Tuesday heralds the start of the Champions League quarter-finals and there are two mouthwatering clashes in store.
With the Premier League title surely wrapped up, Manchester City’s attention turns to Borussia Dortmund and the formidable threat posed by Erling Haaland.
The 20-year-old is in demand, with City one of the clubs reportedly interested in his services, and he could join an illustrious group of goalscorers if he finds the net at the Etihad Stadium.
The other game sees a repeat of the 2018 final, with Liverpool travelling to face Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid.
The Reds have endured a torrid Premier League title defence, but a resounding win over Arsenal at the weekend could provide them with the impetus to produce an eye-catching result in the Spanish capital.
Manchester City v Borussia Dortmund: Can Guardiola’s stubborn defence keep Haaland out?
City’s hopes of making the semi-finals could rest on keeping Haaland quiet.
The Norway striker Haaland is the Champions League’s top goalscorer this term, finding the back of the net 10 times.
If he scores in this game, he will become just the fifth player in the competition’s history to score in seven matches in a row, after Cristiano Ronaldo (twice), Robert Lewandowski, Edinson Cavani and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
A goal on Tuesday would also take him to seven in his first five Champions League knockout matches for Dortmund, overtaking Lewandowski’s record of six in his first five matches in the latter stages of the competition for Bayern Munich.
He will come up against a defence in fine form, however. City have not conceded a goal in any of their last seven games in the Champions League – only Arsenal in 2005-06 have ever had a longer run of consecutive clean sheets in the competition (10).
City will also be buoyed by their excellent record against Bundesliga opposition, winning 10 of their last 11 Champions League matches against German sides.
They will need to improve on a poor quarter-final record, though. City have lost four of their five matches in the last eight under Pep Guardiola, with the Premier League leaders going out at this stage in each of the last three seasons.
Prep done for Dortmund!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 5, 2021
Real Madrid v Liverpool: Klopp’s men hoping to halt losing streak against Los Blancos
This will be the first Champions League meeting between the two sides since Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in the 2018 final.
That was the Reds’ third consecutive defeat to Los Blancos in the competition. They have only suffered four losses on the spin against the same opponent across all European competitions once before, with Benfica putting together such a streak between 1984 and 2010.
The LaLiga champions will be in confident mood, having won the first leg in eight of their last nine Champions League knockout ties.
Karim Benzema is likely to lead the line and the Frenchman has a stellar record against the Premier League outfit. In the history of the Champions League, no player has more goals against them than Benzema’s four – level with Didier Drogba.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp will hope to continue his fine recent record at this stage of the competition, the German winning each of his last five quarter-final games, including all four of his games at this stage while in charge of Liverpool.
Central to their hopes of taking a lead back to Anfield for the second leg will be Sadio Mane. The Senegal international has scored 19 goals in 40 games in the Champions League and could become just the third player in the club’s history to reach 20 goals in the competition after Mohamed Salah (24) and Steven Gerrard (21).
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