It’s the quarter-finals of the football UEFA Champions League and BetVictor Brand Ambassador Michael Owen can’t wait for the action to start. We caught up with Michael once again as he shares his thoughts on the matches, exclusively on the BetVictor blog.
PSG to win and both teams to score
Atalanta v PSG
With a UEFA ranking of 50, Atalanta may be the lowest ranked team left in the tournament but make no mistake, this Italian side could be a major threat to PSG’s hopes of progressing to the semi-finals.
They finished third in Serie A, setting a club record of 78 points and 23 victories. They also scored more goals than any other team in the division with a remarkable 98 goals in their 38 games.
After a decidedly dodgy start to their debut in the UEFA Champions League competition, they have really found their feet in recent times culminating in a resounding 8-4 aggregate victory against Valencia in their round of 16 tie.
PSG have been in scintillating form this season in the Champions League and only a 2-2 draw against Real Madrid in the Group stages prevented them boasting a 100% record going into the knockout stages. They also showed they are made of sterner stuff than in previous seasons and that was ably demonstrated when overturning a 2-1 first leg defeat to Borussia Dortmund in their round of 16 tie.
I fancy that this could be closer than many people think but with Kylian Mbappe likely to be fit for PSG and Josep Ilicic who has already scored five goals for Atalanta in this year’s competition, likely to miss out through injury, I fancy a 2-1 win for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
Both teams to score
RB Leipzig v Atletico Madrid
This is RB Leipzig’s first time in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages and they certainly won their round of sixteen clash with last year’s finalists Tottenham Hotspur in some style. They thumped Spurs 4-0 on aggregate to set up a quarter-final match against seasoned campaigners Atlético de Madrid at the Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon.
Leipzig finished third in the Bundesliga to qualify again for next season’s UEFA Champions League and that will be their third appearance in four seasons.
Unfortunately, they will be without the mightily impressive Tino Werner, who they sold to Chelsea in June and it remains to be seen how successful their attempts to replace him will be.
Atletico are into the quarter finals for the fifth time in the last seven seasons and they come into this match in great form. They will have been disappointed to have finished third in La Liga but a long way behind both Real Madrid and Barcelona. However, they are unbeaten since football resumed in Spain and in fact are now unbeaten in their last eighteen matches.
They put the reigning Champions League winners to the sword in their round of sixteen tie and will be full of confidence going into this quarter final clash.
One thing is for sure; Diego Simeone and his men have developed a never-say-die attitude and an uncanny knack of finding a way to win. I am going for a 2-1 victory for the Spanish side in this one.
Bayern Munich to win
Barcelona v Bayern Munich
On Friday, Bundesliga champions Bayern take on La Liga runners up Barcelona in the final quarter-final game stage. This is an absolutely massive game for two of world football’s true heavyweights.
Bayern, have been relentless in 2020 and, with a perfect record in the Champions League this season, will rightly be considered, along with Manchester City, as one of the favourites. They proved far too strong for Chelsea in the Round of 16 wining 7-1 on aggregate. However, Hans-Dieter and his men won’t be getting too carried away, as they will certainly know anything can happen in a straight knockout tournament.
In Robert Lewandowski, they have a goal-scoring talisman who may just prove to be the difference between the two sides. He has already scored 53 goals this season with 13 of them coming in the Champions League. This is just four short of Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 17 when playing for Real Madrid in 2013/14 and with potentially three more matches to come, he will certainly be aware of this particular record.
Barcelona beat Napoli 3-1 (4-2) on aggregate and whilst they certainly haven’t been at the best this year, you can never completely write them off. They have been determined, hard to beat and generally better in the Champions League than domestically. They finished in second place in La Liga but nobody associated with the Club will see that as a decent season and will be especially disappointed to have finished five points the Champions, Real Madrid.
This is a really tough game to call but I think Bayern are in better form and with Lewandowski in their ranks, I think the German side will progress to the semi-final with a 2-1 win.
Manchester City to win half-time full-time
Manchester City v Lyon
Rounding off the quarter final games in Portugal is Manchester City versus Lyon on Saturday.
Manchester City are the only remaining English team in the tournament and their victory over 13 times champions, Real Madrid in the last round, was their best and most accomplished victory in a Champions League knockout tie.
In a tournament that is all about peaking at the right time, the Sky Blues have never looked better although it is quite incredible that despite the huge sums that have been invested into the playing side of the Club over the last ten years, City have only reached the semi-finals on one previous occasion. That ended in defeat by Real Madrid back in 2015/16 season.
In this season’s quarter final clash they face a Lyon side who survived a Cristiano Ronaldo inspired comeback in the Round of 16 to eventually progress on away goals. Lyon played Manchester City in the Group stages of least season’s competition and earned a win and a draw across the two matches.
City will need to be aware of the threat of Memphis Depay who has now scored in each of his last six Champions League appearances.
However, Pep Guardiola knows from first-hand experience as both a player and a manager, just how difficult this competition is to win and their status as favourites is well deserved. City will never have a better chance to finally achieve the ultimate goal of their Abu Dhabi-based owners and I’m predicting a 3-1 win for Manchester City in this one.