Blog

The fateful eight

As the Champions League whittles down to the final eight, Simon Hart returns to cast his eye over the quarter-finals

WORDS Simon Hart

Talking point: Madrid aim to avoid Chelsea repeat

Déjà vu may be a French expression but Real Madrid are eager to avoid it in their Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea – the team who slammed the door shut on them in this competition last season.

Indeed, each of Los Merengues’ two previous European campaigns has ended at the hands – or rather feet – of English opposition. In 2020, it was Manchester City who eliminated them in the round of 16. In 2021, it was Chelsea at the semi-final stage, Thomas Tuchel’s team drawing 1-1 in the Spanish capital before a 2-0 success at Stamford Bridge.

In that latter contest, Madrid could not handle Chelsea’s speed on the transition from defence to attack. N’Golo Kanté – Man of the Match in both legs – was particularly influential with his ceaseless work rate, runs with the ball and simple but superbly effective passing. To counter this threat, it has been speculated that Fede Valverde will come into the Madrid side to bring energy to a midfield that has looked leggy of late.

Chelsea coach Tuchel offers their followers another bright omen with his personal record of never having lost to Madrid as a manager (W2, D4) though his side had a notable stumble at Stamford Bridge last Saturday when going down 4-1 to Brentford – their first home loss since September, and first loss of any kind to their fellow west London club since 1939.

That results was all the more striking when you consider that the reigning European champions are on a six-match run without conceding at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League. To extend it to seven on Wednesday, they must succeed in keeping Karim Benzema quiet. The Frenchman scored in the sides’ semi-final encounter last year and with his double against Celta last weekend moved on to 34 goals from 35 matches this term – a scoring rate of 0.95 per game.

Zinedine Zidane and Thomas Tuchel meet again.

Player watch: Joao Felix

Of all the Atlético de Madrid squad, only Antoine Griezmann (four) has managed more than a single goal so far in the current Champions League campaign. By contrast, Manchester City have six players with two goals or more. Yet the forward that Pep Guardiola’s men must arguably watch most closely is João Félix, the Portuguese whose fine headed effort against City’s neighbours Manchester United in the last round was illustrative of his recent explosion of confidence. He has been Atleti’s best attacker of late with six goals in his last six Liga outings – all of them won by Diego Simeone’s resurgent Spanish titleholders.  

Number: 0

Nil. Zero. Nothing. This is the number which has appeared, more often than not, beside the opposition’s name when Liverpool’s recent results have been read out. Since a 2-2 draw at Chelsea on 2 January, Liverpool have played 19 matches and kept 13 clean sheets. Away from Anfield, they have produced six successive clean sheets. This suggests a formidable challenge awaits a Benfica side seeking their first semi-final since 1990. So too does the Reds’ recent record in Portugal where they have hit five, four and then five goals again on their last three trips – all against Porto. The recent evidence would suggest Benfica might well sit deep and look to hurt Liverpool on counterattacks. This, after all, is how they prevailed 1-0 at Ajax in the last round – a night on which a defence including veteran centre-backs Jan Vertonghen and Nicolás Otamendi made 40 clearances, with Vertonghen contributing 10 on his own.

And finally: Can Emery engineer another upset?

Villarreal may have won 3-0 at Juventus last time out but they have only one victory to show from their last nine home matches (D5, L3) in the Champions League (from group stage onwards) ahead of hosting Bayern München in their first quarter-final tie in the competition since 2009. If that does not augur well against experienced opponents competing at this stage for the 10th time in 11 seasons, nor does their 2-0 weekend home loss to lowly Levante. And yet here’s a positive omen for fans of the Spanish side: Unai Emery was the last coach to oversee a home win against Bayern in the Champions League, a 3-0 victory for Paris Saint-Germain in the 2017/18 group stage.

Talking point: Madrid aim to avoid Chelsea repeat

Déjà vu may be a French expression but Real Madrid are eager to avoid it in their Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea – the team who slammed the door shut on them in this competition last season.

Indeed, each of Los Merengues’ two previous European campaigns has ended at the hands – or rather feet – of English opposition. In 2020, it was Manchester City who eliminated them in the round of 16. In 2021, it was Chelsea at the semi-final stage, Thomas Tuchel’s team drawing 1-1 in the Spanish capital before a 2-0 success at Stamford Bridge.

