Some of the biggest leagues in the world could be without a representative in the Champions League Quarterfinals following some stunning upsets. Ligue 1 and Serie A have just one team left in this year’s competition and both teams are underdogs to advance heading into the second leg of the Round of 16. Paris Saint-Germain’s loss leaves Olympique Lyon as the lone French team left, while Roma’s defeat means that Juventus must rally in order for an Italian team to reach the Quarterfinals.
Spain is likely to put at least one team in with both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid sizable favorites to advance, but neither team has punched their ticket yet. Real Madrid’s shock exit at the hands of Ajax leaves those two sides as the last La Liga clubs alive. Germany has not been spared either. Borussia Dortmund has already been bounced out, and FC Schalke 04 is unlikely to knock off Manchester City, leaving Bayern Munich left as the primary standard bearer for the Bundesliga.
With all those traditional powerhouses struggling, there has to be a big winner, and thus far, that’s been the Premier League. As many as half the teams in the Quarterfinals could hail from England with Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur already through to the final eight and Manchester City and Liverpool looking to seal bids on Wednesday.
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Bayern Munich PK and -0.5 vs. Liverpool, O/U 2.5 and 3
The first leg between these two teams was a dud of the game. Neither team could get much offense going in Anfield as the two sides combined for just two shots on goal in a scoreless draw. That gives Liverpool something of an edge here, even though this game is in Munich. Any sort of result for the Reds other than a goalless draw puts them through on away goals, so an early goal puts the gears in motion early.
Bayern Munich look much better than they did at the start of the season though. Bayern have come on strong in the Bundesliga and have caught Borussia Dortmund, and Robert Lewandowski has caught fire in the Champions League. He is currently the competition’s leading scorer with eight goals in seven games, and he came on strong at the end of the Group Stage with three consecutive braces to give Bayern the top spot in the group.
I figure this game will be fairly high scoring. Both teams have plenty of options on the attack, and an early goal for either side will open things up fairly early. I’ll take the over here.
FC Barcelona -1.5 and -2 vs. Olympique Lyon, O/U 3 and 3.5
This game ended in a scoreless draw the first time around as well, but Lyon had to hold on for dear life. Barca fired 25 shots and controlled the lion’s share of possession, yet they couldn’t break through and that gives the French club a modicum of hope.
Lionel Messi is looking to dash that hope. Despite playing less than 400 minutes in the Champions League thus far, he has six goals and has been incredible in his time on the pitch.
Lyon have picked up a draw in six of their seven Champions League matches to date, but that largely hasn’t been due to good defense. Their first clean sheet of the competition was their last game against Barcelona, so it’s very unlikely they hold the Blaugrana off once more.
I think Nabil Fekir and Moussa Dembele will play well for Lyon in this one, but it won’t be enough. Barcelona have too many horses and I see them winning by a score of 2-1 or 3-1.
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