Champions League Preview (19th April, 17Wednesday Matches)
By Visesh Rathi
Barcelona vs. Juventus
There is something about comebacks which gets our pulses racing. Where the touted losers turn it around and show the world what a spectacle the sport can be. As PSG would vouch for, you can never write off Barca, which boasts of the deadliest attack and mesmerizing midfield. But can they stage two comebacks in a row? Right after they penalized PSG in the frantic end to a game which restored the faith in any possible outcome in the beautiful game they are three goals behind the Italian champions Juventus for the return leg. All onus will obviously on the deadly trio of Messi, Neymar and Suarez coupled with the trickery and precision of Iniesta, Rakitic and Busquests. The problem lies at the back where they have not been completely convincing, and as Dybala showed in the first leg, Barca might suffer a blow, especially when Dybala is joined by Higuain and Mandzukic who can both be deadly if working in tandem. Expect plenty of attack from Barca and Juventus to look on counterattacking options and play more defensively. Hope for another frantic game to make the sport even more beautiful.
Prediction: Barcelona 4 – Juventus 1. (Juventus to advance on away goals)
Monaco vs. Dortmund
Monaco have already dispatched a star studded Manchester City side. Monaco currently sit top of the table in Ligue 1. Monaco boasts of one of the most exciting young sides on display and Monaco go into the game with a 3-2 lead with three away goals. But Dortmund have Aubameyang, who missed a host of opportunities in the first leg, but is still one of the most deadliest strikers. After the attack on the Dortmund team bus, Dortmund can be forgiven for not being on the same frame of mind that they ought to have in games like these. Yet we saw an entertainer with five goals and this game promises the same. Tuchel’s team knows that they need to score in order to advance, and there should be heavy reliance on the likes of Kagawa, Dembele and Aubameyang. Monaco’s defensive issues and inexperience can cost them here. Falcao’s renaissance after his frustrating time in England as well as emergence of young talents like Mbappe and Bakayoko along with guile of Moutinho gives Monaco equal chance to advance. This might as well turn out to be one exciting end to end game that we crave in football. A potential entertainer for neutrals and fans alike.
Prediction: Monaco 2 – Dortmund 3. (Dortmund to advance on penalties)