In that latter contest, Madrid could not handle Chelsea’s speed on the transition from defence to attack. N’Golo Kanté – Man of the Match in both legs – was particularly influential with his ceaseless work rate, runs with the ball and simple but superbly effective passing. To counter this threat, it has been speculated that Fede Valverde will come into the Madrid side to bring energy to a midfield that has looked leggy of late.

Chelsea coach Tuchel offers their followers another bright omen with his personal record of never having lost to Madrid as a manager (W2, D4) though his side had a notable stumble at Stamford Bridge last Saturday when going down 4-1 to Brentford – their first home loss since September, and first loss of any kind to their fellow west London club since 1939.

That results was all the more striking when you consider that the reigning European champions are on a six-match run without conceding at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League. To extend it to seven on Wednesday, they must succeed in keeping Karim Benzema quiet. The Frenchman scored in the sides’ semi-final encounter last year and with his double against Celta last weekend moved on to 34 goals from 35 matches this term – a scoring rate of 0.95 per game.

Zinedine Zidane and Thomas Tuchel meet again.

Player watch: Joao Felix

Of all the Atlético de Madrid squad, only Antoine Griezmann (four) has managed more than a single goal so far in the current Champions League campaign. By contrast, Manchester City have six players with two goals or more. Yet the forward that Pep Guardiola’s men must arguably watch most closely is João Félix, the Portuguese whose fine headed effort against City’s neighbours Manchester United in the last round was illustrative of his recent explosion of confidence. He has been Atleti’s best attacker of late with six goals in his last six Liga outings – all of them won by Diego Simeone’s resurgent Spanish titleholders.  

Number: 0

Nil. Zero. Nothing. This is the number which has appeared, more often than not, beside the opposition’s name when Liverpool’s recent results have been read out. Since a 2-2 draw at Chelsea on 2 January, Liverpool have played 19 matches and kept 13 clean sheets. Away from Anfield, they have produced six successive clean sheets. This suggests a formidable challenge awaits a Benfica side seeking their first semi-final since 1990. So too does the Reds’ recent record in Portugal where they have hit five, four and then five goals again on their last three trips – all against Porto. The recent evidence would suggest Benfica might well sit deep and look to hurt Liverpool on counterattacks. This, after all, is how they prevailed 1-0 at Ajax in the last round – a night on which a defence including veteran centre-backs Jan Vertonghen and Nicolás Otamendi made 40 clearances, with Vertonghen contributing 10 on his own.

And finally: Can Emery engineer another upset?

Villarreal may have won 3-0 at Juventus last time out but they have only one victory to show from their last nine home matches (D5, L3) in the Champions League (from group stage onwards) ahead of hosting Bayern München in their first quarter-final tie in the competition since 2009. If that does not augur well against experienced opponents competing at this stage for the 10th time in 11 seasons, nor does their 2-0 weekend home loss to lowly Levante. And yet here’s a positive omen for fans of the Spanish side: Unai Emery was the last coach to oversee a home win against Bayern in the Champions League, a 3-0 victory for Paris Saint-Germain in the 2017/18 group stage.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Talking point: Madrid aim to avoid Chelsea repeat

Déjà vu may be a French expression but Real Madrid are eager to avoid it in their Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea – the team who slammed the door shut on them in this competition last season.

Indeed, each of Los Merengues’ two previous European campaigns has ended at the hands – or rather feet – of English opposition. In 2020, it was Manchester City who eliminated them in the round of 16. In 2021, it was Chelsea at the semi-final stage, Thomas Tuchel’s team drawing 1-1 in the Spanish capital before a 2-0 success at Stamford Bridge.

In that latter contest, Madrid could not handle Chelsea’s speed on the transition from defence to attack. N’Golo Kanté – Man of the Match in both legs – was particularly influential with his ceaseless work rate, runs with the ball and simple but superbly effective passing. To counter this threat, it has been speculated that Fede Valverde will come into the Madrid side to bring energy to a midfield that has looked leggy of late.

Chelsea coach Tuchel offers their followers another bright omen with his personal record of never having lost to Madrid as a manager (W2, D4) though his side had a notable stumble at Stamford Bridge last Saturday when going down 4-1 to Brentford – their first home loss since September, and first loss of any kind to their fellow west London club since 1939.

That results was all the more striking when you consider that the reigning European champions are on a six-match run without conceding at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League. To extend it to seven on Wednesday, they must succeed in keeping Karim Benzema quiet. The Frenchman scored in the sides’ semi-final encounter last year and with his double against Celta last weekend moved on to 34 goals from 35 matches this term – a scoring rate of 0.95 per game.

