Champions League 2014: Complete Quarter-Finals Predictions

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Champions League 2014: Complete Quarter-Finals Predictions
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Can Cristiano Ronaldo come out on top against Borussia Dortmund.

The Champions League returns on Tuesday and Wednesday for the quarter-final first-leg ties, and what a mouth-watering set of fixtures we have in prospect.

We are guaranteed to have at least one Spanish team in the semi-finals with the top two in La Liga, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, facing off against each other.

Real Madrid will also fancy their chances of progression against a decimated Borussia Dortmund side.

Manchester United face the toughest test against Pep Guardiola's unbelievably consistent Bayern Munich side, whilst Guardiola's old foe Jose Mourinho sees his Chelsea side up against runaway French Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint Germain.

It promises to be two nights of high-quality football action.

 

Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid

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This will be the fourth time the two teams have met this season, and there is no splitting them so far.

What a battle we have in store at Camp Nou.

Barcelona take on an Atletico Madrid side that are setting the pace in La Liga and have proved to everyone that they have the staying power this year to see them challenging for honours at the business end of the season. 

Apart from one draw, Diego Simeone's side have won every single Champions League tie that they have played this season, per WhoScored.com.

They bring a physical presence to every game that often unsettles the opposition.

In Diego Costa, Atleti possess one of the form players in the competition. Given half the chance he will prove problematic to both Javier Mascherano and Gerard Pique throughout.

The high ball into the box has always been a particular concern for Barca; more so now in Victor Valdes' absence. 

Jose Manuel Pinto's propensity to punch the ball rather than catch it may need to be reined in a little as Costa will mop up any loose balls.

Barca need calm at the back and a solid base from which to build, not a headless chicken approach.

Key to proceedings will be which Lionel Messi turns up.

Atleti are yet to face a fully-fit Messi this season but he is not only fit and raring to go, his 12 goals in the last 14 games, and 22 since the turn of the year, show what great goalscoring form he is in.

No one in Europe's top five leagues comes close to that ratio, per WhoScored

Prediction: 2-1

 

Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich

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Arjen Robben settled the tie last time these two teams met.

Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben has noted that not too many people are giving David Moyes' Manchester United side a hope of coming out of this two-legged tie against the German champions with a win.

However, Robben isn't of the same opinion per BBC Sport:

It's going to be a tough duel and we've got to watch out. The media and public opinion is that Manchester are not in good shape and that we're going through to the semis, but I don't like that at all.

You only need to get distracted for a second and you lose against Manchester United.

Moyes hasn't enjoyed the best start to his Old Trafford managerial career of course. By contrast, Pep Guardiola has just taken Bayern to the Bundesliga title in record time, and unbeaten, per DW.de.

The Bavarians have only lost to Manchester City in this year's Champions League group stages, as well as last year to Arsenal, where the Germans progressed on away goals. They remain unbeaten in all other competitions.

Bayern are such a well-oiled machine that it's hard to pick any weaknesses in their team and as Toni Kroos showed against Arsenal, they have one of the best players in the world in their side.

One capable of dictating the entire evening's play from his advanced midfield role.

For United, much of the responsibility will fall on Wayne Rooney's shoulders. Moyes' talisman must seek to unsettle the Bayern back-line with his mixture of sublime skill and good old-fashioned brute force.

Whether his shift will be enough to give United the advantage heading to Germany is debatable, with Bayern only conceding 22 goals in the Bundesliga and Champions League combined, per WhoScored.

Prediction: 0-3

 

Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund

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Borussia Dortmund have many of their star players injured.

Carlo Ancelotti's side took all before them in the last round against another German side, Schalke.

Cristiano Ronaldo in particular has enjoyed a fine tournament so far and is just two goals away from equalling the best-ever total in a Champions League or European Cup campaign.

The current record of 14 is jointly held by Lionel Messi and Jose Altafini, per UEFA.com.

With Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema all in excellent form, Dortmund's back four will have their work cut out to contain them for the full 90 minutes.

Indeed, with Robert Lewandowski suspended and many players on the injury table, Jurgen Klopp's Dortmund come into the game minus many of their star names.

Although Lewandowski is "annoyed" at missing the first leg, per NewStraitsTimes, he is confident of a result over the two legs:

I have driven myself crazy over the annoying yellow card and hope that we leave Madrid with a good result.
   
Then I’d be even more motivated for the return leg—I have had a good experience against Real.
   
I believe that we can still go through, even if Real are the favourites and are in top form.

To have any chance of going through the Germans need to score an away goal or two in Lewandowski's absence, whilst simultaneously neutralising the threat from the "BBC."

Schalke, Juventus and Galatasaray have all scored at the Santiago Bernabeu, per WhoScored, but they all have been put to the sword at the other end of the pitch.

If Mats Hummels et al keep it tight, then Dortmund have a puncher's chance.

Prediction: 3-0

 

Paris Saint-Germain vs Chelsea

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Can Jose Mourinho mastermind a win over Zlatan Ibrahimovich's PSG side?

Losing against Crystal Palace at the weekend might just have been the best thing to have happened to Jose Mourinho's side.

Not only the loss, but the manner of the same, will surely have given everyone at Stamford Bridge some food for thought and focused the mind on the much stiffer test that the Blues will face in Paris.

During this Premier League season, John Terry and Gary Cahill have been excellent throughout with Metro columnist Pete Sharland noting:

The two English players are rock solid though and they complement each other extremely well.

[...] they make a very strong case for being one of the best central defensive pairings in English, if not world, football. 

Both will need to use all of their defensive nous to curtail the twin goalscoring threat of Zlatan Ibrahimovich and Edinson Cavani, however, PSG bring attacking excellence from the midfield areas too.

Recently signed from Newcastle, Yohan Cabaye has dovetailed well with Javier Pastore and Thiago Motta and all three are comfortable with a roving patrol which makes them difficult to mark and pick up.

Eden Hazard gives Chelsea that little extra something. If he can get at Marquinhos in the PSG back line from the off it may give the Londoners hope of an unlikely result.

Prediction: 2-1

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