UpdatedFriday, January 25, 2019
The 2018-19 Champions League has moved past the knockout
stage and into the quarter-finals. We discuss the details of Europe’s biggest
tournament, the match highlights that got us here, and what you can expect out
of the next round of fixtures.
Quick Overview of 2018-19 Champions League
Outside of the World Cup, the Champions League is probably
the highest regarded soccer tournament globally. Pitting the top Club teams
from around Europe against each other, winning the tournament holds the highest
of honor. For many clubs, winning a Champions League cup is arguably a higher
priority than winning their own domestic league.
The tournament takes place over the
course of 8-9 months, starting in the fall and concluding in the spring of the
following year. During the knockout stage, 32 teams are paired into 4 team
groups, with the top two advancing on points total after playing each other
While the knockout stage is exciting, the true drama of the
Champions League comes once the quarter-finals start, which is where we find
ourselves at the start of 2019. The top soccer players in the world are on display
for the world to watch. Let’s review the action that has gotten us here, talk
about the teams remaining and marquee matches upcoming, and identify who has
the best chance of winning.
How We Got Here
The 2018-2019 Champions League knockout stage wasn’t short
on excitement, with several groups coming down to the final Match Day to be
Shocking to many, Porto ended up with the most points out of
any team, finishing with 16. This is most likely a byproduct of being in what
was by far the easiest group. But nonetheless, Porto performed wonderful and
moved on to the next round.
Barcelona and Manchester City ran away with their respective
groups, finishing 6 points and 5 points above the second place team
respectively. They are both clear favorites moving into the quarter-finals.
On the flip side, both Tottenham and Liverpool barely
squeaked through into the quarter-final stage. Tottenham, who looked to be
finished after the first 3 games, came back from all odds, and made it through
with a tying goal against Barcelona in the final minutes of the game. Liverpool
needed a 1-0 victory against Napoli to Match Day 6 to advance.
Speaking of Napoli, they were very unlucky not to advance,
and played very well in a difficult group. Certainly the surprise performers of
the round of 32, there are a lot of positives their team can build on from
Lyon was perhaps to most surprising team to advance, rising
above Shakhtar Donetsk to go through. Needing a tie or win on Match Day 6, Lyon
completed a good run by gaining the needed point.
Let’s dive into the matchups for the 2018-2019 Champions League quarter-finals:
The Big Matchups
Some of Europe’s biggest clubs square off against each other
in the quarter-final stage of the Champions League.
Manchester United vs Paris St. Germaine
A matchup of two of Europe’s biggest clubs, this will
feature big name stars that are household names, such as Neymar and Alexis
Sanchez. Manchester United is playing surprisingly well, compared to their
domestic performance in the Premier League. On the other hand, PSG is running
away with Ligue 1 in France.
Liverpool vs Bayern Munich
Another heavyweight match up from two of Europe’s most
notable clubs, this one takes on a different approach. Liverpool, last year’s
Champions League darlings, is trying to replicate last years results that led
them all the way to the finals. However, they did not impress in the group
stages thus far.
Bayern Munich is looking to avenge last year’s semifinal
loss to Real Madrid, who has gotten the better of them in Champions League the
last two years. They didn’t get an easy draw in the quarter-finals this year,
and this could be the most compelling matchup of the lot.
The Intriguing Matchups
While not necessarily the biggest clubs in Europe, these
matchups are some of the most exciting and interesting of the quarterfinals.
Tottenham vs Borussia Dortmund
A fun matchup of two evenly matched teams, Tottenham and
Dortmund match up very well against each other. Dortmund is in fine form,
winning their group while simultaneously sitting atop in the German Bundisliga.
Tottenham, on the other hand, should feel very fortunate to still be in the
However, don’t count Tottenham out just yet. These teams
faced each other in the knockout stage of last year’s Champions League, with
Tottenham getting the better of Dortmund each time. This should be an exciting
Atletico Madrid vs Juventus
Another fun matchup, Atletico Madrid and Juventus features
two teams that are far more defensive focused than many others in the tournament.
These two were matched up against each other in the knockout stage several
years ago, and there were only a total of 2 goals scored across the two games.
Roma vs Porto
The two teams no one is talking about, Roma and Porto square
off in a quarter-final clash that could surprise people. Roma shocked the world
last year with their 3-0 second leg defeat of Barcelona to advance on to the
semifinals, but had a relatively quiet group stage performance this year.
Porto, as alluded to earlier, skated through their group
stage, but doubts remain about their side given how easy the group was. This
matchup will give both sides an opportunity to cement their presence in the
The Lopsided Matchups
While no fixture is a given in soccer, these matchups
certainly represent mismatched teams with a clear favorite.
Ajax vs Real Madrid
On paper, Real Madrid is the dominant club, with trophies
galore in their treasure chest. Winners of the last two Champions League, they
are odds on favorite to move past Ajax. However, it’s hard to ignore that Real
Madrid are not playing well, both domestically and in Europe. Ajax, unbeaten in
the knockout stage, could surprise Madrid in this quarter-final clash.
Barcelona vs Lyon
While both teams were undefeated in the knockout stage,
tournament favorites Barcelona should have a relatively easy time advancing
past an upstart Lyon club. Barcelona features its usual cast of all stars, led
by Messi, and will look to avenge the last two years of disappointing exits
from the Champions League.
Schalke 04 vs Manchester City
Its hard to see a situation where Schalke 04 make it past
Manchester City in this matchup. Currently sitting at 12th place in
the Bundisliga, Schalke 04 will go up against a Manchester City side that is
arguably the best club in the world. Manchester City dominated in the knockout
stage and there is no reason they won’t do so in this matchup.
The Champions League brings together Europe’s top clubs and
best players in an exciting, tournament-style round of fixtures. Whether your
team is playing in the quarter-finals or not, there is a lot of soccer to