Champions League Quarter-Finals – Everything Still to Play For
It’s taken far too long to get to this point. The thing about giving everyone a chance at winning something is that it takes a while to narrow the field down to the real contenders – you think it’s bad now, just wait until Michel Platini properly loses it and we’re left with a 48-nation Euro 2024.
There’s a lot of mucking around until anything serious happens in the Champions League, but after a few months of trips to previously unheard-of cities with impossible names, we’re finally left with eight teams. Seven of them can win the competition, and the other is Manchester United.
Bayern Munich – 2.52
Real Madrid – 3.85
FC Barcelona – 4.40
(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)
The good news for United is that they’re playing at home. The bad news is that it’s not 2009. The good news is that they’re playing at home in the Champions League, which they seem to like doing. The bad news is that they’re playing at home in the Champions League against Bayern Munich, so let’s give up.
I’m not sure how much I really need to tell you about this one – Bayern haven’t lost since December last year, and are up against a United side that most agree is the weakest still in the competition. David Moyes desperately needs his team to extract the digit and give him a hope of making it through the summer. “I suppose we will be underdogs in the draw,” he said following United’s 3-0 win over Olympiakos, “but I genuinely believe this club is capable of winning it,” but he doesn’t genuinely believe that, because it’s genuinely wrong.
With so much disbelief surrounding Manchester United’s current position, Bayern Munich come to Old Trafford offering the kind of reality check that you just can’t get from an unreal home loss to West Brom. And to think – if United had really chased Pep Guardiola back when he was there for the chasing, David Moyes would still be a respected manager.
Barcelona win – 1.50
Atlético win – 6.25
Draw – 4.25
(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)
Elsewhere, Barcelona play Atlético Madrid in a match that they should win because they’re Barcelona, but won’t necessarily win because Atlético Madrid are top of La Liga, and things are seemingly different now in Spain. Atlético haven’t won at the Camp Nou since Fernando Torres was scoring goals, but bring an in-form Spanish-Brazilian Chelsea-bound Diego Costa to Barcelona – he has scored six goals in his last five games.
Barcelona, meanwhile, have Lionel Messi, a good record against Atletico Madrid, and far more experience at this stage of the Champions League, which probably counts for something. They’re apparently in crisis, but given that they’re second in the league and favourites in a European quarter final, it’s the kind of crisis we’d all like to have.
Paris Saint-Germain v Chelsea
Elsewhere again, PSG, or Paris Saint Germain if I’m trying to reach a word count, take on Chelsea in a match that requires more serious analysis than I’m capable of, so I asked my Chelsea-supporting friend, Michael, for help. Michael says, “Chelsea will park the bus and if PSG are good enough, they will win. Chelsea are hard to score against but without Matić in midfield it will be easier for PSG.”
Look at how clever he is there. Michael is employing a classic Jose Mourinho strategy, condemning his side to defeat before it’s even happened so as to cover himself if they lose, while leaving it open for him to claim a heroic victory if they win. Chelsea are fresh from a loss away to Crystal Palace – a real skills festival in reverse – and PSG have Zlatan Ibrahimović. Michael doesn’t always walk his talk, but he’s probably right this time.
Betting Instinct tip – Paris Saint-Germain to emulate Crystal Palace with a 1-0 win is 5.90 with GR88.com
Real Madrid v Borussia Dortmund
Finally, Dortmund (or Ballspielverein Borussia 09 e.V. Dortmund if you’re cultured and drink wine and read books and speak languages), 23 points off the top of the Bundesliga and relatively unremarkable in the group stage will be the team to roll over for Real Madrid this week.
Ok, so copying, pasting and updating the same Real Madrid paragraph as last time might be cheating in some eyes, but it’s also a real time-saver, because Dortmund simply aren’t the same team that beat Madrid 4-1 in the semis of last season’s competition. In fact, they’re probably a bit more like the team that lost to Madrid 2-0 in the semis of last season’s competition, in the reverse leg of the same tie. Dortmund keep haemorrhaging players to Bayern Munich, and Madrid keep getting faster, stronger, and sometimes better – while it wouldn’t be outrageous for the Germans to go through over two legs, it would be a surprise for them to win at the Bernabeu.
Betting Instinct tip – Another 2-0 win for Real is 6.50 with Intertops.eu
MAX GRIEVE (maxjgri) is Australian, but keep reading. He likes football, rugby union and tennis, though has given up on his dream of being a tri-sport athlete/exciting millionaire. He supports Liverpool, and is ashamed for doing so.