The race for the European crown begins this week after nearly 5 months and it’s going to be a feast for football fans all over the world. Champions League 2020 will restart after the global pandemic with zero spectators as teams will look to cement their place in the Quarter-Finals. Domestic leagues having finally found their champions, it’s time to shift the focus on the 10 remaining teams who will battle it out this month as Europe’s premier club competition returns to action with the last-16 second legs on August 7th & 8th.
Juventus vs Lyon (First Leg 0-1)
Juventus may have secured a ninth successive Serie A title but the challenge remains intact as they trail 1-0 after the first leg in the round of 16, Champions League 2020. Juventus need their talismanic Portuguese attacker, Cristiano Ronaldo to fire on all cylinders in Turin to assert themselves as a dominant force against the French Ligue1 opponent, Lyon. The visitors will look to hold on to their slender first-leg lead against The Old Lady who are still searching for their first Champions League crown since the 1995-96 campaign.
Juventus have a lot to prove as they have been knocked out twice in quarterfinals and it is for exactly this sort of night that Juventus forked out €112 million for a then 33-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018. The winner of this fixture will square off against the winner of Real Madrid vs Man City in the Knockout playoffs.
Prediction: Juventus 3 Lyon 1. Juve through 3-2 on aggregate
Manchester City vs Real Madrid (First Leg 2-1)
Pep Guardiola and his men hold a 2-1 advantage, courtesy of their come-from-behind win at the Bernabeu in February. It’s still far away from the job Manchester City have as they will be up against a fiery Real Madrid squad who secured the La Liga title and have a knack of overturning tight scenarios like this in their favour.
Real Madrid have tasted glory 13 times in the Champions League but Zinedine Zidane finds his team in a decisive position as a draw or a 1-0 loss will still take Manchester City through to the quarterfinals. City progressed in all seven Champions League matches where they have won the first leg away from home, while Real Madrid have a poorer record of coming back after losing the first leg. Zinedine Zidane has overseen just two wins from six games with English teams in the competition. Real Madrid will also be lacking their captain Sergio Ramos in the centre and Pep Guardiola will have more knowledge of how to take advantage of this and motivate his players to get through the hurdle. This is going to be a cracker of a contest.
Prediction: City 2 Real Madrid 2. City through 4-3 on aggregate
Barcelona vs Napoli (First Leg 1-1)
Barcelona face Napoli with the tie on a knife-edge at 1-1 in the second leg of the Champions League 2020. After surrendering arch-rivals Real Madrid the La Liga title, their star talisman Lionel Messi was vocal in his criticism against the players and the management. Manager Quique Setien’s job is at risk and any mistake against the Naples at home can send him straight hunting for a new job. Barca hold a record of 35 unbeaten games at Camp Nou and Napoli have won just one of their last 10 away games in the Champions League. Messi and co. will hope to end a shaky season on a high note and give something for the fans to cheer about.
Napoli, on the other hand, had a mediocre domestic season but the Italians look confident after recently winning the Coppa Italia. However, Barcelona will have an added advantage as Lorenzo Insigne suffered an injury in the 3-1 win over Lazio in the final Serie A game, which casts doubt on his participation. Barcelona’s season has not been a success either but it could become quite the magical season if the club can conquer Europe once again or a disaster if they end the season trophy-less.
Prediction: Barcelona 2 Napoli 1. Barca win 3-2 on aggregate
Bayern Munich vs Chelsea (First Leg 3-0)
With a comfortable 3-0 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Bayern are in a good position to progress further in the competition. They will host Frank Lampard’s men at the Allianz stadium in the 2nd leg of the Champions League 2020 after already having won two titles, the DFB Cup and the Bundesliga this season. If Bayern eliminates Chelsea they will face the winners of Barcelona vs Napoli in the quarter-finals. Looking at their current playing style and the form, this Bayern side on their day,can win against any team in the world.
The Blues, however, will head into the game looking to bounce back from the disappointment of their 2-1 defeat by Arsenal in the FA Cup final at Wembley last week. Not only do Chelsea need to score at least three times, but they also need to stop the Munich goal machine, Robert Lewandowski, from adding to the 11 goals he’s already scored in Champions League 2020.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 4 Chelsea 0. Bayern win 7-0 on aggregate.
Overall Champions League Stats
The above graphics depicts how Spanish clubs have dominated in Europe’s premier club competition. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus will all make their return to the centre stage this week and it’s going to be a treat for all football fans who have waited for five months. Liverpool are knocked out from the tournament so a new king awaits the crown. Atalanta, Atlético Madrid, PSG and RB Leipzig have already secured their places in the mini-tournament in Lisbon later this month and the last 4 fixtures in the 2nd leg are going to be mayhem.