The train to Lisbon is almost ready but four passengers are missing. While the UEFA Champions League prepares its own bubble definition in Portugal, eight teams have yet to play the second leg of the Round of 16, abruptly interrupted when the pandemic outbreak hit Europe in March. Atletico de Madrid, RB Salzburg, Paris Saint-Germain and Atalanta have already qualified for the Last 8. Who will join them?
It’s been a while since we last heard the Champions League hymn, and many have lost track of the current state of the competition.
When Friday 7 August, 9 pm CET, at City of Manchester
The situation With Liverpool out of the tournament, and the good news coming from Switzerland as CAS overturned City’s ban by UEFA, Pep Guardiola’s men will face this mini-tournament with less pressure. They will miss Sergio Aguero, still on the sidelines after his knee injury. Real Madrid, recently crowned La Liga champions, will not have Sergio Ramos, who saw the red card in the first-leg. One of their squad players, Mariano, is isolating at home after testing positive for Covid-19 last Monday.
Any other thing? Real Madrid needed special permission from the UK government in order to avoid the 14-day quarantine imposed on anyone travelling from Spain.
Who will get the ticket? Manchester City 60% – Real Madrid: 40%
When Friday 7 August, 9 pm CET at Juventus Stadium
The situation The Italian champions will try to come back from the 0-1 defeat against Olympique Lyonnais and Maurizio Sarri knows that this can be the most important game of the season. Paulo Dybala is recovering from an injury but it appears that he will be fit to start. Lyon, who played their first competitive game in four months, lost the French Cup final against PSG on penalties. A battle of nerves expected at Turin, but who better than Cristiano Ronaldo to kill the pressure?
Any other thing? Juventus have crowned Serie A champions for the ninth time in a row, but it is the first time since 1961 in which champions suffered 40 goals in a season. If they ship one goal from Lyon, they will need to score three to advance.
Who will get the ticket? Juventus 55% – Lyon 45%
When Saturday 8 August, 9 pm CET at Bayern Arena
The situation The least exciting clash from the menu. The fables of remontadas are from the pre-pandemic era, and it will be very unlikely that Chelsea pulls off the miracle after the heavy 3-0 defeat suffered at Stamford Bridge. Pedro and Willian are likely to be available for The Blues. Bayern has crowned champions of Bundesliga and DFB Pokal this season, and with the power of Müller, Lewandowski and Gnabry they dream with a Champions League victory, something that manager Hansi Flick defined as “the cherry on top”.
Any other thing? Bayern and Chelsea are also clashing in the transfer market, as they both seem to be keen on signing Barcelona keeper Marc-André ter Stegen.
Who will get the ticket? Bayern 80% – Chelsea 20%.
When Saturday 8 August, 9 pm CET at Camp Nou
The situation Despite Napoli trying to move the game to Lisbon, Camp Nou awaits a thriller with nothing certain after the 1-1 from the first-leg. Barcelona has not lost a game at home since 2013, a remarkable unbeaten run of 35 matches. But the atmosphere in the Catalan dressing room is far from perfect after the team threw away La Liga. Leo Messi warned: “Playing like this, we won’t go through Napoli”. The Italians, crowned champions of Coppa Italia with Gennaro Gattuso as a manager, rely on their explosive attack as they could qualify with a draw of 2 or more goals.
Who will get the ticket? Barcelona 60% – Napoli 40%.
culled: AIPS Media
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