Tag Archives: Champions League

Manchester United European woes are the tip of the iceberg

Nine. Nine games. Nine match days. That’s all that’s left of this God forsaken season for Manchester United after they crashed out of the UEFA Champions League at the last 16 stage to Atletico Madrid once again.

Just as a disclaimer, this isn’t me writing this article as a football journalist. This is me writing this as a Manchester United fan and getting all my frustrations out because this club is making all the same mistakes.

It’ll be five years with no trophy at the end of this season and nine years without a league title for the 20-time champions. United are at rock bottom.



First things first, sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was the right thing. But he also absolutely wasn’t the only problem at the club. Those issues start way above him or any other manager’s head.

The thing this club lacks the most is an actual identity. Yes that’s a buzzword right now in modern football, but it’s a fact.

Whenever Manchester City step on the pitch, you know exactly what the role of each and every player on the pitch is. Regardless of personnel, you know what each player in each position is expected to do.

When Liverpool step on the pitch, you know the same thing. Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Inter Milan. All the top sides in the world are in the same boat.

It makes recruitment easy too, because you immediately know which players would suit and which players wouldn’t.

At Manchester United, there is no such luxury. This is a squad banded together by marketing people with a mix of talents and qualities, with the hope that whoever has been given the managerial role at the time can sort it out.

There is no vision. This board survived on the brilliance of Sir Alex Ferguson and the monopoly he had over the Premier League for so long, they thought it would carry over when he left.

This squad needs a total revamp. Not because they’re not good enough, because they are. This group of players, with the right manager, are capable of competing. There is no doubt about that.

But who the right manager is, is impossible to decipher when there is no vision or identity at the club right now.

Take Scott McTominay as an example. It’s well known I’m not his biggest fan, but he’s into his third manager now where he’s one of the first names on the team sheet.

I can’t explain why, most fans aren’t sure why and when you listen to ex-pros or pundits talk about him, they almost never mention his footballing ability when discussing his best attributes.

It’s always ‘passion’, ‘energy’, ‘running’. Never his passing ability, or his ability to break up play, or his positional sense. But it’s almost impossible to criticise the manager for picking him because we have no idea what the team is being asked to do. There is no identity in the team.

At this point, it’s already been a decade of mediocrity. The club can wait a few more years and finally get it right.

They made a good decision bringing in Ralf Rangnick to help sort out the behind the scenes issues, it’s just a shame he needed to have six months in the limelight first before getting to work.

It could be a good thing though. He knows exactly what needs to be done. He knows the club needs a revamp and he knows it starts off the football pitch rather than on it.

First, establish a style. An identity. So that once the managers leave, or players become not good enough anymore it’s easy to identify replacements without having to burn everything down to the ground first.

Second, build a squad to suit. That could take a few years to get the right players in and get the players on the edge out, but it’s doable – especially with the resources the club have.

Thirdly, be consistent and challenge. The squad doesn’t need tonnes of work, but it does need key areas addressing, despite what was seen as a largely successful summer last year with the additions of Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Until the club make those decisions and take those steps, it doesn’t matter who is in charge. It doesn’t matter how much money you throw at the situation, because the problems trickle down from the top all the way down to the bottom.

This issue is way bigger than being eliminated by Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last 16, and not finishing in the top four in the Premier League.

This is about a complete lack of planning and a complete lack of care at the top of the club.

Never have I been so disconnected from the club I have loved all my life, and the vast majority of fans I know and have spoken to largely feel the same way.

If the people in charge of the club don’t care, why should we? The answer is because the club will be there long after those people, and hopefully we will be too.

When they go, we can get back to loving this club like we once did. But until these issues are addressed properly, it’s no longer a football club but simply another multi-billion pound business.

How long will it take Newcastle to break into the Champions League?

Ever since the Saudi PIF took Newcastle over at the back end of 2021, the question has been when, not if, will they break into the UEFA Champions League?

This season the priority under Eddie Howe was safety, having won just one of their first 20 Premier League games under Howe and previous manager Steve Bruce.

But now unbeaten in eight games, with six wins in that run, the Magpies now sit seven points above the relegation zone and can start planning ahead for their assault on football’s elite.



Many reports have been shared of Newcastle targeting top level players to add to their squad, including the likes of Antonio Rudiger, Kalvin Phillips and even Marcus Rashford.

