The first round of Champions League quarterfinals matches provided suspense, as well as a bunch of surprises. Real Madrid, Schalke 04 and FC Barcelona all seem to have heavy advantages ahead of their respective return-leg encounters on Tuesday and Wednesday; but perhaps, their qualification into the semifinals is not as openly guaranteed as one might think.
Well, it is in such moments that tough bets are hard to make, and in this article, we look at 10 bold predictions ahead of the upcoming Champions League action, starting with the Manchester United vs Chelsea match.
Torres has yet to prove his worth as a striker in the Chelsea football team. Since his landing at the club late in the January transfer window, the Spanish striker has not managed to get his name on the scoring sheet in any contest for the Blues.
But there is, however, more that the Londoners’ fans would want to see him achieve in the team due to his exorbitant price tag.
In the first leg of the fixture between Chelsea and Manchester United, Torres was nothing more than a flop, and considering the fact that he ended his game at the weekend on a goalless note, it makes sense to believe that the former Liverpool forward will bounce back at the Old Trafford on Tuesday night against the Red Devils.
If asked whether Torres will really get a goal against the Premier League leaders, one could boldly answer: yes.
It is usual for Messi to suffer injuries at crucial points of his seasons. Knowing this, Barca coach Pep Guardiola would do well to rest him against Shakhtar Donetsk away from home ahead of this weekend’s Clasico against Real Madrid.
Nevertheless, should the Ukrainians show too much resilience, determination and efficiency, the manager is likely to send in his precious No.10 talisman so as to empower his side with stability.
If ever this happens, it could be regrettably costly for the Spanish giants, who could sadly lose their Argentinean ace to a demoralizing injury. This scenario is in fact not so far from reality, and it will thus be up to the Catalans to think twice and make the right decisions during their match.
At this point, Chelsea’s run in the Champions League is nearing an end, and tragedy could inevitably fall upon the Blues through an epic performance from English striker Wayne Rooney.
The Manchester United attacker is obviously capable of rising to the occasion on Tuesday evening, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he finished up his first-leg toil in a historic manner by making the “impossible”: scoring a hat trick.
After all, the Red Devils will be fighting in their home, and taking into account Chelsea’s numerous weaknesses this season, anything could happen at the Theatre of Dreams. Most likely, it will be anything in favour of the hosts—if it is worth specifying.
In the case where neither Rooney nor his front helpers succeed in stealing the show at the Old Trafford, then Chelsea would have big chances of narrowly dominating their opponents.
A 1-0 victory will actually be enough for the Blues to push the game to extra time, where luck might be key in deciding the match’s eventual winner.
On Oct., 20, 2010, Gareth Bale took away the humiliation from Tottenham at the San Siro in their Champions League group stage match against Inter Milan by scoring a late hat trick, despite being 4-0 down earlier on.
Last week, Spurs went down by four goals to nil at the Bernabeu Stadium against Real Madrid; but presumably, it is safe to believe that—with the valuable help of his team mates—Bale will explode at the White Hart Lane to lead his side to a stunning comeback against Los Blancos.
If Tottenham Hotspur get another bad day on Wednesday against Real Madrid, their midfielder Sandro is very much likely to be among those to suffer the most punishment.
The Brazil international is a highly aggressive player who never hesitates to tackle players in possession. Although he often escapes bookings, his next challenge might not leave him with the best of memories.
FC Barcelona are normally expected to keep on the bench their best players against Shakhtar Donetsk for their bigger moment this weekend against Real Madrid, in El Clasico. However, Pep Guardiola could rather go for an outlandish decision and risk his playmakers’ health by fear of being stunned by the Ukrainians.
The manager told his club’s official website prior to his home test against Almeria on Saturday, "Everyone wanted Schalke 04 in the quarterfinals of the (UEFA) Champions League, and look what happened against Inter (5-2 triumph for the Germans).
“Nobody thought that Sporting (Gijon) would come away with anything at Real Madrid and they won 1-0. I would rather be prudent than come up short."
A surprising 5-2 home defeat to Schalke in the first leg now downgrades Inter Milan to the level of underdogs ahead of their return-leg encounter in Germany. In view of the Royal Blues’ away advantage, the home crowd on Wednesday evening will have reasons to foresee a qualification into following stage of the Champions League.
Nonetheless, great cautious will be required on their behalf, as Leonardo’s men might not be ready to concede as many goals this time around.
Almost certainly, a display of champions is what the Italian giants will hope to put on the pitch in search of a desired win on aggregate.
Clashes between Manchester United and Chelsea are not always very peaceful, and we are probably are all aware of how angrily manager Ferguson tends to defend his team when the officiating isn’t bending at the profit of his club.
Needless to say, the referee’s pocket in Tuesday night’s match at the Old Trafford will not be empty.
Back in December 2008, the then-Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal controversially disallowed for handball against Tottenham—in a match that ended 0-0. There were debates over the genuineness of the referee’s decision to overrule the Portuguese’s goal, but in the end, it was the official’s judgment that remained final.
Ronaldo comes face to face once again against Spurs on Wednesday evening, and having already scored in the first leg, his on-field temperament could be tested this time with a disallowed goal—more or less authentic from the referee’s prospect.