981 and 2018 Champions League finals, but also a clash between two teams that have struggled to get in shape this season. Mohamed Salah’s reunion with Sergio Ramos for the first time since the Liverpool forward was injured by the Madrid captain in the 2018 final will be a fascinating subplot for this tie, but the outcome is likely to be decided by which team he defends. better.
Liverpool’s defensive crisis caused by the long-term injuries of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez has destabilized Klopp’s team, while the absence of captain Jordan Henderson due to midfield injury has also impacted the results. However, Real have leaked goals throughout the season, with Zinedine Zidane’s side conceding 10 in eight Champions League games. Liverpool, despite their problems, have only let three goals into the competition this season.
The prospect of the playoffs being played in Real Alfredo Di Stefano’s small stadium at the club’s training ground, and the second leg at an empty Anfield, will also have an impact, because both sides can generally count on formidable support. local in the latter stages of the Champions League.
This is a draw between an aging Real and an injury-stricken Liverpool, but if Salah and Sadio Mane are fit, Liverpool will win.
Who qualifies? Liverpool
Bayern Munich vs. Man City: If the quarter-finals go as predicted, a clash between Bayern and City will ensue in the semi-finals, and City will once again land on the hardest possible path to the final.
Pep Guardiola spent three years at Bayern trying, and failing, to win the Champions League and it will be 10 years in May since he last guided a team to European glory, following Barcelona’s victory over Manchester United at Wembley in 2011. City, of course. They have never won the Champions League or reached the final and, despite the incredible success they have had at the Etihad since arriving in 2016, they are still waiting for glory in the most important competition.
In terms of quality of teams and squads, there is little gap between City and Bayern, although the German club’s Champions League pedigree gives them an advantage. They have been there and City have not, which matters in the final stages as City lack the psychological strength to beat an inferior Lyon team in last year’s quarter-finals.
The only area that could be decisive. With Sergio Aguero struggling to stay fit all season, City have been missing a reliable forward. Gabriel Jesús, simply has not been a replacement. Meanwhile, Bayern have Robert Lewandowski, and the reliability of the Polish international means that the reigning European champions are favorites to reach the final.
Who qualifies? Bayern Munich
Liverpool vs. Chelsea: This Premier League clash turned into a Champions League duel during the 2000s, with Liverpool defeating the London club twice in the semi-finals, in 2005 and 2007, before finally losing a third in 2008. This time around If Liverpool beat Real and Chelsea beat Porto, they could meet again at this stage for the fourth time.
Liverpool’s pedigree in the Champions League always counts in their favor, but this time around they won’t be able to rely on a loud and crowded Anfield due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chelsea won their last outing at Anfield in the Premier League earlier this month and Tuchel will believe he has the durability and confidence within his team to win again if they meet in the semi-finals.
Both teams have had their problems this season, but Chelsea have now found their form and look fresh and strong with their new manager. If they face Liverpool in the semi-finals, Chelsea will have the advantage of booking a rematch of their final 2012 victory against Bayern Munich.
Who qualifies? Chelsea