Bringing in that calibre of talent would undoubtedly accelerate their push towards breaking through the glass ceiling, but how realistic is that? Not very.

The first priority for the Tyneside club is going to be to separate themselves from the clubs at the bottom of the league in order to avoid this same situation next season.

Players like Chris Wood were brought in more to weaken their opposition than strengthen their squad and are unlikely to be starters going into the new season, while there is room to improve almost all other positions.

But they won’t be able to skip stages and go straight to signing top level players because of the money they now have available to them.

The ‘Big Six’ in the Premier League – Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham – all have huge amounts of money available to them also and they won’t stop spending just because Newcastle are going to start.

When Man City got their billions overnight, they had several years of competing in a much weaker league than now before they were able to break that barrier.

They didn’t have FFP regulations to deal with either back then, which is something that the Saudi’s must adhere to.

My prediction for Newcastle to make it into Europe’s elite competition is at least four seasons because of the standard of the big six currently and all the teams in between them too.

They will likely improve year on year, but not everything will go their way. They will miss out on key targets to other clubs, they will lose players to top sides, they’ll have spells where their form is bad and the manager gets changed.

They will get there eventually, I have no doubts, but it will be longer than many are expecting it to be in my eyes.

Benfica vs Ajax – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In a tie that is highly likely to be entertaining, two excellent young teams go head-to-head as Portuguese giants Benfica clash Eredivisie champions Ajax for a spot in the quarter-finals.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to Last 16

SL Benfica arguably caused the shock of the group stages as they pipped Barcelona to the runners-up spot in a group also containing Bayern Munich and Dinamo Kyiv.

They claimed a 3-0 win over the La Liga outfit at the Estadio Da Luz, before a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou meant they only needed to match Barca’s result in the final game. They won 2-0 against Kyiv to seal their spot, having scored seven goals and conceded nine.

Jorge Jesus has since left the club however, replaced by Nelson Verissimo until the end of the season.

Ajax completed a stunning group stage phase with six wins out of six, as Sebastian Haller scored ten goals to lead the scoring charts, scoring in all six games.

Erik Ten Haag’s side dominated a group including Sporting CP, Dortmund and Besiktas, scoring 20 goals and conceding just five to assert themselves as dark horses for the title.

Team news

Benfica have been in good form domestically but were held to a 2-2 draw most recently against Boavista. Grimaldo returned to the team and scored in that game, in a huge boost to the side.

Darwin Nunez has been in exceptional form this season with 21 goals in 26 games and will continue in attack, but Haris Seferovic is missing for the hosts. Goncalo Ramos should start in his place.

Ajax will be without trio Brian Brobbey, Martin Stekelenburg and Sean Klaiber, while Andre Onana is likely to continue to sit in the stands ahead of his summer move to Inter Milan.

Haller will continue in attack, while superstar winger Antony will continue to support him along with Dusan Tadic as they look to continue their 100% record throughout the competition.

Breakdown and Prediction

Benfica’s 442 system will be in place as usual to try and find a hole in the Ajax defence, but the Dutch giants are going to be well equipped for this fixture.

Having already been to Lisbon and dominated Sporting, they’re coming up against a lesser side who play a system more suited to them and they should have too much for them in attack.

Benfica have got plenty of firepower and defensively are quite strong, so don’t rule out an upset in the home leg but realistically this is an Ajax side at their absolute peak under Ten Hag.

The Dutch giants will dominate the tempo of the game and possession and slowly but surely chip away before scoring goals and claiming a routine win over two legs.

Benfica 1-3 Ajax
Ajax 2-0 Benfica
(Ajax to qualify 5-1 on aggregate)

Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In one of the biggest ties of the round, current reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid take on Premier League giants Manchester United for a place in the quarter-finals.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to Last 16

Atletico Madrid made it through to the knockout stages by the skin of their teeth in a poor group stage by their own standards.

Diego Simeone’s side suffered defeat home and away to Liverpool and they were beaten at home by AC Milan, but a final day win over FC Porto saw them claim the runners-up spot in the group.

They scored seven goals in the six games, conceding eight but crazily there were seven red cards in their group stage games too to show the frustration they carried.

Manchester United overcame a tough start to their group win finish top with a game to spare, despite changing managers during the group stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored in all five of his appearances to help United claim wins over Villarreal home and away and Atalanta at Old Trafford but they failed to beat lowly Club Brugge at all.

