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UEFA Champions League Preview

The UEFA Champions League quarter finals gets underway with four enticing matches to look forward to.
UEFA Champions League quarter-finals get underway with 4 enticing matches to look forward to.
And then there were eight! The UEFA Champions League quarter finals gets underway with four enticing matches to look forward to. On Tuesday, Europe’s most talented young teams collide when Dortmund and Monaco lock horns in the Westfalenstadion. Tuesday offers another mouth-watering clash when Barcelona travel to Turin to take on Juventus. Onto Wednesday, where Leicester City will hope to continue their fairy-tale run against last season’s Champions League runners-up, Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon Stadium. Undoubtedly the tie of the round sees current champions, Real Madrid, face the team I tipped for glory at the start of the campaign, Bayern Munich. We’re into the business end of the tournament so let’s see where we can find those winners, while enjoying some beautiful football played out by these remaining eight teams.

Tuesday 11 April

31/20 Juventus | Draw 23/10 | Barcelona 17/10 (20:45)

Recent history tells us that this will be a match where Barcelona dominate possession and Juventus sit deep and hope to catch them on the counter-attack. However, as much as that would seem likely to many people, I don’t see Juve sitting deep and letting Barca come at them. The Old Lady defend very well, but that won’t be the objective when these sides meet on Tuesday. Since Gonzalo Higuain moved from Napoli to Juventus, the consecutive five-time Scudetto winners have been even more ruthless in attack. Alongside the bright young talent of Argentine teammate, Paulo Dybala, the duo have been a nightmare for the best of defences. Massimiliano Allegri has changed his formation up a bit this season, sometimes finishing off with four forwards, including Juan Cuadrado and Mario Mandzukic. As class of an attack as that may sound, Barcelona still boast the better of attacking forces, with South American trio, Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi all producing the goods for the Spanish giants. Barcelona come into this fixture with high hopes after achieving a record-breaking comeback against PSG in the last round to overturn a 4-0 deficit. Luis Enrique’s side can’t afford to be so sloppy in the first leg this time. The Catalans came out on top by a 3-1 scoreline against the Old Lady in the 2015 UEFA Champions League final. Juventus boast the record of the best defence in the competition, conceding just two goals, which came in the group stages. The Bianconeri are also unbeaten in 21 European games at the Juventus Stadium. As tight of a game as this should be, Juve are tipped to come out on top.

13/20 Dortmund | 32/10 | Monaco 7/2 (20:45)

Up next is the tie that everybody hoped for. High-flyers Dortmund and Monaco go head-to-head for the personal crown of being the brightest attacking young side in Europe. Both Thomas Tuchel and Leonardo Jardim ply their trade on attacking football, so goals are expected in a tie of this magnitude. This will be the clubs’ first meeting in an UEFA competition. Dortmund topped Group F, which proved tricky with Real Madrid also battling it out in their group. Monaco also came out winners in their group, leaving Bayer Leverkusen to finish in second spot, with Tottenham dropping down to the UEFA Europa League. Dortmund haven't been at their best this season, but a certain amount of inconsistency is to be expected with a team so young. Ousmane Dembele, Emre Mor, Julian Weigl, Felix Passlack, Mikel Merino and Christian Pulisic are all key first-team players, yet they’re all under-21’s. Dortmund came from a goal down in the Last 16 to win 4-1 on aggregate against Benfica. Monaco had a much tougher fixture than their opponents, knocking Manchester City out over two legs by the away goal rule after it ended 6-6 on aggregate. Dortmund have lost just one of their last 12 home games in UEFA competitions. That said, back the German giants to Win & Both Teams to Score at 11/10.

Wednesday 12 April

3/10 Atletico Madrid | 4/1 | Leicester City 19/2 (20:45)

Atletico Madrid will look to end Leicester City’s so-called “luck run” when the Spanish giants host the English champions at the Vicente Calderon. Atletico know what the fairy-tale is all about. Just a few years ago, the Spanish La Liga title was shared between Real Madrid and Barcelona. That is not the case anymore with Diego Simeone’s side also reaching two of the last four UEFA Champions League finals. The good thing is for Leicester City, they look as if they’re back to being the side they were last season. After sacking Claudio Ranieri, the Foxes have gone with Craig Shakespeare as their man to continue the next chapter of their fairy-tale campaign. This will be Atletico’s fifth meeting against Leicester, with Los Colchoneros winning three and drawing one. Funny enough, two of Leicester's three previous European campaigns were ended by Atletico. It also needs to be said that Atleti have never lost to English opposition at home, winning five of their 10 meetings. At the time of writing, Leicester are on a five-match winning streak across all competitions, which seems like a fairy-tale of its own after the way the Foxes got their campaign underway. Despite Leicester being in such great form, I cannot see them getting anything out of this tie. Back Atletico Madrid at 3/10.

8/10 Bayern Munich | 11/4 | Real Madrid 31/10 (20:45)

The tie of the round sees Bayern Munich host UEFA Champions League-holders Real Madrid. At least one of the favourites will be heading out come the final whistle of the second leg. As massive of a clash that this will be, it will also see Carlo Ancelotti up against his former side, battling it out with Zinedine Zidane, who worked as his assistant from his time in Madrid. Surprisingly, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are the only two sides left that finished runners-up in their groups. However, both teams showed their class in the Round of 16, with Bayern thrashing Arsenal 10-2 on aggregate, while Real beat Napoli 6-2 over two legs. This first leg is the 23rd fixture between the two sides, making it the most played match in UEFA club competitions. From the 11 matches played in Germany, Bayern have won nine, and lost just once. Real Madrid will look to be the first club to retain the UEFA Champions League after winning the competition last year. Ancelotti, after winning Los Blancos’ 10th Champions League trophy, will be hoping to claim Europe’s elite cup in his first season at the Bayern dugout. Both sides boast a quality attack and a defence just as brilliant. We’re in for a cracking encounter here, but I feel like Bayern should do enough to win the first leg.

QUAD @ 11/1
Juventus Win 31/20
Dortmund Win & BTTS 11/10
Atletico Madrid Win 3/10
Bayern Munich Win 8/10

Written by Jesse Nagel