Quarter Final Analysis and Predictions – Champions League


Intro: After a month-long wait, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League finally returned with the quarterfinal round. The first legs took place on April 9th and 10th, providing just six goals. No game had more than two goals scored, foreshadowing how tight this year’s contest will be. Of the remaining eight teams, four are from England, while Spain, Portugal, Italy, and the Netherlands each present one team. As it stands, Liverpool, Juventus, Tottenham Hotspur, and Barcelona will be headed to the semi-finals.


Liverpool 2 – 0 FC Porto

Liverpool came into this game with momentum. Star player Mohamed Salah had just broken an eight-game goalless streak, captain Jordan Henderson starred in their comeback against Southampton in an attacking role, and Guinean midfielder Naby Keita had just scored his first goal for the Reds. Porto, similarly, was in a strong patch of form leading up to the encounter, not having lost for six consecutive games.

Despite both teams’ recent successes, Liverpool was too much for Porto to handle in this matchup. Henderson and Keita starred in the midfield, with the latter scoring once.. Constantly threatening the backline, Roberto Firmino managed a goal and an assist, making him the second-highest goal contributor in the Champions League this season. The match could have ended 3-0 if Salah had not missed a golden opportunity to effectively put the tie out of Porto’s reach.

Porto had some decent goal-scoring opportunities throughout the match, with Malian striker Moussa Marega at the end of most of them, but the Portuguese side was not clinical enough. Porto’s wastefulness was also a result of Liverpool’s organized defense, with Virgil Van Dijk playing an integral role at center back. In the end, Liverpool held onto their lead with 65% possession and twice as many passes as Porto.


Man of the Match: Roberto Firmino


Tottenham Hotspur 1 – 0 Manchester City

Many thought that this match was going to be a smooth ride for Manchester City. However, Tottenham Hotspur has proven its doubters wrong. In Spurs’ first ever Champions League match at its new home ground, an assured display of skill handed the North London side an important first-leg advantage. Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino outclassed Pep Guardiola’s side. Spurs lined up in a 4-2-3-1, which transitioned into a medium block 4-4-2 on defense. City lined in a fluid 4-3-3, which transitioned to a 4-2-3-1 on offense. Fernandinho and Gundogan played as a double pivot, while David Silva played as the creative #10 between the lines. Pochettino’s tactics forced City to the wings, where Spurs’ dominant backline outnumbered City’s wingers and regained possession.

In the thirteenth minute, Manchester City was controversially awarded a penalty after a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) consultation for an accidental handball after a slide tackle by left-back Danny Rose to block Raheem Sterling’s shot. Jeers rang around Tottenham’s new stadium, but quickly turned to cheers as Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saved Sergio Aguero’s spot kick. With the save, the momentum of the game shifted; Spurs gained confidence and pressed City’s centre-backs with more intensity.

The next major event came in the fifty-fifth minute, when Tottenham striker Harry Kane came off the field injured, after diving into a tackle on fellow Englishman Fabian Delph.

The deadlock was broken in the seventy-eighth minute when Korean superstar Heung-Min Son of Tottenham scored after recovering from a poor first touch. Initially, City players believed the ball had gone past the endline, but VAR images showed that Son had kept the ball in.

The draw ended 1-0, with a below-average performance from City and a defensively solid one from Spurs. This could be a sign that City’s crowded schedule is starting to wear them down.


Man of the Match: Hugo Lloris


Ajax 1 – 1 Juventus

This result was largely similar to the first leg of Ajax vs. Real Madrid, as Ajax put in another stellar performance, but did not get the result they deserved.

In the forty-fifth minute, against the run of play, Cristiano Ronaldo capitalized on some uncharacteristically poor Ajax defending to score his 125th Champions League goal, despite being inactive for the majority of the game. Young Brazilian David Neres then pounced on a mistake from Joao Cancelo just after the restart of the second half to bring Ajax level. Frenkie de Jong and Hakim Ziyech were standout performers in Ajax’s dominant performance, with de Jong an energetic link between the defense and midfield and Ziyech constantly creating goal-scoring chances.

The game ended with Ajax compiling 19 shots with 6 on target, compared to Juventus’s 7 shots, with Ronaldo’s headed goal their only shot on target. In addition, Ajax had 69% of possession due to their effective high press and accurate passing. Ajax failed to make effective use of their chances, however, as the Juventus defense was compact and Ajax missed several their scoring opportunities. Overall, Ajax should be proud of their performance; it is unfortunate that they will come into the second leg with a slight disadvantage, as Juventus scored an away goal in the first fixture.


