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The UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals Kick Off Today

The UEFA Champions League quarterfinals kick off today with only eight teams remaining in the chase to crown themselves champions and have the honor of raising “La Orejona.” Atletico Madrid will face FC Barcelona as will Bayern Munich and Benfica.

Atletico Madrid vs FC Barcelona

  • Time: Tuesday, April 05, 2016 2:45 PM ET

Bet on Atletico

Atletico’s passage to the quarterfinals was difficult to say the least, only defeating PSV by penalties. Regardless, Atletico just had a great 5-1 win over Real Betis and have won 5 of their last 6 matches.

They now face a well-known opponent and coach Diego Simeone will likely follow suit with Real Madrid’s strategy of keeping his players back and taking advantage of the counterstrike with Fernando Torres and Antoine Griezmann. Torres has found the back of the net a total of 10 times in 14 matches against Barcelona.

This strategy was successful not only for Real Madrid but for Atletico as well, having drawn to a 1-1 at Camp Nou back in 2014 and then winning at home.

Injuries might hamper Atletico though. Yannick Carrasco still remains on the injury list with ankle problems and Saúl Ñíguez is doubtful after being knocked around during the 5-1 win over Betis.

The greatest problems lie in injuries to Atletico’s defensive ranks, Diego Godin, Stefan Savić and José Giménez and are out. While the possible back injury to French defender Lucas Hernández might might compound their problems. 

Atletico is expected to start with Oblak – Felipe Luis, Hernandez, Monslave, Juanfran – Koke, Gabi, Fernández, Kranevitter, – Griezmann, Torres.

Bet on Barcelona

The Spanish giant may be headed towards the difficult accomplishment of being the first team since 1990 to keep the Champions’ trophy in their hand for the second time in a row as they face their La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid.

And, though Barca is the clear favorite, and leads in La Liga football by a wide margin, the story might play out differently for the Champions. Both these teams have made it to the finals in recent years, so their chances are arguably equal.

Barcelona’s seeming invincibility at Camp Nou just suffered a blow, losing last weekend to Real Madrid 2-1 in El Clasico. Some analysts have called this to be a chink in their armor and expect Barca to be rattled by the loss. The loss broke the impressive 39-game winning streak in their home pitch.

Barcelona however, is till a heavy favorite to win the championship and perhaps the treble. With the trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar Jr at full force, it’s hard argue on the contrary. Having lost over the weekend may also increase Barca’s need to make a statement and silence the naysayers.

And, though a few of Barcelona’s players have suffered injuries that will keep them off the pitch, namely Jérémy Mathieu, Adriano and Sandro Ramirez, the starting lineup is as expected with Ter Stegen – Alves, Alba, Mascherano, Pique – Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta – Messi, Suarez, Neymar.

Game Prediction: Atletico hasn’t won over Barcelona since the 1-0 second leg match of the 2013/14 Champions League quarterfinals. This points to a Barcelona win.

Benfica vs Bayern Munich

  • Time: Tuesday, April 05, 2016 2:45 PM ET

Bet on Bayern Munich

The Bavarians had a contested Round of 16, just barely defeating the Italian powerhouse Juventus with a 90 goal by Thomas Mueller that took them to extra times and the eventual win.

Bayern’s problems against Juve should be a wake up call to not underestimate the Portuguese team. The Germans had a difficult time defending against Juves wings, allowing players to pass through fairly easy towards Neuer’s goal. However, in their last two Bundesliga matches, they seem to have adjusted winning 1-0 against Eintracht Frankfurt and over FC Koln 0-1 as well.

The Germans are still heavy favorites to win this game and have only lost once in the last 18 matches in all competitions, 14 of them are wins, and are unbeaten in Champions League this season with an extensive goal scoring record of 18 goals from 4 matches while conceding only 3.

Bayern’s secret might be Allianz Arena, where they’ve only lost once this season and have been extremely effective in scoring. Bayern is one of the favorites to win the Champions League. At home, they’ve racked up 10 games in a row, while only losing six in 28 matches.

Jerome Boateng and Holger Badstuber are long term absentees for Bayer Munich due to injury. Manager Pep Guardiola is expected to go with Neuer – Alaba, Benatia, Martinez, Lahm – Alonso – Ribery, Vidal, Muller, Costa – Lewandowski as a starting lineup.

Bet on Benfica

After defeating the Russian Zenit St. Petersburg in the last round, Benfica is riding high on motivation. They also just recently crushed Braga 5-1 last weekend in their own league.

The lethal combination of Brazilian Jonas and Kostas Mitroglou has been an effective scoring machine, racking up five goals in this competition and putting them atop the Portuguese league with a difference of five goals.

Midfielder Nico Gaitan completes this trio, which could pose a threat to the potentially leaky Bayern defense. Benfica could capitalize on the opportunity of being underestimated by the Germans, something which seems to be common with the Bayern.

Benfica is no stranger at being the underdog. And, this could even mean an upset for the Germans. If you recall Benfica’s road to this point, they have beaten Zenit and Atletico at home.

The Portuguese are expected to start with Moraes – Eliseu, Jardel, Nilsson, Almeida – Samaris, Renato Sanches – Jonas, Gaitan, Pizzi – Mitroglou as a lineup.

Game Prediction: Bayern will successfully defend Allianz and will win 2-1.