United scored a total of 11 goals int heir six group games, conceding eight and only managing to keep one clean sheet.

Team news

Atletico Madrid are facing several injury issues with all of Daniel Wass, Matheus Cunha and Yannick Carrasco ruled out of the game, while Thomas Lemar, Koke and Mario Hermoso doubtful.

Simeone was seen in training with a lineup consisting of a back-five, with January signing Reinildo as a centre-back, while Joao Felix and Luis Suarez could start together. Angel Correa is pushing for a start though following his good form.

Ralf Rangnick’s options are much better, with Edinson Cavani expected to be fit following a groin injury that has seen him miss the last few games.

Marcus Rashford has recently found himself on the bench after some poor form, so Anthony Elanga could get a start while Jadon Sancho will look to continue his excellent form. Ronaldo will continue up front.

Breakdown and Prediction

Atletico still have a reputation of being a defensive side with little intention to play attacking football, but that isn’t the case anymore.

The team have kept just three clean sheets since the turn of the year and have lost eight of their last 15 games in all competitions.

Manchester United on the other hand have been struggling with their performances in recent weeks, but the results haven’t taken a massive hit so far under Rangnick.

Across 90 minutes, they’ve lost just once since he became manager in 14 games but they’re yet to win three games in a row in all competitions this season. They won their last two, with a 3-0 win over Brighton and 4-2 win over Leeds.

This game is likely to be tight with both sides relatively low on confidence in their performance, despite the difference in their results.

Home advantage is likely to play a big part in both games, but I do feel that Man United will be able to progress because they have more goals in their team.

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Manchester United
Manchester United 2-1 Atletico Madrid
(Manchester United qualify 2-1 on aggregate)

Villarreal vs Juventus – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In an intriguing tie we’ll see the Europa League holders Villarreal take on Serie A giants Juventus, who have just bolstered their squad with a £66 million striker in Dusan Vlahovic during January.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to the last 16

La Liga outfit Villarreal were able to secure their path into the knockout stages after pipping Atalanta to the runners-up spot in their group.

Unai Emery’s side suffered defeats home and away to Manchester United, but went undefeated beyond that and had their place confirmed prior to the final group game.

Juventus on the other hand were able to clinch top spot thanks to a 1-0 win over Malmo in their final group game, while Chelsea were held by Zenit.

Max Allegri’s team earned five wins from their six games, but it was a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Thomas Tuchel’s Blues that will give Emery’s side confidence heading into the final game.

Team news

Villarreal will be without their top scorer Gerard Moreno for the game, while Francis Coquelin and Ruben Pena will also miss the game. January signing Giovanni Lo Celso is a doubt, while Etienne Capoue is also expected to be racing against time to be available.

Arnaut Danjuma has been one of the stand out players for the Yellow Submarine so far this season, and his performances have seen him ear-marked as the true danger man for Juventus to deal with.

Juventus welcome Vlahovic to Europe’s elite competition for the first time in his career after his big money move from Fiorentina, and he should start.

Paulo Dybala is expected to miss the game, while Federico Chiesa is out for the rest of the season with an ACL tear. Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will miss the game, which will likely see Danilo partner Matthijs De Ligt in the heart of defence.

Breakdown and Prediction

This is a game that will be decided by who plays less badly over the two legs, because neither team are particularly good right now.

Villarreal will be sturdy off the ball with their setup there to contain Juventus and pick them off on the counter with Danjuma’s pace.

Juventus are trying to become a ball dominant side who can sustain attacks and apply constant pressure to their opposition, but they’re in shocking form and really struggling this season.

Neither team have much chance of doing big things in this tournament this season, but in a game likely to be close you’d have to make the assumption that individual quality will make a difference.

Ultimately, the goals of Vlahovic will likely prove vital in this tie and the home tie back in Turin for the second leg should see Juventus qualify – just.

Villarreal 1-1 Juventus
Juventus 2-1 Villarreal
(Juventus to qualify 3-2 on aggregate)

Chelsea vs Lille – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In an intriguing tie we’ll see the current holders Chelsea take on French league champions Lille in a tie that would be expected to go one way but could well go the other.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to the last 16

Last season’s winner and the current World champions Chelsea had a pretty good group stage, but defeat on the final day to Juventus cost them the top spot.

