Early finals are set to kick-off this week after a busy international 10 day break. Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Dortmund suffered surprising defeats right before they started preparations for the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. The remaining five teams did fairly well with the highlight of Diogo Jota returning to his early-season form to help Liverpool destroy Arsenal 3-0 away from home. If you missed it, here is NMA’s article on the UCL draw.
MATCH-DAY 9 MATCH PREVIEW
April 6 & 7:
Real Madrid vs Liverpool: The Spanish giants had the upper hand in their last meeting against Liverpool in the UCL final in 2018. Liverpool bounced back a year later to win the UCL in 2019 but did not face Real Madrid in the process. Zinedine Zidane returned to winning ways and was not affected by the international break as he cruised to a 2-0 victory over Eiber in La Liga to temporarily occupy second place, just 3 points behind neighbors Atletico Madrid. Liverpool traveled to London to face Arsenal in EPL GW-30. The man of the match was none other than Diogo Jota coming onto the pitch at he 61st minute to score and assist.
Recommended areas of selection: With both teams allowing goals recently, goalkeepers and defenders should be avoided in principal. Wing-backs may be favored from the back line. All midfielders and forwards are in contention to perform well and score points.
Manchester City vs Dortmund: After knocking out Borussia Monchengladbach in the round of 16, Pep Guardiola drew another German club to face in the quarterfinals. The group stage of UCL 2013-14 version witnessed the only home and away meeting between the teams. Dortmund managed a draw and a win against the current EPL table leaders. Manchester City will be eager to record their first victory over Dortmund this Tuesday. Their hopes should be up in this regard with all the rumors constantly breaking out around Erling Haaland. Dortmund waiting for Marco Rose to take the helm this Summer could be better off without all the unsettling news surrounding them. They suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to Frankfurt (the latter continues to impress and should joing Wolfsburg, Leipzig and Bayern in next year’s UCL) while it was just another day in the office for Man City defeating Leicester to widen the gap at the top to 17 points.
Recommended areas of selection: Dortmund hit another rough patch during this season so Man City goalkeeper and defenders are great options. With Pep at the helm, selecting Man City players comes at a high risk.
Bayern Munich vs PSG: Bayern was affected the most during the international break with star Robert Lewandowski injured and not available for at least a couple of weeks. Bayern’s quality was still enough to see off their direct competitors RB Leipzig 1-0 away from home. It was the opposite for PSG when their meeting with 2nd-place Lille ended with a home loss to Neymar and company. The Brazilian was sent off at the end of the match for a second yellow for poor sportsmanship. It is going to be interesting to see how Flick is going to line-up against Mauricio Pochettino without his main man.
Recommended areas of selection: Even though both teams can record big victories, the first leg may be a repeat of last season’s UCL final where both teams were too careful. I would avoid depending on front line players and stick to midfielders as they will be making the difference.
Chelsea vs Porto: One red card is all it takes; Chelsea’s defense since Thomas Tuchel took over reminded me of an old Japanese reality show called “Takeshi’s castle” where the defenders won 99% of the time. Thiago Silva has become too slow, and this caused him to be booked twice in 29 minutes at home against the 19th-ranked team in EPL. Playing down a player is the worst case scenario for pressing style teams, so it left them in unknown territory where Chelsea allowed five goals. Porto started the last and longest stretch of the season with a home 2-1 victory against Santa Clara. To avoid a repeat of what happened to Juventus in the round of 16 at the hands of the Portuguese champions, Chelsea must not succumb to the frustration of defeat .
Recommended areas of selection: Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from the unexpected turn of events in EPL. If you figured out Tuchel’s favorite formation then take on as many players as you can.
Real Madrid: Sergio Ramos picked up a new injury and will miss the both legs against Liverpool along with Eden Hazard and Carvajal. Casemiro returns from suspension.
Liverpool: Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Origi remain the long term absentees while Henderson and Kelleher are doubtful.
Manchester City: Pep goes into the match with a clean bill of health.
Dortmund: Dortmund will be without Zagadou, Sancho and Witsel in the first leg.
Bayern Munich: Lewandowski will miss the first leg along with Tolisso and Douglas Costa.
PSG: Kurzawa joined the injured in PSG ranks including Icardi and Bernat.
Chelsea: Tuchel should have a clean bill of health going to the match with Porto with a few doubtful players such as Kante and Hudson-Odoi.
MATCHDAY 9 BUILD UP
My fellow UCL expert Prakhar will publish his view on player picks for MD-9 Sunday, and Chris will post a Rate My Team article on Monday, and you may keep coming back here for tactics chat and questions. And of course, I will be posting the UCL Live Chat article early Tuesday — be sure to join in!.
What’s on your mind as you shift gears from league play? Do you have any substitution dilemmas? Need help deciding where to move your captain’s arm-band? Have you started shopping for quarterfinal transfers? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!