Zinedine Zidane and Thomas Tuchel meet again.

Player watch: Joao Felix

Of all the Atlético de Madrid squad, only Antoine Griezmann (four) has managed more than a single goal so far in the current Champions League campaign. By contrast, Manchester City have six players with two goals or more. Yet the forward that Pep Guardiola’s men must arguably watch most closely is João Félix, the Portuguese whose fine headed effort against City’s neighbours Manchester United in the last round was illustrative of his recent explosion of confidence. He has been Atleti’s best attacker of late with six goals in his last six Liga outings – all of them won by Diego Simeone’s resurgent Spanish titleholders.  

Number: 0

Nil. Zero. Nothing. This is the number which has appeared, more often than not, beside the opposition’s name when Liverpool’s recent results have been read out. Since a 2-2 draw at Chelsea on 2 January, Liverpool have played 19 matches and kept 13 clean sheets. Away from Anfield, they have produced six successive clean sheets. This suggests a formidable challenge awaits a Benfica side seeking their first semi-final since 1990. So too does the Reds’ recent record in Portugal where they have hit five, four and then five goals again on their last three trips – all against Porto. The recent evidence would suggest Benfica might well sit deep and look to hurt Liverpool on counterattacks. This, after all, is how they prevailed 1-0 at Ajax in the last round – a night on which a defence including veteran centre-backs Jan Vertonghen and Nicolás Otamendi made 40 clearances, with Vertonghen contributing 10 on his own.

And finally: Can Emery engineer another upset?

Villarreal may have won 3-0 at Juventus last time out but they have only one victory to show from their last nine home matches (D5, L3) in the Champions League (from group stage onwards) ahead of hosting Bayern München in their first quarter-final tie in the competition since 2009. If that does not augur well against experienced opponents competing at this stage for the 10th time in 11 seasons, nor does their 2-0 weekend home loss to lowly Levante. And yet here’s a positive omen for fans of the Spanish side: Unai Emery was the last coach to oversee a home win against Bayern in the Champions League, a 3-0 victory for Paris Saint-Germain in the 2017/18 group stage.

The fateful eight
Blog

The fateful eight

As the Champions League whittles down to the final eight, Simon Hart returns to cast his eye over the quarter-finals

WORDS Simon Hart

Talking point: Madrid aim to avoid Chelsea repeat

Déjà vu may be a French expression but Real Madrid are eager to avoid it in their Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea – the team who slammed the door shut on them in this competition last season.

Indeed, each of Los Merengues’ two previous European campaigns has ended at the hands – or rather feet – of English opposition. In 2020, it was Manchester City who eliminated them in the round of 16. In 2021, it was Chelsea at the semi-final stage, Thomas Tuchel’s team drawing 1-1 in the Spanish capital before a 2-0 success at Stamford Bridge.

In that latter contest, Madrid could not handle Chelsea’s speed on the transition from defence to attack. N’Golo Kanté – Man of the Match in both legs – was particularly influential with his ceaseless work rate, runs with the ball and simple but superbly effective passing. To counter this threat, it has been speculated that Fede Valverde will come into the Madrid side to bring energy to a midfield that has looked leggy of late.

Chelsea coach Tuchel offers their followers another bright omen with his personal record of never having lost to Madrid as a manager (W2, D4) though his side had a notable stumble at Stamford Bridge last Saturday when going down 4-1 to Brentford – their first home loss since September, and first loss of any kind to their fellow west London club since 1939.

That results was all the more striking when you consider that the reigning European champions are on a six-match run without conceding at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League. To extend it to seven on Wednesday, they must succeed in keeping Karim Benzema quiet. The Frenchman scored in the sides’ semi-final encounter last year and with his double against Celta last weekend moved on to 34 goals from 35 matches this term – a scoring rate of 0.95 per game.

Zinedine Zidane and Thomas Tuchel meet again.

Player watch: Joao Felix

Of all the Atlético de Madrid squad, only Antoine Griezmann (four) has managed more than a single goal so far in the current Champions League campaign. By contrast, Manchester City have six players with two goals or more. Yet the forward that Pep Guardiola’s men must arguably watch most closely is João Félix, the Portuguese whose fine headed effort against City’s neighbours Manchester United in the last round was illustrative of his recent explosion of confidence. He has been Atleti’s best attacker of late with six goals in his last six Liga outings – all of them won by Diego Simeone’s resurgent Spanish titleholders.  

