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UEFA Champions League: Quarterfinal Review and Semifinal Preview

Champions League Final

Soccer’s a weird game. Just when things seem stable, the team who finished in seventh in the so-called “farmer’s league” beats the team who finished second in arguably the best league in the world. And that wasn’t even the most shocking thing to happen this week. It’s honestly kind of exhausting, but that’s what happens in single-elimination tournaments. Anybody can win on their day. Predictions were made for this past week, but they were awful. Instead, here’s a look back on a wild quarterfinal week and ahead to the 2020 UEFA Champions League semifinal matchups.

Atalanta 1 – 2 PSG

The dream run for Atalanta comes to an end. Their first-ever trip to the Champions League ends in heartbreak, as two goals at the death for PSG saw them come out on top. The Italian side will be back, as a third-place Serie A finish qualifies them for the group stage next year.

PSG, on the other hand, overcame injury and suspension to claw their way into the Champions League semifinal. The game changed completely after Kylian Mbappé came on in the 60th minute. He provided the assist for the winning goal from surprise hero Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. Before the 93rd minute winner, Neymar assisted Marquinhos in the 90th minute to equalize. Despite the win, Mbappé’s injury will continue to be a concern throughout the tournament.

Champions League semifinal
Can Neymar and Mbappé finally lead PSG to Champions League glory? (via goal.com)

RB Leipzig 2 – 1 Atlético Madrid

Another late winner decided who PSG would be playing in the Champions League semifinal. After Dani Olmo’s 50th minute goal for Leipzig and João Félix’s 71st-minute equalizing penalty for Atlético, an American played the hero in Lisbon. Tyler Adams, a 21-year-old New Yorker who used to play for his hometown team, the New York Red Bulls, put an 88th minute shot from just outside the box into the bottom corner for the win. Sports Illustrated is claiming it’s the most significant goal scored by an American abroad. The German side will play the French champions in the semifinal.

Barcelona 2 – 8 Bayern Munich

The Germans love a good blowout, don’t they? Sure it’s been over six years, but who could forget that classic 7-1 win they had over Brazil in the World Cup semifinal? Thomas Müller certainly didn’t, and he thought this quarterfinal against Barcelona was easier than that game against Brazil. He, Manuel Neur and Jérôme Boateng all played in that classic international clash, as well as this one.

The result shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise, as Bayern have dominated teams in this year’s tournament. A 7-1 aggregate win over Chelsea in the round of 16 followed a 7-2 away win at Tottenham back in October. The real shock was the opponent. Barcelona aren’t a team to get so brutally beaten. Things have gotten so bad at the club that Lionel Messi has demanded to leave. He’s been there almost his entire life. The manager has been fired, as have some other backroom staff, and it seems like this may be the end of a dynasty.

Champions League Semifianl
Where does Barcelona go if Messi leaves? (via Talksport)

Manchester City 1 – 3 Lyon

Before the quarterfinal games, it seemed like the biggest surprise possible would be Lyon topping Manchester City. While Bayern ruined that, Lyon’s run to the Champions League semifinal is still a bit of a shock. They only finished seventh in Ligue Un. They were 28 points behind champion PSG, whom they played one less match than.

Moussa Dembélé was the star man for Lyon, netting the two final goals for the squad. Kevin De Bruyne scored a 69th-minute equalizer after Maxwel Cornet gave Lyon the lead in the 24th minute. Manchester City’s quest for a first Champions League title faltered, but there is hope. Rumors say there is a chance Lionel Messi may end up with the Citizens. Will City’s lawyers be able to overcome the Financial Fair Play regulations to sign him? And if so, will he be enough to push them over the edge?

RB Leipzig vs PSG 8/18 3:00 pm ET

PSG showed their toughness with the late goals to defeat Atalanta, and with players returning they look like strong contenders. Mbappé likely won’t be able to play a full 90 minutes, but he showed his value even in short spells. Couple that with Ángel Di María’s return from suspension, and PSG look like strong favorites in this one. Leipzig will be relying on Marcel Sabitzer and Emil Forsberg to provide the goals and Dayot Upamecano to shore up the defense.

Prediction: PSG 3 – 1 RB Leipzig

Lyon vs Bayern Munich 8/19 3:00 pm ET

It can’t continue, can it? Lyon have won one of their last five competitive matches, and it was the last one. Bayern have looked unstoppable since the restart. Bayern have no weaknesses and seem to be on the verge of glory. Philippe Coutinho and Robert Lewandowski have been leading the scoring for Bayern, but everyone’s joined in. They also feature a young star to watch in left-back Alphonso Davies, a Canadian and MLS alumni. He will look to stop Dembélé and Cornet, who cannot be counted out, despite their unlikely spot in the semifinal.

Prediction: Lyon 0 – 3 Bayern Munich

 

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1 comment

Champions League Final: Europe's Biggest Competition Concludes August 23, 2020 at 10:11 am

[…] semifinal matchups, both of which featured a German club taking on a French club. (Side note: predictions made for the semifinal were much better than the ones for the […]

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