Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Five Aside [Print without images]

Monday, March 26, 2012
Real Madrid an overwhelming favorite


Benfica vs Chelsea, Tuesday 2:45 PM ET

Benfica puts a 10-match European-home-unbeaten streak on the line when it welcomes Chelsea for their Champions League quarterfinal match on Tuesday. Benfica is 2-0-2 at home in this year's Champions League and has held opponents to just two goals. These two clubs have never met before, but Benfica has failed to advance all three times it has met English competition in the European Cup quarterfinals.

Chelsea has struggled away from home in this year's Champions League, going 0-2-2 in its four away matches. While SPI gives an edge to Benfica in the first leg, it does predict that Chelsea scores an away goal in 58.8 percent of simulations. That would follow Chelsea's recent history, as it has scored an away goal in each of its previous seven quarterfinal appearances.

APOEL Nicosia vs Real Madrid, Tuesday 2:45 PM ET

APOEL Nicosia welcomes nine-time European champion Real Madrid to Cyprus hoping for its first-ever victory against Spanish competition. It will be a tall order as SPI gives APOEL only a 14.2 percent chance to hand Real Madrid its first loss of this Champions League campaign. APOEL has won three of its four home fixtures in this year's Champions League with its only loss coming to Shakhtar Donetsk on the final day of the group stage.

Real Madrid is 7-0-1 during this year's Champions League and has surrendered only four goals, fewest among all teams, including clubs that have already been eliminated. Jose Mourinho-led teams have never failed to advance when reaching this stage and are 7-1-2 in Champions League quarterfinal matches, with the only loss coming in 2005 to Bayern Munich while he was at Chelsea. SPI rates Real Madrid as an 88.1 percent favorite to advance to the semifinals, the biggest favorite of the four quarterfinal pairings.

AC Milan vs Barcelona, Wednesday 2:45 ET

Milan and Barcelona meet for the second time in this year's Champions League, having been paired together during the group stage. Barcelona took four points from the two meetings, earning a 2-2 draw at home and a 3-2 victory at Milan's San Siro. Milan will have to perform better than that to continue its streak of never losing a European Cup quarterfinals fixture at home in its previous 14 appearances at this stage (10-0-4). Milan will be without star defender Thiago Silva, who is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with a thigh injury.

Barcelona has won each of its last six away matches in the UEFA Champions League and has a scored 15 goals away from home in this tournament, as many as Milan has scored overall at this point. Barcelona has not lost an away match at this stage since losing 1-0 to Panathinaikos in 2002. Barcelona holds the overall edge against Milan in UEFA competitions (5-4-4), including a 3-2-1 record at the San Siro.

Marseille vs Bayern Munich, Wednesday 2:45 ET

SPI's closest quarterfinal matchup also features its closest fixture of the week, with Marseille possessing a slight edge at home over Bayern Munich. It is the first meeting between the two clubs, but both have experienced success against clubs from their opponent's country in the knockout rounds of UEFA tournaments. Marseille has won its last two knockout round matchups with German opposition and Bayern Munich defeated Lyon in the 2009-10 Champions League semifinals en route to a runner-up finish in that year's tournament.

Marseille has struggled at home both in the Champions League and in domestic competition this year, losing twice in four home Champions League fixtures and posting only six wins in 15 home matches in Ligue 1 this season (6-3-6). Marseille is in its first Champions League quarterfinal since winning the inaugural Champions League tournament in 1992-93 while Bayern Munich is appearing in its fourth quarterfinal in the last six seasons. Bayern is 1-2-1 away from home in this year's Champions League and has scored only three of its 18 goals in those away matches.