Pep Guardiola and Manchester Metropolis should navigate a frightening path to the membership’s first-ever Champions League ultimate after the draw for the quarterfinals and semifinals pitted the Premier League leaders towards Borussia Dortmund and the winners of the conflict between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.
With UEFA mapping out the highway to the ultimate in Istanbul by drawing each the quarters and semis, the prospect of Liverpool repeating their 2005 Champions League success on the Ataturk Stadium is determined by Jurgen Klopp’s crew overcoming Actual Madrid within the final eight, earlier than dealing with the winners of the Chelsea-Porto tie. Earlier than profitable the Champions League in 2005, Liverpool beat Chelsea within the semifinal with Luis Garcia’s notorious “ghost objective.”
The draw additionally retains alive the prospect of an all-English ultimate, with a field workplace conflict between Actual and Bayern additionally doable.
With the path to Istanbul now clear, ESPN has tried to foretell how the ultimate rounds will form up — and who will meet within the ultimate on Might 29.
Whereas Manchester Metropolis shall be robust favourites to progress over a Dortmund crew that is exterior the highest 4 within the German Bundesliga, it may all go horribly incorrect for Pep Guardiola’s crew in the event that they fail to nullify the specter of Erling Haaland.
The 20-year-old, whose father Alfie performed for Metropolis between 2000 and 2003, is a significant summer time goal for Guardiola, however proper now, he is the largest menace to Metropolis’s prospects of reaching the semis. Haaland is the highest scorer on this season’s competitors with 10 objectives and shall be unfazed by dealing with Metropolis, however Dortmund even have the attacking abilities of former Metropolis teenager Jadon Sancho to trigger concern for Guardiola and his gamers.
Dortmund’s weak point is on the again, as they’ve conceded 9 objectives to date this season within the competitors. Metropolis, in the meantime, have allowed only one objective in eight Champions League video games: a 14th-minute objective in Metropolis’s 3-1 win over Porto again in October. However as spectacular as Metropolis have been, they’ve not confronted a striker of Haaland’s high quality throughout a smooth run to the quarters, so the tie is much less clear-cut that it will appear on paper.
Who qualifies? Manchester Metropolis
Julien Laurens feels Dortmund’s quarterfinal vs. Manchester Metropolis is an attention-grabbing one for Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland.
Though Porto shocked Juventus within the final spherical to achieve the quarterfinals, the two-time Champions League winners had been the crew the seven different golf equipment wished to attract.
Coach Sergio Conceicao has constructed a tricky, underestimated aspect at Estadio do Dragao, with the 38-year-old Pepe marshalling the defence in excellent trend towards Juve. Sergio Oliveira‘s objective menace from midfield will fear Chelsea, however Thomas Tuchel’s crew have been remodeled for the reason that German coach changed Frank Lampard in January, going unbeaten in 13 video games (all competitions). Their spectacular round-of-16 win towards Atletico Madrid additionally highlighted their emergence as a harmful outsider on this season’s competitors.
– Laurens: How Tuchel turned Chelsea round
Tuchel has gotten Chelsea organised defensively, and he is beginning to get the most effective from Kai Havertz. Timo Werner is one other participant who’s starting to carry out beneath Tuchel after fighting Lampard.
Whereas Porto have the flexibility and the coach to make life robust for Chelsea and push all of them the best way, it’s tough to see past the English membership.
Who qualifies? Chelsea
Julien Laurens explains why Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel shall be ecstatic to be towards Porto within the Champions League quarter-finals.
A rerun of final season’s ultimate, which was received by Bayern in Lisbon, sees arguably the 2 favourites for this yr’s competitors go head-to-head as soon as once more.
Bayern have outscored each different membership this season, with 24 objectives in eight video games to date, however Hansi Flick’s crew have proven vulnerability within the Bundesliga by shedding twice — towards Borussia Monchengladbach and Eintracht Frankfurt — in 2021. PSG have additionally struggled for his or her ordinary profitable type, with Mauricio Pochettino’s crew in an unfamiliar second place in Ligue 1 behind leaders Lille. However the round-of-16 elimination of Barcelona was a significant psychological hurdle cleared by PSG as a consequence of their earlier frailties towards Europe’s elite golf equipment, and dealing with Bayern once more has come at a very good time for the French crew.
