Europe’s premier club football competition, the UEFA Champions League (UCL), has been pitting the best teams Europe has to offer against each other for over 60 years. The teams that reached the quarter-finals played their first leg last week, and fans eagerly await this week’s season-defining second-leg matchups. Which teams will fight their way to the semi-finals?
The UCL’s two previous champions face off as Real Madrid plays Chelsea. Real Madrid remains the favorites to win it all this year, having won the tournament for a record 14th time last season. On the flip side, Chelsea recently hired club legend Frank Lampard as an interim coach with hopes he would steady a sinking ship, but the team has lost all three games since his appointment. These two teams went head-to-head in last season’s quarter-finals, with forwards Rodrygo and Karim Benzema scoring in the dying minutes match, giving Madrid a 5-4 aggregate win. With Madrid’s 2-0 first-leg win, “Los Blancos” should cruise through to the semi-finals.
Prediction: 2-0 (Madrid) / Agg: 4-0 (Madrid) Reality: 2-0/ (Madrid) Agg 4-0 (Madrid)
Two Italian rivals yet again clash on the European stage. Led by summer signings Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Kim Kim Minjae, Napoli has seemed unbeatable all season. Meanwhile, defending Serie A champions AC Milan have had a tough season. In spite of this Milan has defeated Napoli twice in their most recent meetings, destroying them 4-0 in the Italian league, and triumphing 1-0 in the first leg at the San Siro last Wednesday. With Napoli facing Victor Osimhen’s injury and Kim’s suspension, can their fairy tale season continue?
Prediction: 1-0 (Napoli) / Agg: Napoli wins on penalties Reality: 1-1/ Agg 2-1 (Milan)
Two underdogs face each other again in Milan this Wednesday as Benfica plays Inter Milan. The 2021 Serie A Champions put themselves in a good position to get to the semifinals, with their 2-0 first-leg win being Benfica’s first defeat in the UCL this season. Inter’s recent form also suggests they will advance, as they are unbeaten in their last five games, four of those being victories. The two underdogs’ second leg will happen in San Siro.
Prediction: 3-0 (Inter) / Agg: 4-0 (Inter)
Two giants of the game, Man City and Bayern, will battle against each other in the Allianz Arena on Wednesday. Bayern recently fired Nagelsmann after he could not solidify Bayern’s position in the league, and appointed ex-Chelsea manager Tuchel as his replacement. Despite Tuchel’s ability as a coach, he will need time to implement his style and adapt to the new environment. On the flip side, this is the seventh season with Guardiola managing Man City, and he has given the team a definite tactical identity. The first leg ended with City dominating the German champions 3-0. Can City continue to translate their domestic dominance to the European stage?
Prediction: 3-2 (City) / Agg: 6-2 (City)