Soccer Champions League - Play-Offs Prediction
AC Milan vs Napoli - Match Preview
⚽ 12 April 2023 - 19:00 GMT +0
This promises to be a blockbuster UEFA Champions League (UCL) quarter-final tie, as two of Italy's three remaining teams in the competition meet for the first time in European action. AC Milan are at this stage of the UCL for the first time in 11 years and will be eager to grab an all-important first-leg lead, but with just one win in nine competitive home games (D3, L5) against Serie A’s (SA) runaway leaders Napoli, they look set for a stern test.
Despite that, Milan's confidence will have been boosted by their remarkable 4-0 win away to Napoli earlier this month. They followed that up with a disappointing goalless home draw with Empoli on Saturday, but another clean sheet was a big positive and shutouts have very much been a theme of Milan’s UCL journey as they chase a fifth-straight clean sheet in the competition for the first time since the 2004/05 edition.
Napoli bounced back from their heavy loss to the hosts by defeating Lecce 2-1 at the weekend, which was also coincidentally the scoreline by which they won here against Milan earlier in the campaign. That success on Saturday maintained their 18-point lead atop of SA, so with the league title all but in the bag, the Blues can focus entirely on this tie which will be their first-ever UCL quarter-final.
The away form of Luciano Spalletti’s side has been mightily impressive of late, something highlighted by the fact they’ve won eight straight games on the road, scoring at least twice in each. Their double here earlier in the season was notably the first time they’d scored 2+ times in seven away H2Hs against the Rossoneri, but as the UCL’s top scorers in this edition with 25 goals scored, a European tie could bring about another glut of goals on Milan turf.
📋 Players to watch: Just one more goal would see Olivier Giroud become the first AC Milan player since Zlatan Ibrahimović to score 5+ goals in a single UCL campaign. Napoli’s Giovanni Di Lorenzo scored at the weekend and boasts two strikes from his last three away UCL appearances.
⚡ Hot stat: Milan have failed to score in ten of their last 16 UCL knockout stage matches (W3, D4, L9).
Real Madrid vs Chelsea - Match Preview
⚽ 12 April 2023 - 19:00 GMT +0
For the third UEFA Champions League (UCL) campaign in a row Real Madrid and Chelsea meet in the knockout phase, with the winners of the last two ties going on to win the trophy. With both faltering in the league this term and losing by one-goal margins at the weekend, they’ll likely be throwing everything at winning Europe’s premier club competition to salvage their faltering seasons.
Madrid was stunned by Villarreal on Saturday night (L 3-2), a defeat that realistically ended their hopes of retaining their La Liga title so they will be fully focused on defending their record 14th UCL crown. As they’ve now won their last four meetings with English clubs, including last year’s final against Liverpool, Madrid certainly shouldn’t fear Chelsea’s arrival.
Chelsea’s Premier League woes continued at the weekend, with caretaker manager Frank Lampard unable to get them back to winning ways against Wolves (L 1-0). Their 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund to get this far was the high point of Graham Potter’s brief reign so they can be expected to again raise their game as they go in search of a third UCL title.
Having triumphed 3-2 after extra-time here last season despite ultimately losing 5-4 on aggregate, the Blues haven’t lost an away game on Spanish soil since March 2018 (W2, D2), which includes two visits to the Spanish capital to take on Real Madrid (W1, D1). However, they were beaten 1-0 by Dortmund in the first leg of their last-16 match in Germany so can take nothing for granted, especially as they’ve won just one of their last 13 competitive away games (D3, L9)!
📋 Players to watch: Vinícius Júnior scored between the 40th and 50th minute in both of Madrid’s last two fixtures and laid on an assist in each leg of the last season’s tie. Mateo Kovačić, who completed the scoring in Chelsea’s last away win, also registered an assist at the Bernabéu last term.
⚡ Hot streak: Each of Madrid’s last five UCL quarter-final home legs produced over 2.5 goals (W3, L2).
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