The PL is guaranteed at least one spot in the semis once Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur conclude their quarterfinal clash at the Etihad Stadium. Mauricio Pochettino‘s side holds a narrow 1-0 lead on Pep Guardiola and Co., but must protect — or build upon — their advantage without the services of world-class forward Harry Kane (ankle ligament damage). Man City’s ongoing pursuit of the unprecedented quadruple hinges upon overturning the deficit.
The other remaining PL side, Liverpool, takes a 2-0 lead to Portugal, where they’ll attempt to send Porto out of the competition and reach back-to-back semifinals for the first time since 2008. Jurgen Klopp‘s side advanced all the way to the final in 2018 before the Reds fell to Real Madrid in Kiev, Ukraine.
Barcelona and Ajax were the first two sides to reach the semis on Tuesday.
Below is the full schedule for Wednesday’s games, and PST will have you covered with recaps, analysis and reaction from both games.
Wednesday’s UCL quarterfinal schedule
Manchester City v. Tottenham Hotspur – 3 p.m. ET kickoff
Milner admitted this week that it’s been nice for Liverpool to receive plaudits from all over the world regarding their exciting brand of attacking soccer, but it matters very little if they can’t soon secure a first major trophy under Jurgen Klopp.
Indeed, Porto manager Sergio Conceicao, whose side will host the Reds in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday, has joined the chorus in praising Liverpool for playing the game in a way which is very pleasing on the eye.
“I like the Liverpool dynamics. I like the Liverpool game model,” he said this week. “I like the way they play and the way they are with the ball, and also without it. It is similar to how I see football and in a lot of these moments in a game they are the best team in the world.”
It’s the last little bit against which Milner pushed back — “the best team in the world.” Whether it’s the Champions League or the Premier League, only a shiny piece of silverware can validate such a title — quotes from the Guardian:
“That’s a nice compliment, and you get those compliments by playing good football over a sustained period. But to be that, you have to win trophies. That’s something we haven’t done yet and something we are trying to do this season. There are a lot of good teams left in the Champions League and it’s down to us to prove that and win these games and hopefully win at least one trophy this season. But there are a lot of good teams between us and the last game of the season. We have to keep improving and keep playing as we have been at the moment.”
Liverpool lead Porto 2-0 after their victory in the first leg at Anfield last week.
“We have a small advantage but everything can turn very quickly so it’s important to come here with ambition, to stick with our basics as usual but if we come here with the mentality to score goals it’s going to make the game harder for Manchester City,” said Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. “We know it’s going to be tough, we’re going to suffer, but it’s important to be ready in our minds not just to defend but to be ambitious in our performance. … The mentality is very important in a big game like this one and we’ll see what we will deserve.”
On the City side, there’s good news in that Pep Guardiola’s possession-based, attack-heavy model doesn’t yield a lot of chances and the players will be well-drilled when teams play on the counter.
Pep Guardiola obviously knows how to motivate players, but he used the press conference to get City supporters in the right frame of mind. He basically dared them not to find a high level at the Etihad Stadium. From The Manchester Evening News:
“Do it for the guys, they are so proud,” Guardiola said. “We need them in our bad moments, at this stage we cannot go through. … I want to see that they want to get to the semi finals, not just the players, the fans too. I want to see that.”
Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool would need to fall flat on their face at the Estadio do Dragao, relatively speaking, to avoid a second-straight semifinal.
The Reds hold a 2-0 advantage after one leg at Anfield, which means Porto would require a three goals or better win to advance in Liverpool’s place.
That’s not to say Porto lacks the fire power to score, but one goal from the visitors means the hosts will need to bag four. Liverpool has only allowed three goals once this season, in a 4-3 defeat of Crystal Palace, and last allowed four against Roma in last season’s UCL semis.
Ernesto Valverde wouldn’t have minded a second goal, or several more, but the Blaugranas set up for a 1-0 win at Old Trafford and got exactly that.
Manchester United – Relieved.
Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s team was also punchless on offense, but certainly not inoffensive with its punch in a physical match, and they’ll also be relieved that the OGS era of Red Devils football did not involve a blowout home loss to his best opponent yet.
Anyone who watched Wednesday’s first leg in Amsterdam and not just the highlight of Ronaldo’s headed goal will know that Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, and Ajax’s 18-7 shot advantage was not misleading: Ajax should be leading, not level at 1-1.
Juventus – Tired.
The Old Lady was stout at the back, but produced its goal via its lone shot on target. Turin will be a different beast, or Cristiano Ronaldo’s dreams of a UCL four-peat are dead.
Moussa Marega gave Virgil Van Dijk everything he could handle, even winning the battle, but Alisson Becker’s saves made and Liverpool’s clinical finishing likely mean the end for Porto despite both teams producing the same amount of chances at Anfield.
Liverpool – Gleeful.
Liverpool knows how much better it is than it’s been over the past few weeks, and to escape Tuesday’s so-so display with a 2-0 lead is like putting a quarter in the cosmetic jewelry dispenser and seeing a blue diamond spit into your palm (and the confidence that comes from making the journey to the final last season really begins to pay off now).
After the loss to Man City at Wembley on a substandard pitch, Spurs knew they could beat City and will be pleased to have done just that without conceding an away goal; Score at the Etihad and watch City open up wider.
Manchester City – Bemused.
The City players will be looking at their wizard of a manager and wondering why he didn’t trust the team that got them there, keeping Kevin De Bruyne amongst several on the bench, and will also be perplexed that those changes so drastically affected what’s otherwise been a controlling side.