If Neymar can return to full health in time after a prolonged spell out with a thigh harm, he and Kylian Mbappe may convey Bayern down. However proper now, Bayern look probably to return out on high within the closest of the 4 ties.
Who qualifies? Bayern Munich
Julien Laurens says PSG battle when being favourites to win, however will not face that downside towards Bayern.
It is a repeat of the 1981 and 2018 Champions League finals but in addition a conflict between two sides which have struggled for type this season. Mohamed Salah‘s reunion with Sergio Ramos for the primary time for the reason that Liverpool ahead was injured by the Madrid captain within the 2018 ultimate shall be a captivating subplot to this tie, however the end result is prone to be determined by which crew defends greatest.
Liverpool’s defensive disaster brought on by the long-term accidents to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez has destabilised Klopp’s crew, whereas captain Jordan Henderson‘s harm absence in midfield has additionally affected outcomes. But Actual have leaked objectives all season, with Zinedine Zidane’s crew conceding 10 in eight Champions League video games. Liverpool, regardless of their issues, have let in solely three objectives within the competitors this season.
The prospect of the ties being performed at Actual’s tiny Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano stadium on the membership coaching floor, and the second-leg at an empty Anfield, will have an effect too, as a result of either side can often depend on formidable house help within the latter phases of the Champions League.
This can be a tie between an ageing Actual and an injury-hit Liverpool, but when Salah and Sadio Mane are on type, Liverpool will win.
Who qualifies? Liverpool
Bayern Munich vs. Man Metropolis: If the quarterfinals go as predicted, a Bayern vs. Metropolis conflict within the semis will occur, with Metropolis as soon as once more touchdown the hardest doable path to the ultimate.
Pep Guardiola spent three years at Bayern attempting, and failing, to win the Champions League, and it will likely be 10 years in Might since he final guided a crew to European glory, following Barcelona’s win towards Manchester United at Wembley in 2011. Metropolis, in fact, have by no means received the Champions League or reached the ultimate, and regardless of the unimaginable success he has delivered on the Etihad since arriving in 2016, they proceed to attend for glory within the largest competitors.
When it comes to the standard of groups and squads, there’s little hole between Metropolis and Bayern, though the German membership’s pedigree within the Champions League provides them the sting. They’ve been there and Metropolis have not, which issues within the ultimate phases, with Metropolis missing the psychological energy to beat an inferior Lyon crew in final yr’s quarterfinals.
The one space that might show decisive: With Sergio Aguero struggling for health all season, Metropolis have lacked a dependable striker. Gabriel Jesus, merely hasn’t measured up as a alternative. In the meantime, Bayern have Robert Lewandowski, and the Poland worldwide’s reliability signifies that the reigning European champions are favourites to achieve the ultimate.
Who qualifies? Bayern Munich
Liverpool vs. Chelsea: This Premier League conflict turned a Champions League grudge match throughout the 2000s, with Liverpool twice beating the London membership in semifinals, in 2005 and 2007, earlier than lastly shedding a 3rd in 2008. This time round, if Liverpool overcome Actual and Chelsea see off Porto, they may meet once more at this stage for a fourth time.
Liverpool’s Champions League pedigree all the time counts of their favour, however they will not have the ability to depend on a loud, packed Anfield this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chelsea received their final outing at Anfield within the Premier League earlier this month, and Tuchel will consider he has the sturdiness and confidence inside his crew to win once more in the event that they meet within the semifinals.
Each groups have had their struggles this season, however Chelsea have now discovered their type they usually look contemporary and robust beneath their new supervisor. In the event that they do meet Liverpool within the semis, Chelsea may have the sting to ebook a rematch of their 2012 ultimate win towards Bayern Munich.
Who qualifies? Chelsea