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 twice.
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 decided.
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 their performance.
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 tournament.
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 matchup.
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 tournament.
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 enjoy.