The Champions League draw has brought a titillating clash of titans with Solskjaer’s Manchester United facing Valverde’s Barcelona. This game will be the main event of the quarter finals.
Spurs have drawn Manchester City, a foe they rarely win against domestically. Juventus and the evergreen Ronaldo have a youthful Ajax team in their way, one which eliminated the title holders in great fashion. The final clash sees Klopp’s Liverpool handed a favorable tie against Porto, a team they decimated in Portugal 0-5 on the way to the final last year.
Here’s my take on the draw.
Manchester United v Barcelona
Barcelona are a team which have inflicted much misery on Manchester United in the past decade. The Blaugrana, led by Guardiola and spearheaded by Lionel Messi, beat Sir Alex Ferguson’s team in the Champions League final in 2009 and 2011.
However, United also have some good memories against the Spanish giants. One year before the first aforementioned final loss, they defeated Barcelona in the knockout stages, courtesy of a Paul Scholes screamer and went on to win the competition.
After their fantastic elimination of French champions PSG in the previous round, United will fancy having a go at the current Spanish champions. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has much experience in big Champions League nights, more dare I say than his counterpart at Barcelona, Ernesto Valverde.
With a revitalized United squad and an in-form Paul Pogba, United can cause an upset and take down Barcelona.
We want these games against the biggest clubs and the biggest teams. We had the final against them in 2009 and 2011 and the semi-final in 2008 when Scholesy scored, it’s these games our fans and this club crave. We are looking forward to this one. – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
If it were a one-off game like a final, I would say Barcelona has an advantage but in a two-legged tie, things are less certain. Lionel Messi as always will be the main man to watch but United have their own threats in Pogba, Rashford, Martial and Lukaku.
Prediction: An upset with Manchester United to go through narrowly.
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City
Spurs surprised Europe in the Round of 16 where they trounced Dortmund at home 3-0 and finished the job with a 0-1 victory in Germany. Manchester City also handled German opposition, albeit a weaker Schalke 04 team, with the tie finishing 10-2 on aggregate.
City can still do the quadruple this year. They have to negotiate a title race with Liverpool in England, while juggling an FA Cup run. Spurs on their side only have top four to play for. In terms of fixture congestion, Spurs have the advantage.
Prediction: Manchester City will prove too strong for Spurs. Comfortable qualification for Pep’s team.
Ajax v Juventus
Ajax’s young exciting team will experience the ultimate test as they face a world class defence and Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the World’s best player.
See also: Ronaldo’s Excellence in Numbers
The Dutch team capitalized on Madrid’s defensive frailty and lack of organization in the previous round. Juventus are well-know for exactly the opposite. The Chiellini-Bonucci defensive axis is currently the best in the Champions League.
It’s hard to see how Ajax gets through to the semi finals, even if they have surprised us so far, holding their own against Bayern Munich in the group stage and kicking holders Madrid out in the Round of 16.
Prediction: Juventus to qualify.
Liverpool v Porto
Last season’s finalists Liverpool will hope to go all the way this time around. Just like last year, Klopp has FC Porto in his way. The Portuguese outfit did not impress last season last time around, losing meekly 0-5 at home, with a drab 0-0 in the second leg.
Porto are ever present in the Champions League and usually reach the Round of 16 or quarter finals. Beyond that, they rarely fare well. Their last triumph in the competition was in 2004 when a young Jose Mourinho won the treble.
I expect all teams wanted to draw Porto secretly, to get an easier way into the semi finals and I don’t blame them.
Prediction: Easy one for LFC.
In this edition of the Champions League, the semi final games have also been drawn.
Tottenham or Man City vs. Ajax or Juventus
Man United or Barcelona vs. Liverpool or Porto
Two fiery encounters could be on the table for the semis: Manchester City v Juventus and Manchester United v Liverpool 🔥
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