Champions League predictions: Lionel Messi drags Barcelona through, Manchester City sail into semi-finals

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Europe's premier club competition reaches the quarter-final stage and we take out our crystal balls to see who makes the last four

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUARTER-FINAL PREDICTIONS: (All kick-offs 11pm UAE time) Wednesday; Atalanta v Paris Saint-Germain - A potential banana skin in PSG's desperate battle to lift European club football's most prestigious trophy. The ultra-wealthy French club should be overwhelming favourites to win this. They have just secured a domestic treble and are now chasing a quadruple, have the most expensive footballer of all time - €222m (Dh904m) Neymar - in their team and have spent €1bn in less than a decade in their pursuit of European Cup glory. Atalanta, meanwhile, are playing in their first Champions League with a squad put together at a fraction of the cost. But the Italians just keep on surprising on the domestic and European fronts and should not be underestimated. Prediction: Atalanta 1 PSG 3 (AET). Reuters

Thursday; RB Leipzig v Atletico Madrid - It has been a long wait to play this fixture due to the coronavirus lockdown, with both teams having secured their quarter-final places back in March by knocking out English opposition. Leipzig made short work of Jose Mourinho's Tottenham, winning home and away to secure a 4-0 aggregate win. Diego Simeone's Spanish side also did the double, only they managed to knock out holders Liverpool 4-2 over two legs. Both teams also finished third in their respective leagues once the seasons restarted. Atletico have seen their preparations disrupted by having two players test positive for Covid-19, while Leipzig have lost star player Timo Werner to Premier League Chelsea. A tough one to call. Prediction: Leipzig 1 Atletico 2. Getty

Friday; Barcelona v Bayern Munich - A clash of European Titans sees the kings of Catalonia take on Bavaria's big guns. Going by domestic form alone, Bayern should be favourites here having secured a second double on the trot, while Barca endured a rare trophyless season in Spain and Argentine star turn Lionel Messi showing signs of unhappiness with the club's direction. In Messi and Robert Lewandowski, this game sees two prolific goalscorers go head-to head. The pair have notched 84 times in all competitions, with the Polish striker breaking the 50-goal barrier. A close one, but Messi's relentless brilliance will drag Barca over the line. Prediction: Barca 3 Bayern 2. Reuters

Saturday; Manchester City v Lyon - Is this finally the year that City break their Champions League duck? Home and away wins over Spanish champions Real Madrid - separated by almost six months of a pandemic-enforced break - in the last-16 suggest that Pep Guardiola's side are ready to step up in Europe. Lyon, though, showed they are capable of knocking out heavyweight opposition when they defeated Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus in the last round on away goals. But City look in fine fettle and this should be one step too far for the French side. Prediction: City 3 Lyon 0. Reuters

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Gareth Cox

Aug 12, 2020

August 12, 2020

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After a coronavirus-enforced extended tournament, we are now down to the final eight of the Champions League – a mammoth 414 days after the first preliminary qualifying round match.

And, also due to the pandemic, the quarter-finals will be decided during a whirlwind four games in as many days in Lisbon, with the usual two legs discarded for one knockout match.

Benfica's Estadio da Luz will host two games, with Atalanta against Paris Saint-Germain taking place on Wednesday, then a potentially epic battle between Barcelona and Bayern Munich on Friday.

The other two games kick-off at Sporting Lisbon's Estadio Jose Alvalade and sees RB Leipzig take on Atletico Madrid on Thursday, followed by Manchester City versus Lyon on Saturday.

Whoever is victorious in that latter match will take on the winner of Barca and Bayern in the last four next Wednesday, at the Estadio Jose Alvalade. The other semi-final will be at the Estadio da Luz on Tuesday.

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Updated: August 12, 2020 03:45 PM

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