Football News

Rio Ferdinand makes bold Champions League quarter-final prediction — and picks his semi-finalists

By Ben Green

Published: 22:26, 17 March 2023

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has given his prediction on who will progress from the Champions League quarter-finals this season.

The draw was made on Friday morning at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, with Premier League clubs Manchester City and Chelsea finding out their fate in the final eight of the 2022/23 campaign.

On the same side of the bracket, Chelsea were pitted against Real Madrid, while Pep Guardiola was drawn against his former club Bayern Munich, meaning the winner from both contests will meet in the semi-finals.

One Italian club is guaranteed a place in the penultimate round on the other side of the bracket, with reigning Serie A champions Milan taking on current Italian league leaders Napoli, while Inter square off against Benfica in the other quarter-final.

When assessing the last-eight landscape, Ferdinand took to his Twitter account to make his prediction for who he believes will qualify for the semi-finals. He wrote: “Qualifying….. Real [Madrid], [Man] City, Inter [Milan], Napoli.”

Prior to City’s clash with RB Leipzig earlier this week — which they comprehensively won 8-1 on aggregate — Guardiola admitted his tenure at the Etihad will be judged upon how his side fare in the Champions League during his time at the club.

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Were Ferdinand’s prediction to come true, then the Catalan coach will face old El Clasico rivals and reigning European champions Real, before a potential match-up against either Italian high-flyers Napoli or Lombardy powerhouse Inter.

“It’s public opinion. It doesn’t mean I agree with that, but, absolutely, I’ll be judged on that,” Guardiola said about the pressure on him to win a European trophy.

“Since I arrived here, ahead of the first game in the Champions League, the first time sitting before the media, people said I was here to win the Champions League. I said: ‘What?’

“If I was manager of Real Madrid – that is not going to happen – I could understand it, but here, I don’t know. But I accept it. As much as I go through it’s not going to change that.”

Chelsea meanwhile booked their ticket in the quarter-final after overturning a one-goal deficit to eliminate Borussia Dortmund. The triumph against BVB provided Graham Potter some much-needed respite with the pressure growing on his shoulders.

The Blues famously met Real in last season’s quarter-finals, with Thomas Tuchel’s men losing the first leg at Stamford Bridge 3-1 thanks to a Karim Benzema hat-trick, before crumbling in the final 10 minutes at the Bernabeu after leading 4-3 on aggregate at one stage.