Tuchel’s side claimed four wins and a draw from their first five games, including a memorable 4-0 win against the Serie A giants with an excellent record of just four goals conceded.

Lille on the other hand claimed top spot in arguably the weakest group of the first round, pipping RB Salzburg, Sevilla and Wolfsburg to the berth.

Jocelyn Gourvennec led his side to three wins and two draws including wins away to Sevilla and Wolfsburg to claim their path into the last 16, also conceding just four goals throughout the group stage.

In comparison though, Lille only managed seven goals across their six games while Chelsea scored more than double that with 13.

Team news

Chelsea are still struggling with some injury problems, with wing-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell not yet fit. Mason Mount won’t be fit for the first leg but Cesar Azpilicueta could return to the team after missing the weekend win over Crystal Palace.

Romelu Lukaku’s form is in the gutter, but Tuchel is likely to stick with the Belgian in the hope that he can play through it and find a goalscoring streak ahead of the weekend’s Carabao Cup final.

Lille are at almost full strength for the tie, with the only absentee expected to be former Manchester United attacking midfielder Angel Gomes.

The youngster was forced off injury in their latest Ligue 1 game and is now expected to miss the game, while Orestis Karnezis will miss the game.

All of Andre, Renato Sanches and Xeka are competing to start in midfield, with the former two likely to get the nod.

Breakdown and Prediction

Chelsea have moved away from their 343 formation since their wing-backs suffered with injuries, and Tuchel has since gone with a 433 formation to get back to winning ways.

They still look to keep the ball for the vast majority of the game and attack down the wings but without Mount they’ve lacked that attacking mind in midfield recently.

I expect Tuchel to move back to his 343 for this game if Azpilicueta and/or Callum Hudson-Odoi are fit again, playing as the right wing-back with Marcos Alonso reinstalled at left wing-back after his assist at the weekend.

Lille will try to soak up the pressure with their usual 442 system and try to counter with the pace of Jonathan David in attack.

Realistically they will struggle to make that effective, because it’s exactly what Chelsea are set up to play against. Lille have been okay defensively this season, but they’ve struggled to find the back of the net and have a negative goal difference in their domestic league.

Ultimately, this is Chelsea’s tie to lose. They have the better coach, better squad and if they’re on song then they should be able to win this tie relatively comfortably.

Chelsea 2-0 Lille
Lillle 0-1 Chelsea
(Chelsea to qualify 3-0 on aggregate)

RB Salzburg vs Bayern Munich – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

One of the ties kicking off this week will see Austrian outfit RB Salzburg take on 2020 winners and German Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to the last 16

Salzburg made it through to the knockout stages after making sure they took their opportunity to progress through the weakest group we’ve seen in a long time.

With three wins and one draw from their six group games, Salzburg found themselves finishing ahead of top seeds Sevilla and behind only Lille by one solitary point.

Bayern Munich made routine work of their group which included both Barcelona and Benfica too, winning six out of six games and conceding just three goals in the process.

They scored a competition high 22 goals in those games and have been marked as one of the favourites to win the whole thing again under Julien Nagelsmann.

Team news

The Austrian outfit will be without six regular first-teamers through injury for the game and that’s a huge blow to them.

Brenden Aaronson and Karim Adeyemi are the star attackers in the team and both are fit and expected to start, and they’re arguably coming up against Bayern at the perfect time.

The Germans are without Manuel Neuer, Alphonso Davies and Leon Goretzka for the game and are coming off the back of a 4-2 thumping by Bochum at the weekend.

That means Theo Hernandez will likely keep his place at left-back, while Sven Ulreich will start in goal. Frenchman Corentin Tolisso should start in midfield alongside Joshua Kimmich, after Nagelsmann’s failed experiment of using a lone holding midfielder.

Karim Adeyemi of FC Salzburg reacts during the UEFA Champions League group G match between VfL Wolfsburg and RB Salzburg at Volkswagen Arena on...

Breakdown and Prediction

Salzburg usually use a 4-3-1-2 formation with a very narrow midfield and pace up front to try and cause damage to the opposition defence on the counter attack.

When they come up against Bayern Munich though, they will need to be at their absolute best and more to get something over two legs.

Bayern better them in quality all over the park and even without some first-choice players, they have more depth on their bench to choose from as well.

Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Muenchen celebrates during the UEFA Champions League group E football match between SL Benfica and FC Bayern Muenchen at...

Salzburg will give it a good try for sure and without Neuer between the sticks they might be able to snatch a goal, but I’d seriously consider finding a betting market that offers you odds on Robert Lewandowski to outscore Salzburg across the tie because it’s probably going to come in.

RB Salzburg 1-3 Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich 4-0 RB Salzburg
(Bayern Munich to qualify 7-1 on aggregate)

Inter Milan vs Liverpool – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In one of the biggest ties of the round we’ll see Italian champions Inter Milan in their first knockout round since the 2011/12 season, and they’ll take on Premier League heavyweights Liverpool.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to the last 16

It was two very different group stages for these two sides, with Simone Inzaghi’s men battling it out with Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk and Sheriff until the final day.

It wasn’t until defeat to Madrid in that final group game that they were unable to win the group, but with three wins from the other five games they managed to secure the runners-up spot.

They scored only eight goals during the groups, and conceded five, so there is plenty of room for improvement there. Domestically, they currently a point behind rivals AC Milan with a game in hand.

For Liverpool, it was quite literally the perfect campaign.

A group of death containing AC Milan, Atletico Madrid and FC Porto was expected to cause them problems but Jurgen Klopp’s side made it six wins from six to become the first English side to earn a 100% record in the competition’s history.

They scored a wonderful 17 goals in six games, conceding six to come into the knockout stages as one team that everyone wanted to avoid.

Team news

Inter will be missing their key midfielder Nicolo Barella for the first leg after he was sent off in the final group game against Real Madrid.

Arturo Vidal should replace him, while Ivan Perisic is likely to continue at left-wing-back with January signing Robert Gosens still injured.

Nicolo Barella FC Internazionale Milano leaves the pitch after receiving a red card during the UEFA Champions League group D match between Real...

Liverpool are essentially at full strength and Klopp has got the strongest squad of his entire tenure at Anfield to choose from currently.

Diogo Jota will likely return to the team after missing the weekend win over Burnley, while Luis Diaz will probably start on the bench since both Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are back from AFCON.

Breakdown and Prediction

Inzaghi will stick with his 3-5-2 system that he loves, with Lautaro Martinez likely partnered up front by Edin Dzeko.

The midfield strength with Brozovic and Calhanoglu gives lots of balance and with Vidal going box-to-box they can go toe-to-toe with the Liverpool midfield.

In attack though, Liverpool are likely to cause far problems to Inter than vice-versa. They have great depth and goals from all three attackers are possible, but Inter have adapted their system in Europe under Inzaghi and are difficult to beat.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool with Sadio Mane of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre on February 11, 2022 in Kirkby, England.

Without any real pace in behind though, Liverpool should be able to deal with their best attacking threats and while a clean sheet won’t be easy I would be surprised if Inter grabbed a goal at Anfield.

Because of that and the added depth they have in their squad, I expect Liverpool to progress through this tie but don’t be surprised if they make hard work of it.

Inter Milan 1-1 Liverpool
Liverpool 2-0 Inter Milan
(Liverpool to qualify 3-1 on aggregate)

Sporting CP vs Manchester City – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In a very exciting match up the Portuguese champions Sporting CP play host to the tournament favourites and current Premier League champions Man City.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to the last 16

In their first appearance in the Champions League for several years, Sporting made their presence felt by finishing as runners-up in the group of hipster teams.

Ruben Amorim’s side started poorly with defeats to Ajax and Dortmund in the opening two games, but back-to-back wins over Besiktas and then a huge home win against Dortmund saw them edge towards qualification.

In the end, it was Dortmund’s poor results against Ajax that cost them as they were eliminated on goal difference.

Man City on the other hand cruised to victory in their group of death, winning five of six games against Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig and Club Brugge.

Their only defeat came to PSG in Paris, when they played brilliantly but were caught out twice by Pochettino’s side.

They scored 18 goals in the group stages, more than everyone else bar Ajax and Bayern Munich, and come into the game in excellent form.

Team news

Sporting are likely to be without excellent midfielder Pote this season, who has been one of the best performing players in their team.

Joao Palhinha, Pablo Sarabia and Paulinho are the key men in midfield and attack and should all be available to start the game, while Sebastian Coates will lead the defence as captain.

