- UEFA Champions League quarter-finals begin on Wednesday in Lisbon, Portugal
- Manchester City face Lyon looking to reach last four for first time, as Bayern and Barca face-off in heavyweight clash
- Atalanta meet PSG in mouth-watering tie, whilst Atletico Madrid seek another semi-final spot versus RB Leipzig
LISBON, PORTUGAL – As the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals begin on Wednesday, Manchester City will be seeking a last-four berth for the first time.
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After the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals were wrapped up on Tuesday evening in Germany, next comes the turn of the Champions League last eight beginning on Wednesday night.
Taking place in Libson stretched over four nights in the Portuguese capital, one-off ties will decide the line-ups for the next week’s semi-finals.
With four games each retaining a unique ingredient, the last eight is poised to be unlike anything the competition has offered before. Here’s what’s on the menu.
Kicking the quarter-finals off on Wednesday, Champions League debutantes this season Atalanta face one-time semi-finalists Paris Saint-Germain in a game that could steal the last eight show.
As two sides that play fluid, attacking, caution-to-the-wind football, the Estadio da Luz will be the perfect stage to illuminate the competition.
For La Dea, Gian Piero Gasperini‘s side have won many admirers for their approach for the last few seasons in Italy, indeed the Bergamascos scored 98 goals in Serie A this term, 22 more than Scudetto winners Juventus.
Boasting an attacking line of Duvan Zapata, Papu Gomez, super-sub Luis Muriel and the rise most recently of Ruslan Malinovskyi, Atalanta have become the darlings of European football for their aesthetic style.
PSG meanwhile have their own agenda in their quest for an unprecedented quadruple.
Winning all three domestic trophies, Les Parisiens will make history should they lift the trophy and boasting Mauro Icardi, a fresh Neymar, an emerging Pablo Sarabia and a system with flair, PSG are a real threat.
Both teams however, will be without their respective top scorers. PSG are almost certain to line up without the injured Kylian Mbappe, whilst Josip Ilicic is set to be absent once more, having missed the final weeks of the Serie A campaign due to personal issues.
Furthermore for the French side, Marco Verratti is injured, whilst Angel di Maria is suspended.
Despite this however, both have been free-scoring in the their respective domestic campaigns and their key absentees are unlikely to change the plot.
Atalanta qualified for this stage with a 4-4 draw with Valencia (winning 8-4 on aggregate) and there could be more fireworks on show here. If you watch one quarter-final, this is it.
Simeone eyes last four again
The following night sees two-time runners-up Atletico Madrid face new boys RB Leipzig on the opposite side of Lisbon at Estadio Jose Alvalade.
As conquerors of European champions Liverpool in the last round, Los Coloncheros will fancy their chances of another last four berth having been runners-up in both 2014 and 2016 to city rivals Real Madrid.
After masterminding an Anfield defeat of the Reds, Diego Simeone will now be eyeing another semi spot after a reaching this stage for the fifth time in seven seasons – a feat only two other sides have bettered in the same period.
With the prodigious Joao Felix in their ranks, the Portuguese has yet to hit a consistent streak on form this term, but on home turf may feel more at home and ready to impress, ably supported by the wily Saul and operator-in-chief Koke.
Leipzig’s tale has been largely written by Timo Werner en-route to this stage, but with their goal machine having now swapped Germany for England, Julian Nagelsmann‘s side will be looking for inspiration elsewhere.
Patrik Schick is likely to given the responsibility of breaking down the Spaniards here, though behind him Marcel Sabitzer and Christopher Nkunku are capable of unlocking the Atletico defence, as is the Spaniard’s own compatriot Dani Olmo.
Of all four games this could be the tightest and Simeone will like it just that way. Having taken the scalp of the defending champions, could it be third time lucky for Atletico this season?
Each last eight tie has its’ own narrative and the case is no less true in Barcelona’s meeting with Bayern Munich, as former European champions collide.
After dismantling Chelsea 7-1 in the first knockout round, Die Roten are now strong contenders to win their first European Cup in seven years. Standing in their way however, are the Catalan giants.
Though La Blaugrana may have surrendered the La Liga crown to Real Madrid earlier this summer, the Lionel Messi factor holds more than enough ammunition.
Bayern have been scintillating since Hansie Flick took over the reins in Bavaria and whose front line of top scorer Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman and Thomas Muller continue to torment defences.
In a rematch of their 2015 semi-final meeting, this is being billed as tie of the round and it is hard to dispute the heavyweight nature of this match-up.
Barcelona remain somewhat is transition under new boss Quique Setien, and against Napoli in the last-16 looked a little shaky defensively. Bayern look poised to exploit that in a role-call of European football’s big name players.
City seek maiden semi berth
Last to the step up to the quarter-final plate in Lisbon are Manchester City, who after toppling Real Madrid are now marginal favourites to win the competition later this month.
Reaching the quarter-finals for the third years on the bounce, the Citizens will be odds-on here to exorcise the demons of last April, when Tottenham Hotspur stunned Pep Guardiola‘s men to win a remarkable second leg in Manchester.
Raheem Sterling has returned to goal-scoring form at a pivotal time for the Citizens, with Gabriel Jesus in tandem now having scored in back-to-back European games.
For Lyon, after knocking out Juventus in Turin last Friday night, Rudi Garcia‘s men can be forgiven for feeling a hint of confidence ahead of the clash with City.
With Memphis Depay‘s spot-kick proving decisive against the 1996 winners, l’OM’s rear-guard action against the Old Lady will have opened many an eye.
City’s less direct, more thoughtful approach also will see the French side looking to shut down their Premier League opposition and having taken four points from them in last season’s Group stages also, Lyon will be eyeing another upset.
Guardiola has won the Champions League on two occasions as a manager already and will surely see this as City’s best chance for European glory in a one-off arena. Lyon will be no pushovers, but there should be English representation in the next week’s semi-finals, with City breaking their last four duck.
The quarter-finals of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League begin on Wednesday night, as Atalanta face Paris Saint-Germain at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, kick-off 20:00 UK time.
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