UEFA Champions League predictions, picks: Real Madrid-Liverpool, Man City-Dortmund, Bayern-PSG, Chelsea-Porto

The business stage of the Champions League is upon us and you can catch all the action on Paramount+. Eight of Europe’s finest teams stand five games away from glory as the quarterfinals begin, starting with a Real Madrid Liverpool clash that pits two of the continent’s most successful teams against each other.

Add to that a re-run of last season’s final between Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland coming face-to-face with one of the many teams who want to sign him and Porto bidding to slay another giant in the form of Chelsea and it ends with a thrilling slate of matches with few clear favorites. So how will the first legs play out on Tuesday and Wednesday? Our panel of experts have their say below …

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Real Madrid vs. Liverpool

Date: Tuesday, April 6 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Live stream: Paramount+

Featured Game | Real Madrid vs. Liverpool

Rongen’s take: For all the history, this feels like a fixture between two sides oddly out of sorts. Madrid couldn’t handle Manchester City’s press in the last 16 last season and Liverpool, domestically at least, recently snapped out of a pitiful slump. A draw looks likely. Pick: Real Madrid 1, Liverpool 1

Romano’s take: Real Madrid’s great experience could be the difference-maker on such an important night, but Liverpool will keep their chances open heading into the return leg. The key man for this one will be Karim Benzema. Pick: Real Madrid 2, Liverpool 1

Echegaray’s take: This is the type of fixture where I aim to nullify each other’s strengths, cancel each other out and then see what’s left. Liverpool’s most forceful asset is their attacking trio (which becomes a four when Diogo Jota comes in) and the only way for Real Madrid to take care of them is to have a dominant back line and stout center-back pairing. Problem is .. no Sergio Ramos, and that’s huge. So big in fact, it’s the reason why I am going with Jurgen Klopp’s Reds to win this first leg. Sergio Ramos is that important. Pick: Real Madrid 1, Liverpool 2

Chiu’s take: History shows: No Sergio Ramos, less chance of success for Real Madrid (they’re 3-8 W-L without him in UCL). Speaking of Ramos, Mohamed Salah may have added incentive from their incident in the 2018 final. I expect a solid performance from him. Despite Alisson’s 16 clean sheets since 2017, I see Real Madrid making it interesting with a goal. Pick: Real Madrid 1, Liverpool 2

Johnson’s take: Klopp’s men need Champions League success to save their season while Zinedine Zidane and his players could still win La Liga. I can see a narrow Liverpool win in Madrid. Pick: Real Madrid 1, Liverpool 2

Benge’s take: Their win against Arsenal was quite possibly Liverpool’s best performance this season and a healthy reminder of how devastating they can be in attack. A center-back pairing of Ozan Kabak and Nathaniel Phillips is certainly the weak point, but you have to get the ball of Thiago and Fabinho before you can expose it. Real Madrid might be able to once but they may feel Sergio Ramos’ absence more keenly than Liverpool feel Virgil van Dijk’s. Pick: Real Madrid 1, Liverpool 2

Herrera’s take: Real Madrid have struggled to look dominant early this season, but they’re finally clicking despite the massive injury woes. Real will connect on goal first but Liverpool will keep making statements in their UCL games with Diogo Jota as the X-factor. Pick: Real Madrid 1, Liverpool 2

Goodman’s take: A couple of strong performances in the Premier League combined with easily dispatching RB Leipzig in the round of 16 suggests that Jurgen Klopp’s team has finally turned the corner and figured out how to cope with their defensive injuries. The key has been moving Fabinho back into the midfield to shield the more inexperienced center-backs. Madrid, meanwhile have injuries of their own and will rely on the ageless wonder Karim Benzema to keep them in the match. Pick: Real Madrid 1, Liverpool 2

Manchester City vs. Borussia Dortmund

Date: Tuesday, April 6 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Live stream: Paramount+

Featured Game | Manchester City vs. Borussia Dortmund

Rongen’s take: City have been imperious since mid-December, winning 24 out of 25 games in all competitions. Erling Haaland — linked to a move to City — is capable of turning any game upside down, but Dortmund has structural issues that leave them fifth in the Bundesliga and in danger of missing out on next season’s UCL. A comfortable win for Pep Guardiola and Co. Pick: Manchester City 3, Borussia Dortmund 1

