Champions League: Bayern Munich, Porto, Liverpool face stiff odds in comeback bid, Man City look to exploit Dortmund's defence
In the Champions League second legs, Bayern Munich, Porto, Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund come from behind against PSG, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester City
Sometimes the reality of real life takes shape in very apparent moments in the times of the global pandemic. The scorelines carried over from the first round of UEFA Champions League Quarter-finals, is a welcome distraction for those of us lucky enough to afford it.
Thus we look forward, but not without remembering that it was at these grave times we looked towards the arts and sports, for spirit one shows in movement.
PSG vs Bayern Munich (3-2 aggregate)
Not since 2014 have Munich progressed in the knockout rounds with a first leg deficit.
Since their defeat at hands of FC Porto in the quarter-finals of 2014, an imposter syndrome takes hold of the Bavarian giants, like a dead leg or a cramp. Four times they have tried, four times they have failed.
PSG look as cut-throat as a balisong knife. This pocket knife found in the Philippines, can be concealed in the grooves of a rickshaw handle, it is unassuming.
The French side faced 31 shots in the first leg, but PSG pickpocketed them and then took them for a ride.
Three away goals is a burgeoning advantage in the slimmest of margins in the world of knockout football, none more so here, in this competition. And Parc des Princes is the perfect historic setup for an illustrious resistance.
PSG scored 3 goals from their 5 shots on target at the Allianz Arena. They only need to score one in their backyard to make it a tie too far for Munich, and then exacting revenge for last season's final loss.
Kylian Mbappe could further cement his claim as the successor and the prototype to the Messi-Ronaldo debate.
Bayern will be without Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry, Douglas Costa and Coertin Tolisso. For PSG, Marquinhos, Juan Bernat, will be sitting out with Mauro Icardi doubtful. A fresh faced PSG defence may prove inviting for Bayern.
Chelsea vs Porto (2-0 aggregate)
History says Chelsea have got this tie in a sleeper-hold. As per form, Chelsea are expected to go through, like they have in 8 out of 10 times they have had a first leg advantage.
Porto will be looking to repeat what only Barcelona and Liverpool have been able to to.
The form book will tell Porto that the size of the task is daunting. Chelsea are yet to be beaten in this year's edition of the Champions League. Played nine, been seven, drawn two.
It wouldn't be fair to Liverpool, Dortmund, Porto to call Chelsea ‘underdogs.’ But to liken it to a very well bred Italian Mastiff hound among pigeons, would be closer to the truth. Tuchel has been mindful to tell his Chelsea players to focus strictly on Porto and not the not-so-distant possibility of a Champions League final appearance.
“There is no match other than the next game and no other obstacle to overcome than Porto tomorrow. We should not get lost in dreams and hopes and speeches and whatever. We are here to focus on reality and hopefully after tomorrow we can talk about the semi-final.”
Porto haven't won against an English opposition in their last seven matches: losing 5, drawing 2, scoring only twice and letting in 16 goals. It is a mental feat that will be akin to assailing a mountain with a spoon.
But like Tuchel says: “There’s nothing less interesting in football than the past. Everything that counts in football is the next match, the next competition.”
Liverpool vs Real Madrid (1- 3 aggregate)
Liverpool are well and truly on the ropes. While we could peddle the possibility of another Anfield miracle; that stadium without its crowd is a dragon's den without a dragon. Like a hole in the wall, a very conspicuous one.
The Liverpool juggernaut from Germanic-Indian myth has turned into the rusty tin-man from the Wizard of Oz.
The manner of the Liverpool defence seizing up was down to tactical corrosion on the part of Jurgen Klopp. But also the stiffing of long twitch muscles and consequently overall stamina.
Real Madrid treated Liverpool like a Master Chef would approach a prime steak. They put extra seasoning on Trent Alexander Arnold. It was a damning demonstration of all of the Liverpool right-back’s weaknesses. It warped perhaps his own sense of belief, as much as it did to the Liverpool team in totality.
The men in Red are playing like a team that is frightened to make mistakes, as very often, the placement of the error in context of team's front foot play, leaves it too open for the likes of Toni Kroos.
Thiago Alcantara will have to take the matador's red cape away from Kroos if Liverpool were to have the slightest shimmer of hope.
Fabinho will have to outperform Casemiro in the battle of the Brazilian midfield generals.
Eden Hazard, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vasquez would all be unavailable for Real Madrid. Liverpool will desperately miss the discipline of Jordan Henderson and Virgil Van Dijk. Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, too, are away injured.
Dortmund vs Manchester City (1-2 on aggregate)
Dortmund's dip in confidence is a result of their erratic league form. Like Liverpool, they too are domestic co-sufferers.
Form doesn't speak well for them in this end of the track. Six out of 7 times Dortmund have been knocked out after trailing on aggregate in the first leg. But, this stage of the competition is a frequent hiccup point for the travelling team.
If City do pass through, they will be attending their first semi-finals in half a decade.
Kevin De Bruyne, Ruben Dias, Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan, Rodri, are all set to return after being rested over the weekend. For Dortmund, Jadon Sancho has returned into the frame of contention, but lack of match sharpness would mean that it’s more likely for him to feature as a substitute.
City will look to exploit large gaps of space in the wide areas that Dortmund’s recent play has been blamed for.
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