Champions League quarterfinal second legs: Predictions and key battles
Last week's first legs in the four Champions League quarterfinals offered up a contrast of games that all entertained in their own way and, crucially, kept the ties alive into their respective second legs.
Can Liverpool hang on at Porto? Will Manchester City thrash Tottenham? We get you ready for the second legs.
Jump to: Man City vs. Tottenham
Porto vs. Liverpool
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM THE FIRST LEG: Porto never quite go away. While Liverpool scored two first-half goals and saw out the tie, the visitors fought back gamely and came close to scoring an away goal, despite key absentee Hector Herrera. Liverpool also aren't the type of side who are at their best when they manage leads.
WHAT WE CAN EXPECT FROM THE RETURN LEG: Porto attack with speed and precision, so it will be tempting for Liverpool to unleash their vaunted front three on the counter. But Jurgen Klopp has talked repeatedly about the threat they pose, so we should see more of a toe-to-toe contest.
WHAT LIVERPOOL HAVE TO DO TO REACH THE SEMIFINAL: If they find the net at any point, Porto would need to score four times to advance, and you simply can't see that happening. That's something Liverpool can't lose sight of. Be aggressive in midfield, push the full-backs up and remember who you are.
WHAT PORTO HAVE TO DO TO REACH THE SEMIFINAL: Yacine Brahimi was a problem for Liverpool in the second half, and with Herrera back to stiffen up the middle of the park, Porto can dictate play. Moussa Marega will need to have his finishing boots on: Alisson twice denied him one-on-one at Anfield.
BATTLE TO WATCH: Virgil van Dijk vs. Pepe. We'll likely only see this one on set-pieces but it will be a proper, old-school clash between two defensive heavyweights. Few players are as disruptive as Pepe; few are as commanding as van Dijk.
WILD CARD/STORYBOOK SCENARIO: Iker Casillas was winning Champions Leagues when Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were still in elementary school. Porto can't afford to concede and it would be Disneyesque if "San Iker" preserves a victory.
FINAL PREDICTION: Porto 2-2 Liverpool (Liverpool advance 4-2 on aggregate). Porto can score when they need to, but Liverpool have tons of firepower and this has the hallmarks of an open game.
Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM THE FIRST LEG: Pep Guardiola's tinkering -- leaving out Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne for Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan -- probably did him no favors, and when City go the unfamiliar route of focusing on defending, they're not very good at it. (Witness the time and space allowed Christian Eriksen for Spurs' goal.) Heung-Min Son is a big-game player whose hunger is relentless and who poses matchup problems.
WHAT WE CAN EXPECT FROM THE RETURN LEG: Tottenham will be without Kane, and although their record in his absence is freakishly good, it's obviously a huge loss. Expect them to defend their aggregate lead and try to exploit the counter, while City try to conjure up one of those possession-heavy, old-school Guardiola performances.
WHAT TOTTENHAM HAVE TO DO TO REACH THE SEMIFINAL: Nicking a goal would force City to score three, which is a tall order even for them. Lucas Moura and Son have the quickness and athleticism to provide a first line of high pressing and a threat behind against City's back four.
WHAT CITY HAVE TO DO TO REACH THE SEMIFINAL: Stick to what they're good at: keeping possession, committing men forward and going vertical with intelligence and creativity, which they can do since Bernardo Silva is fit again, and De Bruyne, hopefully, won't be on the bench.
BATTLE TO WATCH: Sergio Aguero vs. Tottenham's defense. When the supply of chances is good, he's likely to score. When it's not, he can struggle to create his own. If Tottenham can stifle him, it may lead City to force things, either through individuals or shots from distance.
WILD CARD/STORYBOOK SCENARIO: He turned 34 last month and has scored all of two league goals in more than a season and a half at Tottenham, but Fernando Llorente is intelligent, an aerial threat and a hugely underrated passer. Imagine him coming off the bench to score the goal that sends Tottenham through.
FINAL PREDICTION: Manchester City 3-1 Tottenham (Man City advance 3-2 on aggregate). City are the better team, so you have to pick them to advance. But I'm not confident here. At all.