Romano’s take: Manchester City can dominate this match. The real danger as usual is Erling Haaland, but Borussia Dortmund are struggling a lot in recent months and City are in excellent condition. City will have the tie in hand by the end of the first 90 minutes. Pick: Manchester City 3, Borussia Dortmund 1

Echegaray’s take: Erling Haaland is the talk of the town these days, and rightfully so. He is an absolute force outside and inside the box. But the problem is that against Man City, arguably the best team in Europe right now, you need more than Haaland. Yes, you need more. BVB’s midfield will be overwhelmed by City’s ridiculous movement and synchronicity. The fact that you have a fresh Joao Cancelo, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling really doesn’t help. Pick: Manchester City 2, Borussia Dortmund 0

Chiu’s take: Borrusia Dortmund are without Jadon Sancho (thigh) against a Manchester City that has won 26 of their last 27 matches in all competitions. It would be silly to bet against Manchester City at this point. Even though Manchester City have not allowed a UCL goal in 706 minutes, I expect them to at least concede because of Erling Haaland, who has scored 20 goals in 14 Champions League games. It is hard to argue against that stat. Pick: Manchester City 3, Borussia Dortmund 1

Johnson’s take: The Germans need an encouraging performance while Pep Guardiola’s side is arguably the strongest at this moment in time. I think City will win with Dortmund pushing them closer than most. Pick: Manchester City 2, Borussia Dortmund 1

Benge’s take: Pep Guardiola’s side looks like bringing truth to the cliche that defense wins championships. Not since Matchday 1 have they let in a goal and the Ruben Dias-John Stones tandem might be enough to stop even Erling Haaland, or at least constrict supply lines to him. Up the other end, you can rest assured that City will score, they ought to have one foot in the semifinal by the time the first leg is done. Pick: Manchester City 2, Borussia Dortmund 0

Herrera’s take: Two heavyweights will battle it out, but expect a low-scoring draw with Erling Haaland getting the equalizer. Pick: Manchester City 1, Borussia Dortmund 1

Goodman’s take: Erling Haaland may get all the attention (and might even be headed for Manchester City next season) but it’s the City defensive masterclasses that Pep Guardiola consistently orchestrates that will prevail. Dortmund’s defense meanwhile simply isn’t good enough to withstand the prolonged pressure they will likely find themselves under. Pick: Manchester City 2, Borussia Dortmund 0

Bayern Munich vs. Paris Saint-Germain

Date: Wednesday, April 7 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Live stream: Paramount+

Featured Game | Bayern Munich vs. PSG

Rongen’s take: Any talk of a Bayern downturn this season is extremely relative, but no Robert Lewandowski? Neymar should be back, but that is a mixed blessing. This is a repeat of last season’s final, when Bayern was probably a more comfortable winner than the 1-0 scoreline suggested, thus a Bayern win. Pick: Bayern Munich 2, PSG 1

Romano’s take: Kylian Mbappe and his teammates know that the opportunity to challenge Bayern without Robert Lewandowski is huge. That’s why PSG can already win the first leg on a very difficult field such as the Allianz Arena. Pick: Bayern Munich 1, PSG 2

Echegaray’s take: No Robert Lewandowski is incredibly important but due to squad depth, it’s not detrimental. It’s big, but not GIGANTIC. Same for PSG and Marco Verratti. These are two teams with massive depth so they key will be how to contain them in key moments. I look at Bayern Munich and I see a team more equipped to do this … but this is all conjecture. To me, PSG’s moment is now and Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and the rest of the squad need to completely deliver in order to finally win the Champions League. I think it starts here. Pick: Bayern Munich 2, PSG 3

Chiu’s take: Robert Lewandowski’s absence had me second-guessing Bayern Munich winning this tie for a second, but after seeing the Marco Verratti news, I am back to expecting an even match. Thomas Muller will be the key to providing the threat that Lewandowski’s absence leaves. Both teams will be missing key players, and they will both get their chances, but I don’t see either side coming out on top until the second leg. Pick: Bayern Munich 1, PSG 1