Number: 0

Nil. Zero. Nothing. This is the number which has appeared, more often than not, beside the opposition’s name when Liverpool’s recent results have been read out. Since a 2-2 draw at Chelsea on 2 January, Liverpool have played 19 matches and kept 13 clean sheets. Away from Anfield, they have produced six successive clean sheets. This suggests a formidable challenge awaits a Benfica side seeking their first semi-final since 1990. So too does the Reds’ recent record in Portugal where they have hit five, four and then five goals again on their last three trips – all against Porto. The recent evidence would suggest Benfica might well sit deep and look to hurt Liverpool on counterattacks. This, after all, is how they prevailed 1-0 at Ajax in the last round – a night on which a defence including veteran centre-backs Jan Vertonghen and Nicolás Otamendi made 40 clearances, with Vertonghen contributing 10 on his own.

And finally: Can Emery engineer another upset?

Villarreal may have won 3-0 at Juventus last time out but they have only one victory to show from their last nine home matches (D5, L3) in the Champions League (from group stage onwards) ahead of hosting Bayern München in their first quarter-final tie in the competition since 2009. If that does not augur well against experienced opponents competing at this stage for the 10th time in 11 seasons, nor does their 2-0 weekend home loss to lowly Levante. And yet here’s a positive omen for fans of the Spanish side: Unai Emery was the last coach to oversee a home win against Bayern in the Champions League, a 3-0 victory for Paris Saint-Germain in the 2017/18 group stage.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Talking point: Madrid aim to avoid Chelsea repeat

Déjà vu may be a French expression but Real Madrid are eager to avoid it in their Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea – the team who slammed the door shut on them in this competition last season.

Indeed, each of Los Merengues’ two previous European campaigns has ended at the hands – or rather feet – of English opposition. In 2020, it was Manchester City who eliminated them in the round of 16. In 2021, it was Chelsea at the semi-final stage, Thomas Tuchel’s team drawing 1-1 in the Spanish capital before a 2-0 success at Stamford Bridge.

In that latter contest, Madrid could not handle Chelsea’s speed on the transition from defence to attack. N’Golo Kanté – Man of the Match in both legs – was particularly influential with his ceaseless work rate, runs with the ball and simple but superbly effective passing. To counter this threat, it has been speculated that Fede Valverde will come into the Madrid side to bring energy to a midfield that has looked leggy of late.

Chelsea coach Tuchel offers their followers another bright omen with his personal record of never having lost to Madrid as a manager (W2, D4) though his side had a notable stumble at Stamford Bridge last Saturday when going down 4-1 to Brentford – their first home loss since September, and first loss of any kind to their fellow west London club since 1939.

That results was all the more striking when you consider that the reigning European champions are on a six-match run without conceding at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League. To extend it to seven on Wednesday, they must succeed in keeping Karim Benzema quiet. The Frenchman scored in the sides’ semi-final encounter last year and with his double against Celta last weekend moved on to 34 goals from 35 matches this term – a scoring rate of 0.95 per game.

Zinedine Zidane and Thomas Tuchel meet again.

Player watch: Joao Felix

Of all the Atlético de Madrid squad, only Antoine Griezmann (four) has managed more than a single goal so far in the current Champions League campaign. By contrast, Manchester City have six players with two goals or more. Yet the forward that Pep Guardiola’s men must arguably watch most closely is João Félix, the Portuguese whose fine headed effort against City’s neighbours Manchester United in the last round was illustrative of his recent explosion of confidence. He has been Atleti’s best attacker of late with six goals in his last six Liga outings – all of them won by Diego Simeone’s resurgent Spanish titleholders.  

Number: 0

Nil. Zero. Nothing. This is the number which has appeared, more often than not, beside the opposition’s name when Liverpool’s recent results have been read out. Since a 2-2 draw at Chelsea on 2 January, Liverpool have played 19 matches and kept 13 clean sheets. Away from Anfield, they have produced six successive clean sheets. This suggests a formidable challenge awaits a Benfica side seeking their first semi-final since 1990. So too does the Reds’ recent record in Portugal where they have hit five, four and then five goals again on their last three trips – all against Porto. The recent evidence would suggest Benfica might well sit deep and look to hurt Liverpool on counterattacks. This, after all, is how they prevailed 1-0 at Ajax in the last round – a night on which a defence including veteran centre-backs Jan Vertonghen and Nicolás Otamendi made 40 clearances, with Vertonghen contributing 10 on his own.

