After much brainstorming, the long-mooted idea of finishing the Champions League campaign in a sort of mini-tournament format will go ahead in Portugal in August. Finally, we will see the conclusion of a competition that captivated audiences with plenty of twists and turns in its early stages. Its been a long season and an even longer year, so don’t feel bad if you need a recap. The long hiatus that brought the sport to a halt has thrown off our understanding of space and time.
For example, can you believe that Erling Haaland‘s emergence as a top striker at RB Leipzig was this season? It feels like he’s been at Dortmund for ages, but no, that was this season. Let’s take a look at the fixtures that have to be played and how each team made it to where they are in the competition.
Half of the ties have already been concluded. Paris Saint-Germain recovered from a Haaland-inspired defeat to Dortmund to overturn that deficit in the return leg, winning 3-2 on aggregate. The fallout from the match focused on the petty revenge Neymar and other PSG players got on Haaland for his lotus flower first-leg celebration pose.
Atalanta was one of the more surprising successes of the last 16 round. It’s not that many people doubted they could beat Valencia, more that few expected them to score eight against them over two legs. The Italian side scored
four in each match to reach the last eight with an aggregate win of 8-4.
RB Leipzig showed up Tottenham for being a shadow of the team that they were during their Mauricio Pochettino pomp. This Jose Mourinho edition offered little in response to the German side’s swift attacks and lost 4-0 on aggregate. Timo Werner agreed to join Chelsea in the time since Leipzig’s progression to the quarter-finals, so he will not be around to help them get any further in the competition. The biggest scalp that has been claimed of this current UCL campaign was that of the holders, Liverpool. Knockout tournament specialists Atletico Madrid showed that they can be counted out as long as Diego Simeone is gesticulating wildly on the touchline. A brilliant defensive display helped them get through a difficult Anfield test to triumph 4-2 on aggregate.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has "no doubt" his team can secure a return to the Champions League.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 6, 2020
Of the games that are still to be played, the one that looks like a foregone conclusion is Bayern Munichs tie with Chelsea. The German juggernaut traveled to London and blew Chelsea away with the three goals. We expect a further defeat for the Blues to follow in the return leg. Bayern deserves to be favorites to win the competition. Manchester City will also be vying for the favorites tag after they went to the Bernabeu and beat Real Madrid 2-1. However, they still have a second leg to navigate through and City have suffered too many defeats this season to
rule out a comeback for Zinedine Zidane’s European specialists.
The Champions League returns
Two underdogs look to pull off shocks in the other games. Lyon takes a 1-0 lead into the second leg of their tie with Juventus. The Italian champions were substandard in that first leg but will be hopeful that the premature end of Ligue 1 can help their cause against a Lyon starved of competitive action. Napoli almost took advantage of Barcelona’s terrible away record in Europe when they met in Italy in the first leg but had to settle for a 1-1 draw in the end. They are improving under Gennaro Gattuso and could yet complete the biggest surprise of the games
that are still to be settled. Messi and company cannot get complacent.
As always, we can expect surprises in the Champions League as well as jaw-dropping comebacks. The amount of memorable turnarounds that have been completed in recent seasons is stunning and we expect more to come in August. If you’re looking to bet on the action from Europe’s top competition then use the Bet365 promo code (July 2020) reviewed by Wincomparator to claim the sign-up offer of up to £100 in bet credits.