Johnson’s take: Both sides are missing key men in Robert Lewandowski and Marco Verratti while PSG’s defeat over the weekend to Lille as Bayern beat Leipzig puts Mauricio Pochettino’s men back in the underdog role. A mini COVID-19 outbreak will not help the Parisiens, but I can see a score draw in Germany. Pick: Bayern Munich 1, PSG 1

Benge’s take: The weekend saw Bayern and PSG both play games that required mental fortitude, composure and an ability to punish mistakes. Only one of them showed it, Bayern winning at RB Leipzig while their opponents on Wednesday fell to Lille in a top of the table clash. These are both very good teams with the quality to win the whole tournament and as such it comes down to intangibles, like who do you believe in as a winning team at this stage of the competition? There can be only one answer. Pick: Bayern Munich 1, PSG 0

Herrera’s take: Injury troubles for both teams means it might be an open affair. Potential for no Robert Lewandowski doesn’t mean Bayern are sunk. Joshua Kimmish and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will make things difficult for PSG, while Kylian Mbappe and Neymar will be tasked to carry the team once more. Pick: Bayern Munich 2, PSG 2

Goodman’s take: This is simply not a vintage PSG side. Both during Thomas Tuchel’s time in charge earlier this season and now under Mauricio Pochettino PSG has struggled domestically in ways they haven’t since they became major players on the international scene. Yes Robert Lewandowski missing out gives PSG a lifeline, but the gulf in quality between these two teams this season has been larger than it seems. Pick: Bayern Munich 3, PSG 1

Porto vs. Chelsea

Date: Wednesday, April 7 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Live stream: Paramount+

Featured Game | Porto vs. Chelsea

Rongen’s take: Porto are exceptionally well-organized under Sergio Conceição, but the two legs against Atletico Madrid in the last 16 are arguably as good a performance as Chelsea ever produced under Thomas Tuchel. Pick: Porto 0, Chelsea 2

Romano’s take: Porto have great defensive skills that have already put Juventus in crisis, but Chelsea are playing for the opportunity of an entire season. They can’t fail, even if they come from an unfortunate result in the Premier League. Pick: Porto 0, Chelsea 2

Echegaray’s take: After the 5-2 destruction at the hands of West Brom, I don’t know anything anymore. Less about Chelsea. We can talk about the red card to Thiago Silva all we want but the biggest problem for Chelsea is no N’Golo Kante. He is so important. Porto can get something out of Chelsea here, they just have to be disciplined, much like the Juventus tie. Tuchel would rather eat poison than lose so big again so he’s going to emphasize resiliency, which will make this game super tricky to figure out. That’s why I’m being boring. Pick: Porto 0, Chelsea 0

Chiu’s take: Porto’s two top goalscorers, Medhi Taremi and Sergio Olivera, will be out due to suspension. Without them, I feel Porto will struggle to score, so they will have to rely on their strength at the back. Porto goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin had an impressive 10 saves in the last UCL match against Juventus. I see Porto keeping Chelsea scoreless in this first leg. Pick: Porto 0, Chelsea 0

Johnson’s take: After Thomas Tuchel saw his team’s defensive solidity disintegrate against WBA, the German will emphasize the importance of a clean sheet in Seville. Not gifting Chelsea an away goal will suit Porto ahead of leg two. Pick: Porto 0, Chelsea 0

Benge’s take: That 5-2 defeat to West Brom is surely an aberration for a Chelsea side who can be a bit dull but are undoubtedly secure and effective under Thomas Tuchel. They are masters of only letting opponents take bad shots and for all that Porto proved against Juventus that they are not a team to be taken lightly one would suspect that the Blues individual quality will carry the day. Pick: Porto 0, Chelsea 1

Herrera’s take: Porto will be quick to try and counter against Chelsea but it won’t be enough against a Blues side that went undefeated in the month of March before the weekend slip-up to West Brom under new manager Thomas Tuchel. Pick: Porto 1, Chelsea 2

Goodman’s take: Chelsea have been a defensive possession machine since Thomas Tuchel took over, and it won’t change away from home against Porto. They won’t leave the kinds of careless gaps that Juventus did for Porto to exploit, and while their attacking may not be pretty, it’ll ultimately get the job done. Pick: Porto 0, Chelsea 1

Thanks for checking us out, and good luck with your picks!

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