The Champions League is back! The Quarter-final setup promises to be exciting. Apex Football takes a look at the first set of fixtures. Pep’s Manchester City take on the ‘Spanish Burnley’ (Atletico Madrid) as they are fondly referred to on social media. While Klopp and Liverpool take a trip to Benfica in their quest for a historic quadruple triumph.
Manchester City vs Atletico Madrid
The champions of England face the champions of Spain on Tuesday night when Manchester City host Atletico Madrid. Diego Simeone has already enjoyed one fruitful trip to Manchester in this edition of the Champions League and now heads to the Etihad Stadium for the first leg of a quarter-final tie.
Atletico hit four goals past Alaves on Saturday night to go into the game on a run of seven wins in their last eight, although a defence of their LaLiga title appears to be beyond them.
Last year’s losing finalists City, meanwhile, maintained their Premier League advantage with a routine win over Burnley.
Billed as a clash of styles, Pep Guardiola has already hit back at the “stupid debate” over the two clubs’ tactics ahead of the game.
Kyle Walker serves the last game of his Champions League ban while Pep Guardiola will be without Ruben Dias (hamstring) and Cole Palmer (foot) on Tuesday.
Diego Simeone has a near full-strength squad to select from with Hector Herrera the biggest doubt after missing the win over Alaves.
Joao Felix shook off a knock to score a brace in Madrid while Matheus Cunha, Daniel Wass, Thomas Lemar and Sime Vrsaljko all returned to the matchday squad after injuries.
This would be a very difficult encounter for both teams but Manchester City have the edge.
Manchester City 2-1 Atletico.
Benfica vs Liverpool
Liverpool make the trip to Benfica on Tuesday night for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie – and the Reds are out to make history repeat itself.
On each of the two previous occasions the sides have met at this stage of the competition, the team from Merseyside claimed victory in both legs and went on to lift the trophy.
In 1978, Emlyn Hughes and Jimmy Case struck in Lisbon to help set up the Reds’ eventual victory over Brugge at Wembley. Four years later, a 5-1 aggregate victory secured passage towards their famous triumph in Rome.
Jurgen Klopp has already lifted the Champions League with Liverpool and is competing on three fronts after downing Inter Milan in the last round, before a routine domestic victory over Watford on the weekend.
Haris Seferovic returned to the Benfica squad for Friday’s defeat at Braga although Adel Taarabt is a doubt. Rodrigo Pinho and Lucas Verissimo are out.
Jurgen Klopp was able to leave Trent Alexander-Arnold on the bench on Saturday following his recovery from a hamstring issue. Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz were also saved from the line-up following international duties.
All three could return in Lisbon with Naby Keita back from a knee issue. Curtis Jones and Joel Matip have shaken off knocks picked up against Watford.
Benfica would want to cause the upset but Liverpool is a solid side and would have a comfortable victory.
Benfica 0-2 Liverpool.