Early Euro 2020, UEFA Champions League and Europa League Quarterfinal Predictions
This is an exciting time to be a football fan as we approach the Euro 2020 (in 2021, I know it’s confusing) tournament this summer but there’s still a lot of European club competition action to recap left as well! I will also give some early Euro 2020 predictions based on the results of the last international break. So let’s begin!
Europe’s Sweet 16
UEFA Champions League
1 Manchester City vs Borussia Dortmund
2 Bayern Munich vs Paris Saint-Germain
3 FC Porto vs Chelsea
4 Real Madrid vs Liverpool
Winner of 1 vs 2 and 3 vs 4 face each other in semifinals
Manchester City are peaking at the right time with their domestic form, while Dortmund is stuttering and slipping down the Bundesliga table. The Citizens will advance to the semifinals.
The Bayern and PSG rematch from last year’s UEFA Champions League final will feature some key absences for both sides. While it’ll be difficult to replace Robert Lewandowski’s explosiveness up front, Bayern have enough other attacking threats and creative forces to send PSG packing again.
Porto want to echo Lyon’s exploits of making it to the semifinals of this competition, but Chelsea are not conceding a lot of goals under Thomas Tuchel. They have problems scoring goals especially with Timo Werner lacking confidence, but they’ll find some inspiration to get past the underdogs.
Real Madrid are starting to figure things out, and Liverpool are still without key defensive presences, namely Virgil Van Dijk. Real Madrid are a more complete side at the moment, forcing Liverpool to bow out.
UCL Semi Finals and Final
Those predictions would yield the following matchups: Manchester City vs Bayern Munich and Chelsea vs Real Madrid. City vs Bayern is too close to call, given the talent of both sides but some of their flaws. Could this be the year where Manchester City finally capture their elusive white whale in the form of the Champions League trophy? It might just happen. They’ll find a way past Bayern and overcome their toughest hurdle. Real Madrid is a better team than Chelsea at the moment that can rely on most of their stars more than Chelsea can rely on theirs. That’ll set up Manchester City vs Real Madrid in Istanbul, where the Citizens conquer los Blancos, the record title holder in Europe’s premiere competition, to lift the trophy for the first time.
UEFA Europa League
1 Granada vs Manchester United
2 Ajax vs Roma
3 Arsenal vs Slavia Prague
4 Dinamo Zagreb vs Villarreal
Winner of 1 vs 2 and 3 vs 4 face each other in semifinals
Manchester United appear fortunate to have drawn Granada, as they are beginning to slip after some promising runs this season. This is their last chance for silverware, and that desperation will see their journey extend at least until the semifinal. Roma are looking strong in this competition, probably too strong for Ajax. Arsenal will put an end to British club killer Slavia Prague’s run. A result that may surprise most people but shouldn’t is Dinamo Zagreb knocking out Villarreal. They have momentum and confidence after beating Tottenham, and they’ll have enough in the tank to outlast the Yellow Submarine.
Roma and Arsenal will advance to the final by beating Manchester United and Dinamo Zagreb respectively. Arsenal’s easier path to the final could either help them be fresher and fitter for Roma with its struggles domestically, or it could leave them ill prepared. It’s hard for me to see Arsenal getting the job done in the end when they are currently outside the top 8 of the Premier League Table. Therefore, I think Roma will do something they were unfortunately never able to accomplish with club legend Francesco Totti: win a European trophy.
Early Euro 2020 Predictions
Based on the results and injuries of the International Break matches, primarily UEFA’s 2022 World Cup Qualifiers, I will make some predictions that could be shifted as we approach closer to the tournament this summer.
Turkey, Italy, Wales, Switzerland (matches in Rome, Italy, and Baku, Azerbaijan)
Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Russia (matches in Copenhagen, Denmark, and St. Petersburg, Russia)
Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria, North Macedonia (matches in Bucharest, Romania, and Amsterdam, Netherlands)
England, Croatia, Czech Republic, Scotland (matches in London, England, and Glasgow, Scotland)
Spain, Sweden, Poland, Slovakia (matches in Bilbao, Spain, and Dublin, Ireland)
Portugal, France, Germany, Hungary (matches in Munich, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary)
Group A will have Italy scrape to the top of a sneakily strong group featuring tricky opponents. Turkey’s win over the Netherlands is the most impressive recent result the others in Group A can hang their hat on, so I have them in second. That leaves Wales and Switzerland to battle it out for third and I think Wales’s stars will make the difference over the Swiss.
1st Italy 2nd Turkey 3rd Wales 4th Switzerland
Group B is Belgium’s to lose. Debutants Finland have a chance to progress, but I’m backing Denmark and Russia to hold their own in the battle for second place.
1st Belgium 2nd Denmark 3rd Russia 4th Finland
Netherlands remain the favorites in Group C despite their slip up against Turkey and the threat posed by the other group members. Ukraine is a wildcard as many of their players come from their domestic league, whose clubs punch above their weight in European Competition. I could see North Macedonia catching an unsuspecting team like Austria slipping like they did Germany.
1st Netherlands 2nd Ukraine 3rd North Macedonia 4th Austria
England are expected to win Group D as Croatia’s talented core continues to age and won’t be at that same level they reached in 2018. Czech Republic and Scotland are in transitional periods, with Scotland trending upward but the Czechs going the other direction.
1st England 2nd Croatia 3rd Scotland 4th Czech Republic
If Spain lives up to their potential, they will win Group E despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return to the Swedish team. Robert Lewandowski’s health, following a serious injury against Andorra this past break. Slovakia are looking like underdogs as they’ll be relying on defensive stalwart Milan Skriniar and veteran midfielder Marek Hamsik.
1st Spain 2nd Sweden 3rd Poland 4th Slovakia
Group F is the undisputed group of death, although the forgiving format of this tournament likely ensures all three of France, Germany, and Portugal progresses and dooms Hungary in the process. The most vulnerable of those teams will be Germany though as they’ve suffered several shock losses in the last few years.
1st France 2nd Portugal 3rd Germany 4th Hungary
The 3rd place teams to advance: Russia, North Macedonia, Scotland, Germany
Round of 16 (winners in bold)
1B Belgium vs 3F Germany: Belgium have been performing much better than Germany lately.
1A Italy vs 2C Ukraine: Ukraine don’t appear to have the firepower to trouble Italy’s defense.
1F France vs 3B Russia: France are one of the most talented and deep sides in Europe.
2D Croatia vs 2E Sweden: This will come down to the wire but Croatia will just edge it.
1E Spain vs 3C North Macedonia: North Macedonia will have done well to get this far.
1D England vs 2F Portugal: Portugal will be more battle tested from their stronger group.
1C Netherlands vs 3D Scotland: Netherlands will have the edge on talent and experience.
2A Turkey vs 2B Denmark: Denmark are always a tough out and have more difference makers.
Belgium vs Italy: Belgium will make up for their defeat in Euro 2016 as they’re stronger now.
France vs Croatia: A similar result as the 2018 World Cup Final with France being superior.
Spain vs Portugal: Portugal’s stars seem to be more consistent than Spain’s currently.
Netherlands vs Denmark: Netherlands’ superior firepower will end the Danes’ run.
Belgium vs France: Another dose of history repeating itself between two of the favorites.
Portugal vs Netherlands: Netherlands’ easier run catches up to them as they fall to Portugal
France vs Portugal: An Mbappe vs Ronaldo matchup will be must see television, with France just getting over the line and making amends for their loss in the Euro 2016 Final.
I hope reading this got you more excited for the upcoming matches, perhaps even as excited as me! Let me know your thoughts and predictions in the comments or on Twitter @IvanOrnelas2.