1306 Predicts the Rest of the UEFA Champions League
Updated: Apr 10, 2020
With the round of 16 of the 2020 UEFA Champions League campaign underway, Mihrab Samad and Andrew Gabriel have locked in their final predictions for this year’s UCL.
Most Likely to Flop
Mihrab - Juventus
This team is one of the best teams on paper that I've seen in my lifetime. Maurizio Sarri is a world-class coach with a wealth of talent at his disposable which include the likes of Matthijs De Ligt, Aaron Ramsey and Adrian
Rabiot coming in during the summer window to join the already star-studded cast of Leonardo Bonucci, Miralem Pjanic, Paulo Dybala and arguably the best player in the history of the game Cristiano Ronaldo, what could exactly go wrong?
They honestly may have too much talent. A prime example of this was earlier in the season where they had to drop Emre Can from the Champions League squad because they simply had no space for him. This resulted in him moving away from the club. With that much star power on your team comes many egos and feelings can get hurt pretty easily. They all feel as though they deserve their time to shine, which leads to selfishness in their play, which is never good at all as football is always a team sport first.
Currently, they are 1-0 down to Lyon in the round of 16, which is a genuine surprise, but I do think they have enough in them to make a bounce back at the Allianz Stadium in the second leg. However, I don’t believe they have enough to make it past some of the big teams such as Barcelona and Liverpool in the next stage of the competition.
Even with a perennial winner like Cristiano Ronaldo in the squad, who won the Champions League 3 times in a row with Real Madrid, the team chemistry is just really poor, something that cannot be fixed overnight. However, If this squad manages to stick together after this season and really build on playing more as a team they will be one of the most feared sides in Europe in no time.
Andrew - Manchester City
While it would be easy to say Barcelona because of recent history, I’m going to go with Manchester City. Although it’s almost guaranteed that they will go all-in trying to win the Champions League this year because of their two-year ban following this season and the fact they have no chance in the Premier League, I just can’t see them winning any silverware this year.
Unfortunately, the year is not 2018 and City is not running away with the Premier League, nor are they fast approaching 100 points. The team as a whole is quickly losing momentum, and the UEFA ban isn’t too helpful.
The team is still nuts though. City is in possession of possibly the best midfielder in the world right now in Kevin De Bruyne and a multitude of world-class talent spread all over the pitch. The only issue with that is the fact that pretty much any team they’ll come up against from this point forward is going to be in the same situation. Every single team still in the tournament is there for a reason.
They do have a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid going into the second leg at home, but if they manage to hold Los Blancos off, I can’t see them getting past the quarter-finals. However, it would be hilarious to see them win the cup just to rub it in UEFA’s face before the two-year ban.
Mihrab - Bayern Munich
This is really surprising, but Bayern have been looking absolutely incredible these past couple weeks. After Niko Kovac left the helm in November, it looked like Bayern would be in for a rough ride this season. However, to everyone’s surprise, Hans-Dieter Flick has come aboard and steadied the ship.
After struggling for a couple months, they are finally back in first place in the Bundesliga. They have also brought in some much-needed youth into the team after letting go of veterans Arjen Robben, Frank Ribery and Rafinha. Serge Gnabry has been one of Bayern's best players this season scoring 17 goals in all competitions while also providing 19 assists.
However, the breakout star this season has definitely got to be 19-year-old Canadian Alphonso Davies. Converted to a left-back this season, Phonzie has been absolutely dominating teams with his physicality and pace, literally charging through opponents sometimes to win back balls while also having the finesse to cross the ball into the box for the open man to score.
Other players who have impressed are Bayern's main man Robert Lewandowski, who has been scoring at an insane rate this season with 39 goals in 39 games (He is also second in the golden boot race with 25 goals in the league alone). Their depth is also quite incredible with players such as Phillipe Coutinho and Corentin Tolisso having to come off the bench because of how stacked the starting 11 are.
In the Champions League this season, Bayern have yet to drop a game this season and with a 3-0 lead going into the second leg of the round of 16 at home against Chelsea, they are in a quite comfortable position right now. Truly a surprise package because of what they looked like earlier in the season, they have been one of the most exciting teams in Europe this season to watch and looking forward to what comes next for them.