And finally: Can Emery engineer another upset?

Villarreal may have won 3-0 at Juventus last time out but they have only one victory to show from their last nine home matches (D5, L3) in the Champions League (from group stage onwards) ahead of hosting Bayern München in their first quarter-final tie in the competition since 2009. If that does not augur well against experienced opponents competing at this stage for the 10th time in 11 seasons, nor does their 2-0 weekend home loss to lowly Levante. And yet here’s a positive omen for fans of the Spanish side: Unai Emery was the last coach to oversee a home win against Bayern in the Champions League, a 3-0 victory for Paris Saint-Germain in the 2017/18 group stage.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Talking point: Madrid aim to avoid Chelsea repeat

Déjà vu may be a French expression but Real Madrid are eager to avoid it in their Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea – the team who slammed the door shut on them in this competition last season.

Indeed, each of Los Merengues’ two previous European campaigns has ended at the hands – or rather feet – of English opposition. In 2020, it was Manchester City who eliminated them in the round of 16. In 2021, it was Chelsea at the semi-final stage, Thomas Tuchel’s team drawing 1-1 in the Spanish capital before a 2-0 success at Stamford Bridge.

In that latter contest, Madrid could not handle Chelsea’s speed on the transition from defence to attack. N’Golo Kanté – Man of the Match in both legs – was particularly influential with his ceaseless work rate, runs with the ball and simple but superbly effective passing. To counter this threat, it has been speculated that Fede Valverde will come into the Madrid side to bring energy to a midfield that has looked leggy of late.

Chelsea coach Tuchel offers their followers another bright omen with his personal record of never having lost to Madrid as a manager (W2, D4) though his side had a notable stumble at Stamford Bridge last Saturday when going down 4-1 to Brentford – their first home loss since September, and first loss of any kind to their fellow west London club since 1939.

That results was all the more striking when you consider that the reigning European champions are on a six-match run without conceding at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League. To extend it to seven on Wednesday, they must succeed in keeping Karim Benzema quiet. The Frenchman scored in the sides’ semi-final encounter last year and with his double against Celta last weekend moved on to 34 goals from 35 matches this term – a scoring rate of 0.95 per game.

Zinedine Zidane and Thomas Tuchel meet again.

Player watch: Joao Felix

Of all the Atlético de Madrid squad, only Antoine Griezmann (four) has managed more than a single goal so far in the current Champions League campaign. By contrast, Manchester City have six players with two goals or more. Yet the forward that Pep Guardiola’s men must arguably watch most closely is João Félix, the Portuguese whose fine headed effort against City’s neighbours Manchester United in the last round was illustrative of his recent explosion of confidence. He has been Atleti’s best attacker of late with six goals in his last six Liga outings – all of them won by Diego Simeone’s resurgent Spanish titleholders.  

Number: 0

Nil. Zero. Nothing. This is the number which has appeared, more often than not, beside the opposition’s name when Liverpool’s recent results have been read out. Since a 2-2 draw at Chelsea on 2 January, Liverpool have played 19 matches and kept 13 clean sheets. Away from Anfield, they have produced six successive clean sheets. This suggests a formidable challenge awaits a Benfica side seeking their first semi-final since 1990. So too does the Reds’ recent record in Portugal where they have hit five, four and then five goals again on their last three trips – all against Porto. The recent evidence would suggest Benfica might well sit deep and look to hurt Liverpool on counterattacks. This, after all, is how they prevailed 1-0 at Ajax in the last round – a night on which a defence including veteran centre-backs Jan Vertonghen and Nicolás Otamendi made 40 clearances, with Vertonghen contributing 10 on his own.

And finally: Can Emery engineer another upset?

Villarreal may have won 3-0 at Juventus last time out but they have only one victory to show from their last nine home matches (D5, L3) in the Champions League (from group stage onwards) ahead of hosting Bayern München in their first quarter-final tie in the competition since 2009. If that does not augur well against experienced opponents competing at this stage for the 10th time in 11 seasons, nor does their 2-0 weekend home loss to lowly Levante. And yet here’s a positive omen for fans of the Spanish side: Unai Emery was the last coach to oversee a home win against Bayern in the Champions League, a 3-0 victory for Paris Saint-Germain in the 2017/18 group stage.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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