Heavyweight showdowns as the UEFA Champions League Round of 8 approaches…
Who will win…
The UEFA Champions League, arguably the most important Club competition in the world, is reaching its climax as the quarter-finals are about to begin.
UEFA Champions League round of 8…Yes only 8 teams are left, Most, if not all of these clubs have made headlines in the past few years. The competition is full of history and top players, which is sure to give football fans around the world, quite an exciting series of matches that we can all look forward to.
Juventus vs Barcelona (1st leg / April 11th / Turin, Italy)
This match that opens the next round in the tournament will surely be an exciting one; current Italian league leaders Juventus face European giants Barcelona. The clubs are meeting for the eighth time in history. The last match between them traces back to 2015, when Barcelona defeated the Juventus in Berlin, to win yet another UCL cup. The story might be different this time around though. Juventus hasn’t lost a game in their last five matches, while Barcelona has lost two, and appear to be the team in better form. With a solid four defender line headed by Chiellini and Bonucci, a midfield led by Sami Khedira and an attack formed by Mandzukic, Dybala, and Higuain, the bianconeri shows great balance between attack and defense using a 4-2-3-1 formation.
On the other hand, Barcelona will have to rely heavily on the talents of its “MSN”. Messi, Suarez and Neymar will have to take the lead of a team that appears to rely heavily on their offensive talent. Although their defense has some big names like Pique, Mascherano, and Jordi Alba, they haven’t been able to perform as expected. In the last round, they conceived four goals from PSG and were forced to rally back to win the leg. Their last game against Malaga also showed some very poor form on defense, where they allowed two goals to be scored and were not able to recover, resulting in 2-0 loss that puts them in a tough position to win the Spanish league.
Who might win?: It seems like Juventus has a clear advantage on this leg, they appear to be in better form and have shown to be a much more balanced team than the blaugrana.
Dortmund vs Monaco (1st leg /April 11th/ Dortmund Germany)
This match will surely be quite an interesting one as both teams offer many similarities; the main one being the overall age of their players. Both teams have the interesting fact that they are the youngest teams to be competing in the tournament. Eight of the players that lined up for Monaco in their leg against Manchester city are all 24 or under. Borussia Dortmund’s players average an age of 25. In their ranks, they have players like Christian Pulišić who is only 18 years old, Julian Weigl, who is 21, and 19-year-old Ousmane Dembélé. Monaco’s side has youngsters such as Kylian Mbappé (18), Fabinho (23). and Bernardo Silva (22). Monaco’s young 4-4-2 formation is led by striker Radamel Falcao, using speedy, fast, and effective counter attacks that have made them reach this round of the tournament. By contrast, Dortmund has a much more offensive approach, using a 3-5-2, they use the youth of their young players led by Aubameyang and Marco Reus to pressure opponents high up top and look for a quick build up to put the ball in the net.
Who might win?: Both teams have young players full of speed that will surely make this game electrifying. However, Dortmund appear to have more and bigger names with more experience on paper, and their offensive approach might give them an advantage on this game.
Atletico vs Leicester City (1st leg /April 12th/ Madrid, Spain)
Atletico and Leicester, two teams with a tradition of being the underdogs, that usually offer few goals, but tactical movements worthy of a master lesson in football, face off in the next round of the tournament. It is expected to be a match played to the limit with both teams more worried about defending and not leaving any open gaps or spaces that the opponent can take advantage of to score, than actual offensive plays. Their formations show that. Leicester uses a very conservative 4-4-1-1 relying on their star striker Jamie Vardy, and his ability to score on set pieces or after counter attacks. Atletico under Diego Simeone, uses a similar 4-5-1 formation, but with a more offensive approach, usually pressuring opponents at the top of the field. It will be interesting to see if Leicester can manage to defend against the likes of Griezmann, Torres, Koke, Filipe Luis, and even defender Diego Godin, who can go and head balls to the net on set pieces.
Who might win?: It seems like Atletico has a clear advantage over Leicester, mainly due to the big names and talent that it has on its team in contrast from the pool of players available to the English club. It will be difficult for Leicester to get out of this one.
Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich (1st leg/ April 12th / Munich, Germany)
Clash of the Titans is about to happen when legendary clubs Real Madrid and Bayern Munich face each other once more in another episode of this historical rivalry. This time the match has different a flavor, due to the fact that Zinedine Zidane will try to prove that the student has topped the teacher; he will go up against his former mentor Carletto Ancelotti. Because of this, both teams play very similarly, both using a 4-3-3 formation that only changes from the other depending on the situation the team is facing. Both teams rely on quick counter attacks, but Bayern Munich seems more comfortable having possession of the ball, while Real Madrid usually likes to use long passes and wing play as part of their arsenal during offensive play. It will be tough to pick a winner here. Both teams are full of world class players in each line to counter the other. Robbens speed will meet Marcelo’s’, Casemiro, Kroos, and Modric will face a tough battle for control of the midfield against Thiago, Vidal, and Xabi Alonso, and Bayern’s attacking firepower with Lewandowski and Ribery is equally matched against Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
Who might win?: In what is probably the closest, tightest leg in the UCL quarter finals, small details are what probably will make the difference between who goes on through to the next round and goes home. The fact that Ancelotti has considerably more experience than Zinedine Zidane, and that he knows his pupil and former team too well, makes Bayern Munich have a small but clear advantage in this series.
Which team will win the first leg? Please let us know, comment below