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UEFA Champions League Preview – (Quarter-finals)

It is the game of champions; it is the UEFA Champions League. Who doesn’t love the UCL anthem? We are all intrigued and excited as the Champions League enters its business end with only eight clubs left in the hat competing for the Europe’s premier club competition. For the first time since 2015, we are going to have a new winner which isn’t Real Madrid. Manchester City will hope to end an unhappy record in all-English UEFA club ties when they face Tottenham Hotspur. Can Liverpool make it to the last four against an opposition (Porto) they decimated last season in the Round of 16? Manchester United and Barcelona and have served us classic ties on European nights before; are we for another threat? It’s David – Ajax taking on another Goliath – Juventus for a place in the last four.

Here is our preview of the 1st leg of the quarter-finals.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR v MANCHESTER CITY – TUE. 09 APR 2019, 20.00HRS
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Tottenham Hotspur will host the first European game in their new stadium on Tuesday when visitors Manchester City hope for a new experience in the all-English UEFA Champions League quarter-final. Spurs had the weekend off, they were not involved in league or cup games so they should be well rested and fresh for this all important clash. City didn’t enjoy similar rest because of their involvement in the FA Cup; their quadruple dream is still intact having booked a place in another cup final. Spurs managed to scrap through the group stage but outclassed Borussia Dortmund in the Round of 16 while Manchester City annihilated Schalke 04 to secure a last eight place. Tottenham are not anywhere near their best form lately though they managed a victory in the first game at the new stadium and that should spur them against a probable weary Manchester City.

VERDICT – The tie will be the sixth at this stage of the competition between two Premier League clubs, and the second in a row for Manchester City who faced Liverpool at the same point 12 months ago. Spurs have lost their last three meetings against City; including back-to-back home league defeats at Wembley. However, Mauricio Pochettino’s team won their last two league matches at the old White Hart Lane. This is an intriguing game against two top sides in the Premier League and two excellent coaches. City have the psychological edge having not lost the last three but Spurs have the ability to turn this on its head in front of their fans. It’s likely to be a low scoring affair in this leg; under 3.5 goals.

LIVERPOOL v FC PORTO – TUE. 09 APR 2019, 20.00HRS
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Can Liverpool go one better this year as they target another final in 2019? The Reds were in supreme control in the Round of 16 tie last season when they faced Porto and will need to be avoid complacency when they meet each other this time. The Dragões will aim to correct the memories of last season when they visit Anfield on Tuesday night. Their domestic form is good; winning four of the last five including two victories away from home. Liverpool’s home form in the Champions League has been solid this season; winning three of four  with the only draw against Bayern Munich in the last round while Porto required home crowd and support to turn around their Round of 16 first leg deficit in Rome.

VERDICT – Porto’s Champions League campaign till date has been remarkable though it hasn’t hit the heights of Jose Mounrinho’s 2004 triumph. Liverpool will need a decent advantage to travel with to Porto. Their manager was hoping for another draw, Klopp said; we didn’t want Porto, to be honest. Prior to their defeat in Rome, Porto were undefeated in six games away from home and will hope to start another run at Anfield. This will definitely be different from last season but Liverpool still has the quality and should win at home.  

MANCHESTER UNITED v BARCELONA – WED. 10 APR 2019, 20.00HRS
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Something memorable happens when these two European giants clash and Wednesday night will be no different. Manchester United have had a full week to rest and prepare for this game while their rival faced Atletico Madrid in the top of the table clash in La Liga which would have taken a lot from the Catalans. The Red Devils cannot afford a slow or poor start like they did in the previous round against PSG when Barcelona come calling at Old Trafford. Barcelona will fancy themselves to go all the way with their eternal rival – Real Madrid out of the competition but need to conquer this English hurdle first. Ernesto Valverde’s team do not have an impressive away record in this competition, winning just two of their last eight – this is where improvement needs to come if they aim to lift the trophy they last won in 2015.

VERDICT – Manchester United won the last home and away tie against Barcelona in 2008 and will aim to continue on that path though they lost their last two meetings (2009 and 2011 finals). United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants this type of games but their current form of two wins and three defeats suggest otherwise. Barcelona are unbeaten in their 16 matches in all competitions and are heavy favorites heading into this tie. With Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez leading the line for Barca, United’s defense have to be at their very best to avoid a defeat.

AJAX AFC v JUVENTUS – WED. 10 APR 2019, 20.00HRS
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Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick helped Juventus overturned a 2-0 away loss with a 3-0 win in the Round of 16 tie against Atlético and he would be expected to lead the Bianconeri against giant killing Ajax who knocked out Real Madrid in the last round and forced Bayern Munich to two draws in the group phase. The Dutch giants have been the surprise team of the competition and are likely to adopt their fearless approach which has brought them this far. They produced a stunning performance at the Santiago Bernabeu to overturn a first leg home defeat and book their place in the last eight for the first time since 2002/03 season. Juventus continue to dominate the Italian league but the Holy Grail for the Old Lady is this competition. The Bianconeri last won this competition defeating then defending champions – Ajax.  

VERDICT – Fixtures like this are what makes the Champions League special. Juventus should have learnt from Real Madrid not to underestimate Ajax; the Italian champions haven’t lost on their last four visits to Amsterdam and are unbeaten in the last 10 against their host. However, they will be facing a group of young talented footballers who are daring. Both teams have similar form going into this game; 4W and 1L in in their last five domestic games. Juventus have lost their last two Champions League away matches and will hope it doesn’t become three. Expect an intense game with goals.

This wraps us our Quarter-finals preview. You can win big by predicting in the money spinning competition by visiting our Sports shop Babaijebu.ng for mouthwatering offers for all these UCL matches.

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