Champions League Quarter-Final Second-Leg Previews

As we head into part two of the quarter-finals of the Champions League, all four ties remain finely balanced. It promises to be a dramatic 48 hours in Europe’s premier club competition.

MANCHESTER CITY IN THE BOX SEAT AGAINST PSG

Manchester City will start as slight favourites going into their second-leg tie against Paris Saint-Germain. A 2-2 draw last week at the Parc des Princes has now heaped pressure on the club from the French capital, but they remain optimistic that they can progress to last-four of the competition for the first time since 1995. The Premier League side are currently in unchartered waters, having reached this stage of the competition for the first time in their history. PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was annoyed by his club’s sloppy first-leg performance and vowed that there would not be a repeat in Manchester on Tuesday evening. Confidence has never been a problem for the big Swede and the man who now claims he would like to make a Rambo movie, is ready to go into battle at the Etihad Stadium. If you fancy him to draw “First Blood” for the visitors, the best football betting sites currently quote him at *5.00 to open the scoring.

 

MATCH BACKGROUND

Manchester City have won all six ties in UEFA competition in which they drew the away first leg and whilst this is their first Champions League quarter-final, their coach Manuel Pellegrini has been here twice before with Villarreal and Malaga. PSG have won three of their four away games in this season’s competition and of course, have experienced victory on English soil already having knocked Chelsea out in the round of the last 16. Laurent Blanc’s side has also scored at least two goals in their last five Champions League ties.

ETIHAD TEAM NEWS

The hosts go into the game without the services of captain Vincent Kompany, who is still not ready to return after his latest injury lay-off. England international Raheem Sterling is also unavailable as he too recovers from injury. Samir Nasri, a goalscorer at the weekend in the win against West Brom, has not been included in the Champions League squad; Yaya Toure, David Silva, Gael Clicy and Kevin De Bruyne are all set to return to the starting XI. David Luiz and Blaise Matuidi are both suspended for PSG and goalkeeper Kevin Trapp faces a race against time to be fit. Marco Verratti and Javier Pastore both remain side-lined.

PROBABLE STARTING XI’S

Manchester City (4-2-3-1) Hart; Clichy, Mangala, Otamendi, Sagna; Fernandinho, Fernando; Silva, Toure, Bruyne; Aguero

PSG (4-3-3) Trapp; Maxwell, Marquinhos, Silva, Aurier; Maria, Motta, Rabiot; Cavani, Ibrahimovic, Moura

*MATCH BETTING & PREDICTION

Manchester City 2.75 Draw 3.40 PSG 2.50

Expect there to be more goals on Tuesday as both defences remain under strength. It may come down to a straight shoot-out between Aguero and Ibrahimovic with the Argentine striker leading his Manchester City team to victory, 2-1 on the night 4-3 on aggregate.

REAL MADRID HOPES HANGING IN THE BALANCE

Real Madrid’s 2-0 defeat in Wolfsburg in their quarter-final first leg was undoubtedly the shock of the tournament so far this season. Now Zinedine Zidane’s side has to produce one of their best displays since he took over the managers job in December. With Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale now firing on all cylinders, it would be foolish to think that the Spanish giants cannot turn the tie around at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday. Last season they met German opposition in the last 16 of the competition; eventually overcoming Schalke 04 in a 4-3 thriller in the Spanish capital. A result similar to that will see them exit the competition this time around, but after their superb win in El Clasico and last weekend’s 4-0 destruction of Eibar, it promises to be a night of high drama at the famous old stadium.

*MATCH BETTING AND PREDICTION

Real Madrid 1.20 Draw 6.50 Wolfsburg 11.00

Whilst Real will start as hot favourites to win on the night, Wolfsburg will be confident they can score in Spain. Everyone knows that if CR7 is in the mood, he could single-handedly carry his team into the last four. The first goal of the night is the key; if Los Blancos score early, they will go on to win the game emphatically 4-1.

BARCELONA PUT THEIR TROPHY DEFENCE ON THE LINE AGAINST ATLETICO MADRID

Barcelona’s season is starting to disintegrate; defeat in El Clasico followed by a less than convincing 2-1 win against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final first leg, was followed by another defeat on Saturday at Real Sociedad. Luis Enrique’s invincibles now look fragile and a trip to the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday is the last place in the world they would want to go next. The Catalan giants were eliminated by the same opposition two years ago and whilst the betting exchanges still make them slight favourites to progress, Atletico Madrid will realise they have a great opportunity to eliminate the current holders.

 

MATCH BACKGROUND

Atletico Madrid has hosted Barcelona 109 times before in all competitions, with a record of 50 home wins, 36 Barcelona victories and 23 draws. Diego Simeone’s side has only lost two of their last 28 European home ties. Barcelona’s record against Spanish opposition in Europe is not great; in two-legged ties against fellow Liga sides they’ve won four and lost six. One statistic that does go in their favour however, is their record in defending first-leg leads; Barcelona have won 38 of the 40 UEFA competition ties in which they won the opening leg at home.

VICENTE CALDERON TEAM NEWS

Striker Fernando Torres is suspended after his red card at the Camp Nou last week, 21-year-old Argentine Angel Correa is likely to deputise for him. Apart from that, both teams are likely to line-up in the same way as they did in last week’s first-leg. Lionel Messi is just one goal away from his 500th career strike.

PROBABLE STARTING XI’S

Atletico Madrid (4-4-2) Oblak; Luis, Godin, Gimenez, Juanfran; Niguez, Fernandez, Gabi, Koke; Correa, Griezmann

Barcelona (4-3-3) ter Stegen; Alba, Pique, Mascherano, Alves; Iniesta,Busquets, Rakitic; Neymar, Suarez, Messi

*MATCH BETTING & PREDICTION

Atletico Madrid 3.30 Draw 3.30 Barcelona 2.20

Just like in Manchester on Tuesday, the first goal here will also be vitally important. If the hosts go in front, their excellent defensive record will make it difficult for Barcelona to get back into the contest. If the visitors strike first, the game will open up and this will favour Enrique’s men; let’s go for a 2-2 draw here.

BAYERN MUNICH FACE A STRONG EXAMINATION IN LISBON

Bayern Munich takes a slender 1-0 lead to Portugal on Wednesday as they get set to face a hostile welcome at the Estadio do Sport in Lisbon. Benfica have won 20 of their last 22 games in all competitions and will have no fear ahead of the second-leg encounter.

 

The Portuguese side are looking to reach their first Champions League semi-final since 1990, whilst Bayern will feel confident in reaching their fifth consecutive last- four berth. However, Pep Guardiola’s side have won only two of their last eight UEFA Champions League away games, losing four. The Lisbon club have won three of their four home games in this season’s competition.

*MATCH BETTING & PREDICTION

Benfica 5.00 Draw 3.60 Bayern Munich 1.66

It’s yet another match where the opening goal will set the tone. Bayern Munich have the big game experience, Benfica will have 70,000 fanatical fans behind them. Another tight contest should be guaranteed here, a 1-1 score line on the night, ensuring the German’s head into the last four.

*odds courtesy of Paddy Power

Steve Mitchell

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