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Champions League 2021 quarterfinals semi-finals draw, odds, fixture, statistics, goal scorers highlights, rankings

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Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi might both be missing for the first time in 15 years, but there’s still a heavyweight feel to the pointy end of this year’s Champions League.

Bayern Munich has barely missed a beat as it looks to defend its title and last year’s beaten finalist Paris St-Germain remains on track in its attempt to go one better.

Behind them arguably the form team on the continent in Manchester City is looming ominously, while perennial contenders Real Madrid and four other clubs in Liverpool, Chelsea, Porto and Borussia Dortmund whose domestic seasons haven’t gone entirely according to plan are throwing everything they have at a European crown.

Here’s how each team ranks ahead of Saturday’s draw for the quarterfinal and semi-final stage.

Is it finally Manchester City’s time? (Photo by Peter Kohalmi / AFP)
Is it finally Manchester City’s time? (Photo by Peter Kohalmi / AFP)Source: AFP

8. Borussia Dortmund

Currently languishing in fifth place in the Bundesliga — 16 points behind Bayern — Dortmund was fortunate to draw a Sevilla side that made it out of the group stage despite a pretty ordinary goal difference in the round of 16.

They weren’t overly convincing in either leg, winning 3-2 in Spain before a 2-2 draw at the Westfalenstadion.

But where there’s Erling Haaland, there’s hope. The 20-year-old prodigy is the competition’s leading goalscorer with 10 — four more than Juventus’ Alvaro Morata.

7. Porto

Ronaldo might be a prince in Portugal but Porto had no problems sending him packing in the round of 16 as it progressed from a tie that finished 4-4 on away goals.

That’s likely to be its last moment of glory in this year’s competition though. Sergio Conceicao’s side managed a 0-0 draw at home against Manchester City in the group stage but found it more difficult in a 3-1 defeat in England.

6. Liverpool

The Reds have endured a stunning fall from grace on the domestic front in 2021 but they’ve been able to take care of business in the Champions League after falling out in the round of 16 last year.

Five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with nine Premier League games remaining, Jurgen Klopp’s outfit is no guarantee to be back in this competition next season and it’s hard to see them giving it a real shake this time around.

5. Real Madrid

They were far from convincing during the group stage but survived before being handed the comfortable task of disposing of Atalanta in the round of 16.

But this isn’t a Real line-up with the same firepower as previous editions and they’ll be relying on another favourable draw to make it to the final four.

Sergio Ramos (right) is still getting it done at the top level. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)Source: AFP

4. Chelsea

Back in the last eight for the first since 2014, the Blues remain undefeated in this year’s competition and have conceded just two goals in eight games.

Thomas Tuchel is dreaming of back-to-back finals after going so close with PSG last year.

“I’m pretty sure no-one wants to play against us,” said Tuchel, after eliminating Atletico Madrid and ending a run of four straight round of 16 exits for Chelsea.

The Blues can’t take their eyes off the ball domestically with West Ham continuing to fight for fourth place in the Premier League, but this is their time to add to their 2012 Champions League crown.

3. Paris St-Germain

After losing their first two group stage games, PSG has begun looking like the team that dominated most of last year’s competition.

A 4-1 away win against Barcelona without Neymar set up its round of 16 tie and with Kylian Mbappe playing as well as anyone they can go toe-to-toe with the best.

2. Manchester City

They have the deepest squad, a substantial buffer at the top of the English Premier League and have barely broken a sweat at Champions League level. Pep Guardiola’s team has everything going for it and arguably should be favourite, but until the Sky Blues win it all at this level there will always be a skerrick of doubt. Continuing to compete in four competitions is also a task none of the other contenders are burdened by.

1. Bayern Munich

The Germans remain an offensive juggernaut the likes we’ve rarely seen and the road to Istanbul runs through them until someone knocks them off.

A seventh title would move Bayern Munich level with AC Milan in second place on the Champions League totem pole, behind Real Madrid (13).

Robert Lewandowski is a player to watch. (Photo by Attila KISBENEDEK / POOL / AFP)Source: AFP

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Liverpool warned Jordan Henderson will have 'options' as Reds face own Paul Pogba scenario

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Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson will be out of contract at the end of next season.

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Real Madrid could sign three free agents as Raphael Varane seals Man Utd transfer

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Raphael Varane has a deal in principle to join Manchester United this summer.

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qualifying, results, Celtic vs Midtjylland, reaction, Ange Postecoglou, score, goals, football news

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Celtic failed in their latest Champions League campaign Wednesday, going down 2-1 after extra-time at Denmark’s Midtjylland as the Scots crashed out in the second round of qualifying 3-2 on aggregate.

Celtic, the first British club ever to be crowned European champions in 1967, getting in a year ahead of Manchester United, had only themselves to blame as they squandered the lead to drop into the far less lucrative Europa League, where they will now take on Czech side Jablonec.

Callum McGregor fired in a scorcher to give them hope, volleying home following a corner to put Celtic ahead three minutes after half-time.

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Manchester United set to sign Varane | 00:35

James Forrest should then have all but killed the tie, only to fluff a gilt-edged chance for the visitors just after coming on.

The Glaswegians, under their new Australian coach Ange Postecoglou, lived to regret that as Midtjylland drew level just after the hour as Awer Mabil, with 17 Australia caps to his credit, headed beyond keeper Scott Bain.

Celtic promptly fell behind on the night and on aggregate four minutes into the first period of extra-time, Raphael Onyedika firing home from close range amid confusion in the Celtic defence after a freekick routine.

The reaction was fierce post-game but in defence of Postecoglou.

“No surprise Celtic going out,” ex-Celtic player Chris Sutton tweeted.

“Ange Postecoglou has been dealt the worst hand of any Celtic manager in the last 20 years. The powers that be should be ashamed of dealing him this hand.

“Years of acting too slow and bringing in players too late but this season is something else.”

Speaking on Premier Sports, Sutton was adamant none of the blame should be placed on Postecoglou.

“Dominic McKay should be phoning up Ange Postecglou and apologising,” he said.

“This is on the board and not the manager”

John Hartson, meanwhile, warned that a return towards consistent success will not come quickly.

“Celtic are in a massive transition,” he said on Premier Sports.

“It’s going to take, for me, two years to get back on track.”

“It’s a huge blow but I think you’ll find a huge number of Celtic supporters who won’t be surprised,” Sky Sports expert Andy Walker said.

“The lack of preparation for season-defining games has left the new manager cruelly exposed.”

The loss was described as a “catastrophe” but Postecoglou hit back in an interview with BBC, declaring: “This is far from the end”.

“It’s pretty strong language mate, I don’t know what your version of catastrophic is but it certainly doesn’t fit my definition of what happened tonight,” he said.

“This is obviously a disappointing night, disappointing we didn’t get through, I can’t fault the effort of the players, I think they worked their socks off, we controlled the game.

“We scored and then had a good chance to go 2-0 up and then straight away they scored and we lost a bit of momentum.

“No, catastrophic to me means the end. This is far from the end.

“You are suggesting this is a club falling apart and our season is finished, I don’t see it that way.

“Yes, it’s absolutely disappointing, Champions League football is a priority but I can’t ask any more of the players.

“We have our league campaign starting on Saturday.

“Blame? We don’t blame people, I take responsibility, the responsibility is mine.

“You are using really strong language for something I don’t think merits that sort of view.”

The Danes now go on to face experienced Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven, who won 2-1 away at Turkey’s Galatasaray for a 7-2 aggregate success, in the third qualifying round.

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