Man of the Match: Frenkie de Jong


Manchester United 0 – 1 FC Barcelona

Barcelona was dominant in the opening minutes of this match, with Manchester United mainly relying on counter-attacks. This strategy backfired completely, with Barcelona having over 80% possession and scoring in the twelfth minute, thanks to a header from Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, which deflected off of Luke Shaw’s shoulder for an own goal.  

The rest of the match was rather uneventful, with the only other decent scoring chance also coming from Barcelona. It would have been a goal were it not for United goalkeeper David de Gea’s excellent stop with his left foot to deny Philippe Coutinho. Barcelona almost scored again, with Lionel Messi shooting low from a free kick just outside the 18-yard box. However, a slight deflection caused de Gea to make another good reflex save.  

United provided a good performance overall, but Scott McTominay had an especially outstanding match.  He played an integral role in the midfield while largely stifling Barcelona’s attacking play. Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku were underwhelming, however, as was the rest of the attack, as United ended the match with no shots on target.  United will look to improve at Camp Nou, but it will likely prove to be a difficult task.


Man of the Match: Scott McTominay



Intro: The UEFA Champions League is largely unpredictable, due to the quality of the teams competing. Classics such as Barcelona 6 – 1 PSG, A.C. Milan 3 – 3 Liverpool, are all legendary games from this competition. Will the second leg provide more upsets or more expected results?


Juventus vs. Ajax

Michael: Ajax dominated throughout the first leg, easily weaving through a Juventus side that is known for its defense. I’m giving the young, hungry side a hard-fought win. 0-1.

Sander: This matchup could still go either way. Juventus are famous for their grit and defensive tenacity and will make the second leg in Turin very hard for Ajax. However, Ajax was the dominant force in Amsterdam, playing a sparkling brand of attacking football that would make the late Johan Cruyff proud. My money’s on the young guns to pull off another remarkable away victory. 1-3.

Victoria: It might be a bit early, but I think Ajax could be the Croatia of the Champions League this season.  They caught Italian giants Juventus off-guard in an impressive first-leg performance and could definitely come back in the second leg.  After all, they did so against the holders Real Madrid, so why not Juve? Yes, Real Madrid was out of form, but this Ajax team is young and motivated, which I believe will carry them into the semi-finals. 1-2.


FC Barcelona vs. Manchester United

Michael: You can stop Barca once, but you can’t stop them twice. United’s luck has run out; I’m predicting a commanding win for Barcelona at home. 4-0.

Sander: Despite the recent rejuvenation with the arrival of new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United never really threatened to score at home, and will undoubtedly find the task even harder in Catalonia. Barca was in second gear for much of the first leg, but that should be a very different story in front of their home fans at the Camp Nou. 3-0.

Victoria: With Barcelona’s incredible home form in the Champions League and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s magic starting to fade, I think Manchester United’s experience will be similar to Lyon’s: a close home game, and a large defeat at the Camp Nou.  In addition, Barcelona has Ousmane Dembele back from injury, which will only be more bad news for Manchester United. 3-0.


Porto vs. Liverpool

Michael: During the first leg, Mo Salah ran circles around prospective Real Madrid talent Eder Militao. While talented, Militao will not be able to keep the Egyptian and his teammates from producing a victory similar to their win from a year ago. 1-2.

Sander: Porto should come into the game highly motivated by their noisy home fans at the Estadio do Dragao. Several key players will return from suspension, which may see them put up a fiery second-leg display against Liverpool. However, the Reds won’t be too troubled and should progress quite easily on aggregate. 1-1.

Victoria: Even with some key players returning from suspension, I cannot see Porto upsetting Liverpool. Their defense is impenetrable and Liverpool’s attack will be even more threatening with the return of Andrew Robertson, who was suspended during the first leg. Many of Liverpool’s players are in good form as well, which will be even more of a concern to Porto, who were average at Anfield. 0-2.


Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Michael: Magical Mauricio will produce another tactical masterclass at the Etihad; Spurs to advance. 0-1.

Sander: City always finds a way to bottle it in Europe’s most prestigious competition. With that being said, however, Pep Guardiola’s side has a mouthwateringly star-studded squad, and remain the on-paper favorites to advance from this fixture on sheer attacking talent alone. 3-1.

Victoria: Manchester City was heavily favored to advance originally, but the players put in a lackluster performance away from home and lost 1-0. Spurs’ win came at a price, however, with Harry Kane out for the rest of the season. Despite losing their talismanic striker, Spurs can still manage a draw. It will be impossible not to concede to City at the Etihad, but I think Spurs will manage to get a vital away goal. 1-1.