CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUARTER FINALS FIRST LEG PREDICTIONS

2023-04-10 · 3 min read · Champions League/Soccer
Champions League Quarter finals first leg predictions

AP | UEFA

The 2022-23 UEFA Champions League quarterfinals are here, with just eight sides remaining in the hunt for club football’s most prestigious prize.
Chelsea, Benfica, Bayern Munich and AC Milan were the first four to emerge from the round of 16 and enter the quarterfinals, joined by Manchester City, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Napoli. There are some mouth-watering ties set up for the quarterfinals and semifinals, with giants colliding and plenty of teams desperate for European glory. On Tuesday things kick off with Benfica hosting Inter Milan and Manchester City home to Bayern Munich. Wednesday sees AC Milan host Napoli and Chelsea travel to Spain to battle Real Madrid. Here is how I see the first leg of each playing out.
Champions League quarter-finals: Meet the teams

UEFA

Benfica vs. Inter
Benfica recently lost their first game since February against rivals Porto, a team Inter beat 1-0 on aggregate to knock them out of this season's Champions League in the last round.
While Inter were dominant against 10 men in the first leg against Porto, they survived an onslaught away in Portugal—a game that will give Benfica supporters great hope. Let's not forget Benfica has been excellent in the competition this season, topping a group that included PSG and Juventus without losing a game.
Benfica's 7-1 aggregate rout of Club Brugge in the Round of 16 made it very clear that Roger Schmidt's side should not be taken lightly. This is a proper team unit, with quality across the pitch that can win the tie in an instant.
Prediction: Benfica makes easy work of Inter 2-0 at home.
Manchester City vs. Bayern Munich
The only shame in this is that these two sides met too early. This could very well be the finals matchup but here we are. It's quite easy to forget Manchester City is in the ridiculous form right now. Arsenal's lead atop the Premier League continues to take most of the headlines in England, especially as City is expected to win the division every year under Pep Guardiola.
City has scored seven, six and two fours in their past four games. Erling Haaland's five—yes five—in the 7-0 demolition of RB Leipzig reminded everyone that they possess the best goalscorer in the world and are fully focused on winning this trophy for the first time in their history.
Despite leading an extremely tight Bundesliga race, Bayern is not in classic form. The switch from Julian Nagelsmann to Thomas Tuchel hasn't added too much instant momentum. This is a very good team who are having to fight for every result.
Prediction: Manchester City win at home 2-1 setting up an intense second leg in Munich
Real Madrid vs. Chelsea
On March 7, Graham Potter had Stamford Bridge bouncing after securing Chelsea's passage to the quarterfinals with an admirable 2-0 win over Dortmund. It was a battling performance that signalled the potential for a brighter future under a manager who was under intense pressure after a dismal spell of form.
On April 12, when the Blues travel to Real Madrid, ex-Chelsea boss Frank Lampard will be back on the hot seat. Potter's no more after drawing with relegation-threatened Everton and losing to Aston Villa. Lampard lost his first game in charge after a stunning Matheus Nunes goal lifted Wolves beyond his ailing side, so it's fair to say preparation for this incredibly difficult set of games has not been ideal.
Los Blancos fell 3-2 against Villarreal in La Liga on Saturday, but you almost have to separate their domestic issues from anything they do in the Champions League. Last year's success was built on stomping through difficult moments and never accepting defeat.
Prediction: This one is tough. I wanted to go for the upset and say Chelsea but they simply cannot win games in the Premier League. Asking a squad in the terrible form to go into the Bernebau and leave with a victory is as tough as it gets. Real Madrid will win 3-1 at home.
Milan vs. Napoli
Absolutely everything pointed to Napoli being the clear favourite here. They are 22 points ahead of Milan in Serie A and have enjoyed a fantastic season. However, Milan put on their best performance in a long while to beat the likely Italian champions 4-0 on April 2. Rafael Leão and Brahim Díaz were superb in that game and sparked Milan into life with the quality needed to take down one of Europe's form sides.
Napoli must make sure Leão doesn't enjoy the same uncontested space again. They sat off the rapid forward and were punished for a passiveness that we've rarely seen from Luciano Spalletti's team this season. You wonder if the heavy defeat will give Spalletti and his men a much-needed prod of motivation to get immediate revenge.
Prediction: I was ready to predict a 3-0 thrashing of Napoli but things have changed. In fact, that has changed so much that I believe Milan can get a result at home to begin the tie. 2-2 in Milan on Wednesday.
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By: Aaron Cantin

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