Andrew - Borussia Dortmund
If you’ve ever listened to The 2 Gabriels Podcast (check it out in the podcast section), you will know that I think the world of Erling Haaland. From the moment he transferred to Borussia Dortmund, I have been telling everybody that will listen (and quite a few people that probably didn’t listen) that he would be a problem, and so far that has been completely true. In nine games for Dortmund, nine in the Bundesliga, two in the Champions League and one in the German Cup, Haaland has scored twelve goals. It’s also worth mentioning that he’s only played a full 90 minutes three times.
Haaland, combined with the experience of players like Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Mats Hummels, the pure skill of players like Jadon Sancho, Julien Brandt and Nico Shulz and the hunger from younger players like Gio Reyna and Achraf Hakimi all could contribute to a spectacular Champions League upset that sees the Black and Yellow raise the Champions League trophy.
Dortmund are well within striking distance in a tight Bundesliga race, sitting in third and only a mere five points off the top spot. The team is in great form as of late, and after taking a 2-1 lead against PSG in the first leg of the round of 16, it’s difficult to imagine them not making at least the semi-final. The idea of Lucien Favre’s squad making an appearance in the UCL final isn’t totally absent from the realm of possibility.
Most Likely to Win
Mihrab - Liverpool
Wow! What a surprise! Picking Liverpool to win? That’s crazy! As you can see from my heavy sarcasm this is probably the easiest pick I have had to make.
The current champions are the most in-form team in Europe.
They have the frontline of dreams with Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. Their backline is also scattered with talent. On the right is Trent Alexander-Arnold who has already matched his own record of most assists by a defender in a season in late February. On the left, we have possibly the best full-back in Europe, Andy Robertson, who Liverpool picked up at an absolute bargain at 8 million pounds, and of course, at center back, there is the crown jewel and current PFA Player of the year Virgil Van Dijk. There isn’t much to say about him other than the fact he’s an absolute beast. These are just a few of the many world-class players Liverpool have in their squad, which include Golden Glove winner Allison Becker, reliable captain Jordan Henderson and everyone’s favorite person in football, James Milner.
Right now they are currently 0-1 behind Atletico Madrid, which is a bit of a concern. Jordan Henderson being most likely out for the second leg is a major concern because he has been absolutely massive this season, but I don’t think Atletico will be ready for Anfield. It's been almost 2 seasons since Liverpool lost a home game, so I don’t think they will be losing there anytime soon. What Liverpool need to do to win the Champions League is to keep playing the style of football they know best, which is to find swing crosses into the box with their full-backs and to put pressure on the opponents with their press.
Andrew - Liverpool
I’d love to pretend that I had to go through a long-thought process to make this pick, but I didn’t. My pick to win the 2020 UEFA Champions League is Liverpool.
Despite their 1-0 loss to Atletico in the first leg, I can’t see a world where Liverpool doesn’t win the Champions League this year. To a fan of the beautiful game, predicting Liverpool to win this tournament can be chalked up to common sense.
If you honestly think a 1-0 deficit going into the second leg could possibly spell the end for Liverpool, might I redirect your attention to last year’s semi-final against Barcelona where they dug themselves out of a 3-0 hole to win 4-3 at Anfield. As Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp has never lost a two-legged tie, so to think Liverpool are down and/or out in any way would be foolish.
As obvious as it is, Liverpool’s roster is stacked. They have possibly the best front line we’ve seen in the past decade and an equally stellar backline combined with one of the better midfields in the game today, so it really isn’t all that difficult to see why this team has only just lost their first game in the Premier League last weekend.
The 1-0 loss to Atletico in the first leg will serve as a wake-up call for the Reds. Liverpool will fire back with focus and intensity, and when the entire team is on form, they might be, dare I say, the best team in the world in any sport right now. Plain and simple, I predict Liverpool will come back to Anfield, clean Atletico up and finish the tournament strong and emerge as the champions of Europe for the second year in a row.
Follow Andrew Gabriel on Twitter @andrewbgabriel and Mihrab Samad @Mihrab_, and follow 1306 Sports on Twitter and Instagram @1306sports on both platforms