Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
After a stop-start, drama filled 2019/20 Champions League campaign, the 79 clubs from 54 UEFA member associations that embarked on a continental adventure last year have been whittled down to eight elite clubs after an arduous 12-month journey.
Those combatants – representing leagues in England, France, Italy, Germany and Spain – will assemble in Portugal this week to contest the tournament’s quarter finals in a do-or-die knockout football format.
With silverware in sight, Champions League winning dreams are close to being realised, though all but one of the remaining eight teams will ultimately fall short.
Ahead of this week’s four crucial quarter final bouts, we’ve taken a closer look at each of the teams involved in each tie, hoping to make the UCL final at the Estadio da Luz on August 23.
Remember – we’ll be covering all the action extensively with match previews and betting tips on our Champions League predictions page.
Check out part one of our Champions League quarter final guide here!
Friday, August 14
Barcelona vs Bayern Munich
20:00 kick-off at the Estadio da Luz
Barcelona win: 12/5
Bayern Munich win: 19/20
Two of the Champions League’s biggest names face off in Lisbon on Friday, when five times winners’ Barcelona and Bayern Munich go head-to-head in the competition’s most high-profile quarter final. The Bavarians have looked unstoppable since the turn of the year and are favourites to progress, but with Lionel Messi’s destiny-defining powers still potent, Barcelona shouldn’t be dismissed.
How did they get here?
Barcelona topped Group F in customary, efficient fashion, finishing unbeaten and ahead of Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan and Slavia Prague.
However, Los Cules seemed to lack their usual final third sparkle, netting just nine times in six matches overall and securing three of their four wins by single goal margins.
In the Last 16, Barca were given a tough time by Napoli in the first leg in Italy, before an inspired Lionel Messi fired them to a comfortable 3-1 win over the Partenopei in the Camp Nou rematch.
Bayern Munich’s Champions League form in 2019/20 has been phenomenal, and the Bavarians carry a 100% winning record into Friday’s quarter final.
With 24 goals scored, including 10 in two meetings with Spurs, and just five conceded, the German record champions achieved the best group stage performance in the history of Europe’s premier club competition.
In the last 16, Bayern rag-dolled another Premier League big hitter in Chelsea, smashing seven goals past Frank Lampard’s Blues in a formidable pair of performances.
Have they met before?
Barcelona and Bayern Munich share a rich and chequered history in the Champions League having met on eight previous occasions in the competition’s changed format since 2009.
The continental giants first met in the UCL when they shared a group with eventual winners Manchester United in 1999, before they crossed paths again a decade later in the quarter finals.
Pep Guardiola’s tiki-taka masters ousted Bayern 5-1 over two legs then, though Bayern got their revenge in the semis four years later with a fast-paced 7-0 demolition job over the Catalonians in a gripping double-header.
Their most recent pair of encounters came five years ago in 2015, when Lionel Messi and Neymar combined to devastating effect over two games to earn Barca a 6-2 semi-final aggregate victory.
Players to watch
With so many household names certain to be showcasing their skills in Lisbon this week, everyone already knows each member of Barcelona and Bayern Munich’s star-studded teams inside out.
For Barca, all eyes will be on dynamic front trio Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and the talismanic Lionel Messi, while Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski, Thiago and Thomas Muller are the Bavarians’ headline acts.
Beneath that glittering star dusted surface, Bayern’s Canadian flier Alphonso Davies is also one to watch out for, while 17-year-old Barca whizz-kid Ansu Fati is a potential match-winner off the bench.
Saturday, August 14
Manchester City vs Lyon
20:00 kick-off at the Estádio José Alvalade
Man City win: 1/4
Lyon win: 9/1
Tournament favourites Manchester City are desperate to land their first ever Champions League title this season, and their impressive two-legged win over serial winners Real Madrid in the last round suggested they are ready to make the final jump after years of disappointment. Lyon – conquerors of a fancied Juventus team in the Last 16 – will be no pushovers however.
How did they get here?
Man City flexed their muscles and carried their favourites tag through the Group Stage with little effort, winning four and drawing two of their fixtures to top their section with comfort ahead of Atalanta, Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb.
In the Last 16, Manchester City battled their way to a landmark double-legged win over 13-times Champions League winners Real Madrid, beating the Spanish champions 2-1 both home and away in a couple of convincing displays.
In contrast, Lyon only just squeezed out of Group G in the competition’s first stage after the Ligue 1 outfit won only two of their six fixtures in watery looking section they shared with RB Leipzig, Benfica and Zenit St. Petersburg.
However, in the Last 16, Les Gones produced one of the shocks of the tournament so far, when they eliminated Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo over two legs on away goals.
Lyon gave themselves a huge chance to progress with a 1-0 triumph over the Old Lady in France back February, and an away goal from Memphis Depay in Turin in a 2-1 second leg defeat last week allowed OL to make the quarters at Juve’s expense.
Have they met before?
Manchester City and Lyon ran into each other as recently as 2018, when they contested a Champions League group alongside Shakhtar Donetsk and Hoffenheim.
Lyon proved more than a match for their big-spending opponents two years ago, turning the Citizens over 2-1 at the Etihad in their first encounter, before they held them to a 2-2 draw in France two months’ later.
Their victory in Manchester on match-day one proved to be Lyon’s only win from six group games that year, though the French side, who drew each of their remaining five fixtures, still managed to finish second behind City.
Players to watch
Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus, who have notched six times each, are City’s joint leading scorers in the Champions League this season, and that pair of chief goal-getters are supported by a stellar creative cast that includes Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin de Bruyne.
De Bruyne, with an incredible 22 assists in all competitions this season, is one of Europe’s most gifted chance creators and the 29-year-old remains the heartbeat of Pep Guardiola’s talented team.
Memphis Depay, back from injury, is Lyon’s most prolific attacker and their star of the show, while Maxwel Cornet, Moussa Dembele and Lucas Tousart are all emerging players worth watching out for.
Silky midfielder Houssem Aouar is the conduit though which all of Les Gones good football flows however, and if the gossip is to be believed, then Man City are a huge admirer of the 22-year-old’s technically polished skillset.
More FST news
- 8 hours ago
- Betting Odds
- 1 day ago
- Sky Super 6