Amorim’s 3-5-2 formation is likely to be set up to contain City rather than attack them too much, so expect Nuno Santos to play a little bit deeper than usual.

City will be without £100m man Jack Grealish and Gabriel Jesus, while Kyle Walker is set to start a three-game suspension for his red card on the final match day of the group stages.

Raheem Sterling has been in fine form in recent weeks, bagging a hat-trick at the weekend while Kevin De Bruyne has had his minutes managed and is in peak physical condition for the business end of the season.

Ederson, Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo will know the opposition well having previously played for Benfica and will all likely start the game.

Breakdown and Prediction

This is a game that is due to be really exciting and full of excellent tactical battles across the pitch.

Sporting play a high-intensity system with a big emphasis on scoring goals and controlling the ball, much like Pep Guardiola at City.

The difference here of course is that the quality of player that Guardiola has available to him is far greater than that of the Portuguese outfit.

Kevin de Bruyne of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his teams first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea...

Because of that, plus the experience at the top level, it’s fair to expect City to be able to dominate the game and implement their game plan on Sporting rather than the other way around.

With that being said, it’s hard to look past a relatively comfortable City win over the course of two legs.

Sporting will cause them problems over the course of the 180 minutes, but ultimately the added quality on the pitch and the touchline will pay dividends and City will progress to the next round.

Sporting CP 0-2 Man City
Man City 3-1 Sporting CP
(Man City qualify 5-1 on aggregate)

Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In arguably the tie of the round we’ll see last season’s semi-finalists Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid go head-to-head in a star-studded two-legged affair.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to the last 16

Paris Saint-Germain were planted right in the middle of another group of death scenario as they were last season, alongside Man City, RB Leizig and Club Brugge.

They made hard work of it, ending the group stage in second place some way behind City after draws with both Brugge and Leipzig as well as a defeat by City at the Etihad Stadium. It wasn’t until victory in the final game that they secured qualification.

Real Madrid had an easier time of qualification in their group, alongside Inter Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk and minnows Sheriff.

They were shockingly beaten at the Bernabeu by Sheriff, but were able to win all five of their other fixtures to top the group and pull clear of Italian champions Inter on the final day to secure that spot.

Team news

PSG are likely to be without former Madrid captain Sergio Ramos for the first-leg of the game, with the Spaniard still suffering from calf problems that have restricted him to just four appearances this season.

Neymar is back in training after injury but will likely only make the bench at best for the first leg, meaning old foe Lionel Messi and Madrid-bound Kylian Mbappe will lead their attack.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is likely to get the nod ahead of Keylor Navas in goal, while Achraf Hakimi will also be making a return to the Bernabeu during this tie.

Paris Saint-Germain's Spanish defender Sergio Ramos and Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe run during the warm-up sesson ahead of the...

For Madrid, they’re struggling to get key man Karim Benzema fit following a thigh injury.

The French striker has missed each of the last three games, and Ancelotti’s side have managed just one goal in his absence. Vinicius Jr has also seen his form dip since, which is bad news for Los Blancos.

Eden Hazard is fit but out of favour, but as a man always ready for the big occasion he could get the nod in Benzema’s absence. Ferland Mendy is also a doubt at left-back, so Marcelo could start.

Breakdown and Prediction

Tactically these two teams are very similar on the pitch with the way they set up defensively and the way they attack.

Both managers have formed a solid defence during the season, with a midfield that is all about control rather than creativity or solidity.

They complete plenty of passes on the ball and play their way out of tight situations, using pace and individual skill to create goalscoring opportunities in the final third.

With Benzema likely to be out of the game and Vinicius’ form struggling without him, PSG have a huge chance of progression.

Messi’s best form has come in Europe this season, with five goals in the six group games while Mbappe has been sensational this season and is the club’s top scorer.

Away goals are no longer a factor in the tournament so home advantage in the second leg is less important, and PSG must look to take advantage of a weaker Madrid team that they’ll be coming up against.

It’ll be a close but entertaining affair for sure, simply because of the quality on the pitch, but I do expect PSG to have the added X-factor in attack and be able to eliminate the 13-time champions.

Paris SG 2-0 Real Madrid
Real Madrid 1-1 Paris SG
(Paris SG qualify 3-1 on aggregate)