Who Will Win The UEFA Champions League?
The first leg of the quarter-finals has been played, and the biggest competition in club football is rapidly progressing towards its final stages. One of eight great teams is about to lift the famous trophy, and the football world is holding its breath as it waits to find out which club can go all the way. There’s even an outside chance that we might have fans in the stadium at the final, which would be a welcome sight after twelve months of zero attendance in most parts of the world.
We already have a few clues as to who might come out on top in the quarter-finals, which offers us some insight into who’s heading to the next stage. Never assume that anything is over in football, though. Barcelona fans won’t need reminding of Liverpool’s legendary 4-0 win at Anfield on their way to the trophy in 2019, overturning Barcelona’s 3-0 first-leg victory in the process. Barcelona didn’t even make it to the final eight this time around, but Real Madrid still stands a chance of bringing the trophy home to Spain. It won’t be an easy task – but winning the Champions League never is!
This stage of the competition is a lucrative one for bookmakers as people either lump money on the favourites or speculate on unlikely comebacks in the hope of cashing in on long odds. It’s often said that you’d be safer betting on online slots than on football, and we sympathize with that standpoint. You might not be able to predict the outcome of a spin on the reels of a Rose Slots for Ireland slot, but who could have predicted that Liverpool comeback two years ago either? The English side might be the only club in world football that has its own official online slots game, but that incredible victory saw them overcome greater odds than the slot could ever offer! Will anyone upset the odds the same way this year, or is the route to the final already set in stone? Let’s take a look.
Bayern Munich vs Paris Saint Germain
Last season’s winners Bayern Munich have a mountain to climb if they’re going to hold on to their prize. They were the big favourites among gamblers before the competition started and looked dominant heading into their quarter-final showdown with the French champions but were beaten 3-2 at home. Shipping three away goals is every team’s worst nightmare and means that the Germans now have to win the return leg by at least two clear goals if they’re going to progress. To make the task even harder, they’re going to have to do it without talisman Robert Lewandowski. The Polish striker won’t have recovered from his injury in time for the second leg. Winning the Champions League has been PSG’s primary mission for the past decade, and if they don’t do it, they may struggle to hold on to Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. This could be a “now or never” moment for PSG, but they’re in the driving seat ahead of the second leg.
Porto vs Chelsea
On paper, this tie looks to be over already. Both legs are being played in Spain because of pandemic restrictions, but Chelsea was classed as playing away from home in the first leg and came out of the game with a 2-0 win courtesy of yet another impressive performance by Englishman Mason Mount. This was a perfect response from Chelsea after the shock of their 5-2 loss at home to West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League just a few days earlier. If Porto has a shred of hope, perhaps it’s the fact that their goals will also count as “away goals” in the second leg, and they’re closer to home in Spain than Chelsea are. It will take a titanic effort from here to see Porto progress, but they can’t be ruled out.
Manchester City vs Borussia Dortmund
This is the most finely-poised of all the quarter-final ties. Manchester City will head to Germany with a 2-1 lead from the first leg, but that away goal will worry the Blues and their coach Pep Guardiola. Getting an away goal of their own as early as possible will be high on their priority list for the second leg. This game could be seen as “the battle of Erling Haaland.” Everybody knows that City wants to sign the Norwegian, and everybody also knows that Dortmund doesn’t want to let him go. The money and allure of the Premier League team will probably win out, but Dortmund might have a stronger case if they’re able to put City to the sword. The general feeling among fans is that if City wins this tie, they’ll also win the whole competition. That may well prove to be correct.
Real Madrid vs Liverpool
Real Madrid fans have every reason to feel confident about this tie with a 3-1 lead from their home leg, but this is Liverpool we’re talking about. They beat Barcelona at Anfield, and they can beat Real Madrid, too. Not having fans, though, is crucial. A packed Anfield is an intimidating place for any team to go regardless of stature. An empty Anfield doesn’t have the same effect. Liverpool’s away goal means they’re still a threat, but an away goal from Real Madrid would all but end this tie as a contest. Madrid isn’t the team they were three or four years ago, but Liverpool’s struggles in the Premier League this season suggest that they’re not even the same team they were last year. Real Madrid should go through, but “should” doesn’t mean “will.”
If we follow the above ties along to their logical conclusions, it will give us PSG, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Real Madrid as semi-finalists. With all the quality they have at their disposal, Manchester City would surely be best placed to go on and win their first-ever Champions League trophy from there. We’ve seen enough shocks in the football world to know we should always expect the unexpected, though, and what kind of football romantic wouldn’t want to see Porto overcome the odds and shock the other teams? Even a Chelsea victory would count as one for the underdogs. Entertainment is guaranteed when these sides meet again, and we’re looking forward to it enormously.