English trio take centre stage as CL quarters begin

The Champions League quarter-finals begin on Tuesday, with three of the four Premier League teams left in the competition all in action.


Last year’s beaten finalists Liverpool entertain Porto in their first leg, while it’s a big night for Tottenham, who host domestic rivals Manchester City at their brand-new stadium.


City and Liverpool favourites to progress


City and Liverpool, who are currently locked in a nip-and-tuck title battle domestically, are the favourites to progress into the last four but both will be tested. Spurs, in particular, may well fancy their chances, as they look to rescue a campaign that is on the verge of fizzling out badly.


Focusing on the all-Premier League showdown first, it’s set to be an occasion to remember at the newly-opened Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as Mauricio Pochettino’s side

welcome quadruple-chasing City – who are 1.83 to win on the night – for only their second game at the new venue.


Spurs picked up a nervy 2-0 win over Crystal Palace last week on their opening night and they will hope a crackling atmosphere at the 62,000 arena can inspire them, in what should be a tight first leg.


City have looked typically strong in recent weeks, as they attempt to do what no other English club has ever done – win all four top trophies in one season. They remain on course but it will take a huge effort to achieve it, even after they just about safely negotiated their FA Cup semi-final against Brighton over the weekend, and getting the better of Spurs over two games will be tricky.


Even though they have fallen away in the league, over two high-profile Champions League ties, Pochettino’s men can cause City real problems and a fast start on Tuesday will be on the agenda from the home side, who look decent value at 4.25 to win on Tuesday. The crowd will be whipped up to make things more difficult for the visitors and don’t be surprised to see the Londoners scoring first (2.50), in a first leg where over 2.5 goals looks likely (1.66).


Son and Jesus are main threats


Son Heung-min will go down in the record books as scoring Tottenham’s first goal at their new home and he will be a big threat on the night once again. The South Korean has hit 17 goals in all competitions this season, although only one in Europe, and will hope to add to that tally on Tuesday.


City, of course, will offer plenty going forward themselves and expect them to be the first away side to score at the stadium. Raheem Sterling is arguably in the form of his

life right now and seems to be City’s go-to man at the moment. Gabriel Jesus has been doing a solid job in Sergio Aguero’s recent absence. The Brazilian hit the winner at Wembley on Saturday, so will be another who approaches the game with plenty of confidence.


Overall, there shouldn’t be too much to choose between the two Premier League giants in the first leg, but Tottenham are tipped to edge it. Those looking for more value might want to go with 2-1 in the correct score market (11.75), while backing Spurs to win with both to score, available at 6.80, may also be wise.


Favourable draw for Reds


Liverpool were handed the most favourable draw of the English teams in the last eight when they were paired with Porto, who they brushed aside 5-0 on aggregate in the first knockout stage on their way to the final last year.


That tie was over after the first leg in Portugal finished 5-0 to the Reds and a repeat of such a feat seems highly unlikely, even if Jurgen Klopp’s side should take a decent lead (2-0 correct score – 5.40) with them to the second leg, away from home later in April.


The Merseysiders (1.29 to win the match) moved back to the top of the Premier League with another hard-fought win over Southampton on Friday, as Mohamed Salah ended his eight-game goal drought in stunning fashion with a fine breakaway goal. Liverpool have not been operating at their best in recent weeks, rather grinding out important wins as opposed to dismantling the opposition, but their record this season has to be hugely admired.


They are going toe-to-toe with a high-quality Man City side in the league and reached the last eight in Europe by convincingly winning 3-1 at Bayern Munich in the last round.


Klopp has built a tough, resilient outfit that has demonstrated an ability to win in different ways. They have proved supremely capable of digging in and turning draws into wins, while they remain hard to penetrate at the back and dangerous up front, even when not fully firing. Therefore, they should have too much for Porto over two games and are expected to progress into the last four.


Clean sheet needed


Salah should be back brimming with confidence following his strike at St Mary’s and could now go on a run in-front of goal, but Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are also in fine form and will ask the Porto defence plenty of questions.


One area the home side will want to improve on, however, is keeping clean sheets. They have not had a shutout since early March and have conceded at least one goal in their last five games. This looks like a great chance to put that record straight, though, and Liverpool to win to nil is available at 1.95.


Some may suggest Liverpool could be more inclined to prioritise their Premier League title challenge, but will not want to succumb to an unexpected exit at this stage against a Porto side (10.75 to win) that are still dangerous. Sergio Conceicao’s team sit top in the Primeira Liga and have won nine of their last 11 in all competitions, with their only defeat in that run being a narrow 2-1 loss to second-placed Benfica.


This looks a better Porto outfit than 12 months ago, that surely will not repeat the mistakes they made against the Reds in this competition last year. However, they are still short of the quality required to truly compete in the latter stages and Liverpool shouldn’t have too many issues overall.