Champions League Quarter-Finals Preview: Who will advance to the final four?

For all eight teams remaining in the Champions League, they will have their eyes on lifting the iconic trophy in Istanbul on the 29th May.

There are plenty of storylines within each quarter-final tie. In all four head-to-heads, there is Champions League history already written in each clash.

But who will advance through to the semi-finals?  

Manchester City vs Borussia Dortmund

When Manchester City faced Borussia Dortmund in the group stages of the 2012/13 Champions League, many predicted a well-match contest between the two sides.

Man City as a club under new ownership, were certainly in fruition having won the Premier League and knocking local rivals United from their perch the previous season. Some would have noted City as favourites to have gone all the way in that campaign with exceptional players including Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany in their ranks.

Borussia Dortmund’s rise was perhaps understated in comparison. The German side didn’t have the financial backing of City. Jurgen Klopp’s expertise in developing the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus and Mario Gotze had taken Dortmund to new heights. They even had Bayern Munich worried at the time having also gone into that season’s Champions League as domestic title winners.

Dortmund prevailed overall in the two encounters, the first finishing in a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium, the second they won 1-0 thanks to Julian Schieber’s winner. It saw Dortmund go through to the knockout stages, only to fall at the final hurdle in a 2-1 defeat to Bayern at Wembley. While City suffered a shock exit, finishing bottom of the group.

Now eight years later, City appear to be miles ahead of Dortmund. Pep Guardiola’s side are on the hunt for the quadruple, which would mean becoming European champions for the first time. They also have an unassailable 14-point lead at the top of the Premier League. If they do knockout Dortmund it would certainly open the prospect of bigger names being rested in the league, to keep them fresh for the semi-finals and possibly the final.

Dortmund on the other hand are struggling for consistency. Edin Terzic has somewhat steadied the ship after the departure of Lucien Favre. However, there appears to be uncertainty not just around the team but also the club. Terzic himself will be replaced by Borussia Monchengladbach manager Marco Rose at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, prolific striker Erling Haaland is a wanted man by Europe’s elite. A 2-1 home defeat to Eintract Frankfurt on Saturday also saw Dortmund fall seven points behind the chase to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

However, you still can’t write off any team in the last eight and there is experience in Dortmund’s ranks to surprise the favourites.


Real Madrid vs Liverpool

In the repeat of the 2018 Champions League final, the story building up to this tie had been about the rivalry between Sergio Ramos and Mohamed Salah. The Real Madrid captain injured Salah’s shoulder in a challenge during the final that saw the Egyptian substituted off in the first half.

The La Liga giants ended up winning the game in routine fashion, thanks largely to mistakes by Liverpool’s goalkeeper at the time Loris Karius and Gareth Bale’s spectacular overhead kick.

Since that 3-1 defeat, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have won the Champions League and Premier League titles, emerging once again as a European powerhouse. Whilst it has been a struggle for the Reds this season with an array of injuries, including Virgil van Dijk, there is still so much for the Merseysiders to play for.

A convincing 3-0 win at Arsenal was a statement of intent with Liverpool now firmly back in the top four mix in the Premier League. Of course, winning the Champions League this season will confirm their place in the tournament for 2022.

Going back to the Ramos-Salah duel, there won’t be another chapter written between those two for the time being. The former picked up a calf injury during the international break with Spain, ruling him out of the tie. An even bigger blow for Real was the news of Raphael Varane testing positive for coronavirus.

Liverpool, particularly the formidable front three of Salah, Mane and Firmino, will fancy their chances against Real with the world class centre-back partnership absent, most certainly for both legs.

However, you just can’t underestimate Real. Stars including Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos could still help them get over the line against the Premier League outfit.


Bayern Munich vs Paris Saint Germain

Bayern Munich erased PSG’s chances of lifting the club’s first Champions League honour in last season’s final thanks to Kingsley Coman’s winner

The two sides have gone different ways in terms of their progress in the current campaign. Hansi Flick continues to meet the high expectations placed on him as Bayern manager, with the club in their familiar top of the table position in the Bundesliga.

The world champions are also unbeaten in the Champions League this season, easing past Lazio 6-2 on aggregate in the round of 16. However, Bayern will be without their talisman Robert Lewandowski for both legs after the Poland international suffered a knee injury.

This is welcome news for PSG, who are still getting used to life under Mauricio Pochettino, who replaced Thomas Tuchel earlier this season.

The Parisans are in the unfamiliar position of being in close contention for the Ligue 1 title where they would normally be so far ahead or even had secured themselves as French champions at this stage in previous seasons.

Pochettino will be concerned with his side’s credentials as to whether they are ready to go all the way in the Champions League this season. A recent case study was on Saturday in a 1-0 home defeat against Lille with their opponents now three points clear at the top of the table. It was a match that also saw Neymar get sent off.

They can draw on the positives of comfortably defeating Barcelona 5-2 on aggregate in the round of 16. If Kylian Mbappe replicates the performances he showed against Barca in this upcoming tie against Bayern, anything can happen.


FC Porto vs Chelsea

FC Porto pulled off the greatest shock of this edition’s Champions League in knocking out Juventus to put their name in the quarter-final pot.

The two-time Champions League winners will fear no one after their stunning extra-time heroics in Turin where they advanced on away goals.

Since then, Porto have won their last three games, trying to chase down Sporting CP in the Primeira Liga, currently eight points behind the leaders.

They’ll also have seen Chelsea’s shock 5-2 loss at home to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, which will give Sérgio Conceição’s side plenty of food for thought.

However, the Blues have turned a corner since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel, who replaced Frank Lampard in January. Chelsea controlled their tie against Atletico Madrid in a 3-0 aggregate win and the 2012 Champions League winners couldn’t have asked for a better last eight draw.

Whilst you would put the Premier League side as favourites to advance, Porto can dwell on past wins against Chelsea, with two previous Champions League victories in the head-to-head in 2004 and 2015, both games finishing 2-1 at the Estádio do Dragão.

There will be no home advantage for either side however with the first and second legs to be played at Sevilla’s Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán stadium.