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Champions League quarter-final preview: predicting who will qualify in each tie

The UEFA Champions League quarter-finals get underway this week, with four mouthwatering ties.

This articles previews all four match-up, and predicts who will complete the semi-final line-up.

Manchester City vs Bayern Munich

First leg: 11 April. Second leg: 19 April – read more: Man City vs Bayern Munich- 3 most memorable meetings

The headline act of the Champions League quarter-finals gets underway on Tuesday at the Etihad.

Manchester City are still yet to win this trophy, with this their 12 successive season in the competition, coming closest in 2021.

Back then, they did reach the final, but were thwarted by a Chelsea side led by Thomas Tuchel; more on him later.

Coming into this tie, Pep Guardiola’s team have won eight in a row in all competitions, including smashing RB Leipzig 7-0 in the previous round.

Bayern Munich meanwhile have won all eight Champions League games this season, which is impressive given that they’ve faced Barcelona, Inter, Paris Saint-Germain and, to a lesser extend, Viktoria Plzeň.

So, it was a major surprise when, last month, they decided to sack Julian Nagelsmann and appoint the aforementioned Tuchel.

To date, Tuchel has won both Bundesliga matches in charge, demolishing Borussia Dortmund 4-2, before a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Freiburg on Saturday.

Die Roten are in pole position to win an 11th straight league title, but a seventh European Cup is what they crave.

This tie is not to be missed, and promises to produce goals, goals and more goals, the majority of which may or may not be scored by Erling Braut Håland.

Real Madrid vs Chelsea

First leg: 12 April. Second leg: 18 April – read more: Real Madrid vs Chelsea- 4 most memorable meetings

For the third season in a row, Real Madrid and Chelsea will go head-to-head in the Champions League.

Back in 2021, the Blues prevailed 3-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals, before going on to lift the trophy.

Then, at this stage last season, los Blancos prevailed in extra time, before claiming their 14th European Cup against Liverpool.

Right now, Real Madrid come into the third part of this trilogy as very heavy favourites, given their opponent’s continued plight.

Carlo Ancelotti’s team are not going to retain their La Liga title, but showed their quality in the round of 16, coming from two down to demolish Liverpool 5-2 at Anfield.

Also, last mid-week, los Merengues reached a first Copa del Rey Final in nine seasons, smashing Barcelona 4-0 in Catalonia.

That night, Karim Benzema became just the second visiting player to score a Clásico hat-trick at Camp Nou, after Ferenc Puskás in 1963.

So, the side who’ve won five of the last nine Champions League Finals will fancy their chances of retaining their title on 10 June.

Chelsea meanwhile need this competition to save their season, sat 11th in the Premier League following Saturday’s miserable 1-0 defeat at Wolves.

This was the first match of Frank Lampard’s second spell in charge, appointed as caretaker until the end of the season last week.

When he was sacked in January 2021, the Blues went on to win this competition under Thomas Tuchel, so Lampard will feel he has unfinished business.

Nevertheless, given that Chelsea have won just six of 21 away games this season, losing 11, Real Madrid will be hoping to establish an unassailable lead at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday.

AC Milan vs Napoli

First leg: 12 April. Second leg: 18 April

This will be Napoli’s first-ever European Cup quarter-final, but most make them favourites to go even further.

I Partenopei have been unstoppable in Serie A this season, sat 16 points clear at the top, so are set to wrap up a first Scudetto in 33 years by the end of the month.

In the Champions League, Luciano Spalletti’s team have been equally irresistible, notably smashing Liverpool 4-1 and Ajax 6-1, before a 5-0 aggregate victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.

So, when the draw was made, with Benfica and Inter completing this side of the draw, the consensus was that Napoli will be lining-up in İstanbul for the final.

A.C. Milan though sent out a warning to the rest just ten days ago, steamrolling Napoli 4-0 at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Serie A.

Rafael Leão was back to his magnificent best that night, scoring twice in the rout.

I Rossoneri are the seven-times winners of this competition, only Real Madrid can boast more, but this is their first quarter-final appearance since 2012.

Stefano Pioli battled past Tottenham in the last 16, so are certainly underdogs, although that very recent emphatic victory in Naples will given Milan supporters hope.

If the reigning Scudetto winners are to have any chance of ousting this season’s champions, they’ll surely need a first leg win at San Siro.

Benfica vs Internazionale Milano

First leg: 11 April. Second leg: 19 April

At the start of this season, few would’ve predicted that either of these two would be Champions League semi-finalists, so what an opportunity this is for both.

Benfica are on course to claim their first Primeira Liga title sat 2019, sat seven points clear at the top, despite actually losing to Porto in O Clássico on Friday night.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the Eagles have now reached the European Cup quarter-finals in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1969.

Roger Schmidt’s team beat Juventus home and away during the group phase before smashing an admittedly hopeless Club Brugge 7-1 in the last 16.

So, will the two-times winners feature in the Champions League semis for the first time since their most-recent final appearance 33 years ago?

As for Internazionale, having dumped out the the side second in Portugal last month, can they overcome the Portuguese leaders here?

I Nerazzurri narrowly ousted Porto 1-0 in the previous round, very much hanging on for their lives in that second leg at Estádio do Dragão.

So, this is Inter’s first Champions League quarter-final since 2011, last getting beyond this stage a year earlier when they won the whole thing.

Right now, Simone Inzaghi’s side are fifth in Serie A, having failed to win any of their last six across all competitions, meaning he is a man under pressure.

With that in mind, most would expect a home win at Estádio da Luz with Benfica, possibly, favourites to progress overall.

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Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".

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