CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PREDICTIONS

The month of April 2019 has been a real memorable one until now for a lot of reasons, not to mention the very first images of Black Hole being taken and made live for the world to see this amazing phenomenon of nature and the mysteries that lie beyond the imagination of mankind.

Einstein was right all along.

He correctly predicted the existence of something unimaginable and here we are, 103 years after his predictions about Black Holes, witnessing it become true.

Albert Einstein funny on Connor McGregor
A true genius

Wow. Amazing. But hey, I wasn’t here to read about Black Holes and Einstein. I would have gone to NASA’s website instead if I was feeling so curious.

Of course, you are here to read about Champions League predictions for 2019 and go on with your life and business. My apologies as I could not help myself but mention about the beauty of nature and the magnitude of the event.

Almost all football lovers could agree to this fact that they seek a sense of beauty and art while watching and playing football. A swivel of hips by the attacker to leave a defender on all floors, a flashy stepover to storm past a player, a thumping header, a last ditch tackle to save a definite goal, a quick swerve of the foot to find the top corner of the net, a pass on the blind side of the whole defense to make the striker go one on one with keeper, the list could go on. We aspire to witness all this in a football match and want the best of the best players to do it against each other. Earlier people had to wait for 4 years to again witness such a phenomenon, but modern-day football has made it much easier for us.

Thank God for Champions League.

After dominating the Champions League for 3 straight years, Real Madrid crashed out of it in the Round of 16 stage by a young and dynamic Ajax team full of youngsters who are surely superstars in making for coming years. This made the Champions League wide open for 8 teams still in the competition and trying to make their mark on the most desirable club trophy.

Let me present you with a quick analysis and my predictions for the teams most likely to advance to the Semi Final stage in this season.

Juventus

Recent form in Serie A – LWWWL
The Old Lady has been unstoppable in the Serie A and could’ve wrapped up the title in record time only for the latest defeat to SPAL, now they have to hold the celebrations until their next league match against Fiorentina at home.

If they have been a dominant force in the Serie A, same can’t be said exclusively of their Champions League form. They have already suffered 3 defeats in this term of the competition and were on the verge of going out in the Round of 16 to Atletico Madrid after their 2-0 away defeat at Wanda Metropolitano. But thanks to a certain Cristiano Ronaldo’s hattrick, who joined them at the beginning of this season, they made a remarkable comeback and are again in the mix of favourites to lift the trophy.

While Ajax did the unthinkable and overturned a 2-1 deficit at Santiago Bernabeau with a 4-1 victory to march into the quarters, the Old Lady will be a different ball game altogether at Allianz Arena in Turin.

The Bianconeri have not been defeated by Ajax in their last 10 meetings in all competitions. It is the joint longest such record of a side against another in European competitions. Juventus home record in Champions League is ridiculous to say the best as they have lost only 4 times in the last 50 Champions League matches, they played at home.

It will be a mission impossible kind of situation for Ajax to come out on top against the Old Lady.

Barcelona

Recent form in La Liga – DWDWW
Since past 3 seasons the Blaugrana outfit had been crashing out of the Champions League at the Quarter Final stage. They have not been able to see the face of Semi Final stage since last winning the competition in 2014-15 season. However, the manner in which the Cules bowed out of the competition to Roma last season; it left an undeniable scar to every player and fan of Barcelona alike. Such has been the bitter taste of defeat that even winning the domestic double trophies didn’t seem to lighten the mood among the Culers.

As a tradition, every Barcelona captain acknowledges its home supporters at the beginning of the season. The first thing Lionel Messi spoke about after being presented as the first captain in front of their home fans is the bitter memory of defeat in Rome and the desire to bring the Champions Trophy back to the Camp Nou. This was the promise he made to his fans and considering his otherworldly form both in La Liga and Champions League, he looks like a man on a mission to achieve something most desirable to him. He has already scored 8 goals in this season’s Champions League and 48 overall with quite a lot of games yet to be played considering Barcelona advance to the finals.

Manchester United had managed to keep him quite in their home match but he will be a different goat to tame in the Camp Nou. He has scored 22 goals in 31 matches against English opponents in this competition which is a record in itself, also 13 of those goals have come in his last 9 games against English opponents in Camp Nou. This stat itself looks ominous for Man United. If you consider the fact that Barcelona haven’t been defeated at Camp Nou for 30 games since 2013, you surely would think its game over for Manchester United who would be trying to overturn a 1-0 home leg deficit in Camp Nou.

Mission Impossible indeed.

Liverpool

Recent form in EPL – WWWWW
Nobody predicted Liverpool would be playing the final against Real Madrid last season. In the 2017-18 Semi Final, nobody gave Liverpool a chance against a formidable Manchester City side who had been taking EPL by storm and winning it with record points (100 points) and goals (106), most wins (32), most away points (50), most points ahead of the second placed team (19), best goal difference (+79) and most consecutive victories (18). Manchester City also equalized the record of wrapping up the league in record time left (5 games left). Now if you are pitted against a side who played in the same league, of course nobody would give you a chance.

But Liverpool had time and again proved to be the Kryptonite of a Man City team full of Supermen. They took their domestic dominance against City to Europe and won against all odds to reach the final against Real Madrid. If only Mohammad Salah had not been injured in the first half itself, who knows Liverpool might have actually won the trophy. But it was not to be and they seem to be on a mission to go one step further this time and actually win it.

Liverpool blew aside Porto in their Quarter Final first leg. Although a 2-0 scoreline doesn’t do justice to the dominance Liverpool showed against Porto in the match. It seems highly unlikely that Porto could overturn the loss and go further than this stage at Liverpool’s expense.

The smart money is always on Liverpool to march further without much difficulty.

Manchester City

Recent form in EPL – WWWWW
Manchester City and PSG are two unsolved enigmas of this competition. They both seem to dominate their respective leagues in recent seasons and still fall very short of expectations in Europe. It is almost as if they are cursed for life when it comes to the biggest European club competition. Last season City were a monster in EPL as mentioned earlier; but this season they have found their equal in Liverpool who are going neck and neck for the EPL title. City still can win it on their own if they manage to see off the Manchester derby and ever strong Spurs side on their way to domestic glory. This leaves them with all to play for in the Champions League with a Quarter Final first leg loss of 1-0 to Spurs.

Despite the loss, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are favourites to win the return fixture and reach the Semi Finals at the expense of Spurs, who will be without their talismanic striker, Harry Kane. Spurs were handed his injury blow in the first leg and he is doubtful for the rest of the season for them.

This factor alone makes a huge difference in the tie and swings the balance towards Manchester City side. They however can’t feel complacent and have to fight tooth and nail to snatch a victory against a Spurs side who will throw everything they had at them.

Playing at home would be one of the biggest advantages for City. In the absence of Harry Kane one can be forgiven to expect this to be an open affair. Mauricio Pochettino is most likely to set his team up in a solid defensive shape to hold out City attack and hit on the counter with the pace of Son and Lucas Moura with Eriksen pulling the strings from the midfield. However, the bench strength and unique pressing and possession style of play by City could see off this threat by Spurs and carry themselves forward to the Semi Final.

But it surely is going to be an uphill task.

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