The first legs of the quarterfinals last week set the scene nicely for the return fixtures this week, with all but one of the ties looking sealed up – Real Madrid sitting comfortably in their clash against Borussia Dortmund after their 3-0 victory at the Bernabeu. The all-Spanish clash between Madrid rivals and Atletico and Barcelona, as well as the repeat of the 1999 final between holders Bayern and Manchester United ended in draws favouring the away side, but everything is all to play for. PSG’s trip to Stamford Bridge will be one of damage limitation, you feel, with the French leaders looking to defend a 3-1 win in order to progress to the last four of the competition for the first time in a long time.
Champions League Odds
Bayern Munich 13/8
Real Madrid 9/4
Atletico Madrid 12/1
Manchester United 33/1
Borussia Dortmund 250/1
Bayern, winners of the competition last season and looking in formidable form with Pep Guardiola at the helm once again, are at this stage the favourites to become the first team since the inception of the Champions League era to retain their crown as European Champions. Many are looking forward to a final between the German giants and Carlo Ancelotti’s Real side, who are desperate to land their tenth European title, but at this stage of the tournament, and especially at the semifinals stage, all of the sides are strong enough to win on the day. PSG at 8/1 is decent value, with their dominant lead over Chelsea after the first leg probably enough to get them through to the last four.
Borussia Dortmund (23/10 and 25/1 to qualify) will have it all to do to get up over Real Madrid (6/5 and 1/100 to qualify) after their 3-0 defeat, and the fairytale run that took them to the final last year is unlikely to be repeated this year. Nonetheless, the Germans will have nothing to lose going into this game, and will want to give it everything, possibly leaving gaps at the back for Real to exploit.
Tuesday’s other fixture pits Chelsea (17/20 and 11/4 to qualify) and PSG (7/2 and 1/4 to qualify) in the game that will garner the most attention on the night. Jose Mourinho’s men need a 2-0 victory to make it to the next round, with their away goal form last week possibly proving crucial for this tie. PSG haven’t been this close to reaching the last four in a very long time, and Blanc’s job will be to manage those nerves; even though several of the players in his star-studded squad have seen this kind of action all before. It will be an important litmus test for the French Champions, however.
Atletico Madrid (12/5 and 23/20 to qualify) have had a great season with Diego Simeone in charge; they are still at the top of La Liga and, after their draw in Barcelona (6/5 and 8/11 to qualify) last week, are in great shape to knock the former champions out. Barcelona have been in this position before, though, and will look no further than their comeback against Milan last year, where they came back from a 2-0 first leg disadvantage to get through in style, winning the second leg 4-0. This time it will be slightly different, with Martino’s men not being able to count on the support of the Camp Nou faithful to help them over the line. This will be an interesting challenge for the Blaugrana, who will be looking to exert as much pressure as possible on Atletico, who as a squad, have much less experience in these stages of the competition. The most difficult one of the four to predict, but the odds lean in favour of a punt for the home side.
Though these two sides played out to the same result as the Spanish derby last week, Bayern Munich (1/4 and 1/9 to qualify) are overwhelming favourites against Manchester United (11/1 and 6/1 to qualify). It will almost seem like an injustice to football should David Moyes manage a positive result in Munich. Bayern have shown that they are the most powerful club side on the planet so far this season, winning the domestic title by March, which is in stark contrast to the form shown by the Manchester side, who will fail to qualify for the competition next season unless they win it. United showed last week that they are capable of keeping up with the reigning champions, but it will require a performance for the ages to progress to the next round. It’s still just 90 minutes of football, however, and anything is always possible. Their 1-1 draw at Old Trafford allowed them to keep their foot in the door; whether they can force their way through remains to be seen. Don’t expect too many surprises in this one, though.
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