Just 90 minutes lie between four teams and the UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul, Turkey, later this month ... well, that depends on whose predictions you agree with. While both English teams come into their semifinal second legs in the ascendancy, there is every chance that it might take extra time and indeed penalties to separate Manchester City from Paris Saint-Germain and then Real Madrid from Chelsea.
City won 2-1 in Paris and are perhaps the best placed to reach the final. Chelsea and Real Madrid are intriguingly poised at 1-1 following the first leg in Spain, at Stamford Bridge one of the competition's best defense faces off against a Madrid side who know just what is required to win in this competition.
All Champions League games can be viewed live and on demand on Paramount+. Let's get to the predictions:
Manchester City vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Rongen's take: Manchester City have won 10 of their 11 UEFA Champions matches this season (one draw), scoring 23 goals and conceding only four. Pep Guardiola is finally going back to the final. Pick: Manchester City 2, PSG 1 (City advance 4-2 on aggregate)
Romano's take: Get ready for a game full of emotions, champion skills and PSG fighting until the very end. However, City are my favorite here for the final. Pick: Manchester City 2, PSG 2 (City advance 4-3 on aggregate)
Chiu's take: The odds are very much in Man City's favor with a win, draw, or 1-0 loss putting them through to the final. However, I see PSG finding a way to pull this off. Neymar and Kylian Mbappe on the counter-attack are devastating for oppositions, though Manchester City do a good job defending these opportunities, only conceding once off a fast break (Opta) in all competitions. I see both teams capitalizing off of set pieces. Angel Di Maria's corner kicks are lethal and both sides have the most goals from direct free-kicks this UCL season, with PSG leading Man City 6-5. If Mbappe is healthy and firing on all cylinders, PSG will advance. Pick: Manchester City 1, PSG 2 (PSG advance via penalty kicks)
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Echegaray's take: The romantic in me wants a PSG comeback, where Neymar Jr and company -- even without Kylian Mbappe -- produce an inspiring performance, where they essentially disrupt Man City's calm, controlled demeanor and score early to make the matchup an anxious affair for the home side. As the game develops, City become more nervous and Mauricio Pochettino takes full advantage by adding a second in the latter stages, giving us free soccer and extra time. Who knows, this could be how it plays out. PSG after all ... are PSG, a team who have scored more than 100 goals this season. But the problem is that Pep Guardiola is at his absolute best when he is in control, and that's what worries me. This is a well-oiled machine who will totally dominate the narrative and having the best defensive unit Europe also helps. It's a draw on the night but City win in aggregate. Pick: Manchester City 1, PSG 1 (City advance 3-2 on aggregate)
Johnson's take: Mauricio Pochettino's men do enough to win on the night with a brave display, but see Pep Guardiola's side reach the final on away goals. Pick: Manchester City 0, PSG 1 (City advance 3-3 on away goals)
Benge's take: City proved in the second half last week that they have a level PSG can't reach when they apply a gameplan that works in their favor. Assuming they can overcome their well-founded fear of Mbappe and Neymar they should have the quality to ease through this tie. Pick: Manchester City 2, PSG 1 (City advance 4-2 on aggregate)
Gonzalez's take: Remember the PSG we saw in the first half against City? We see that for 90 minutes but with efficiency in the final third as the Parisians advance to the UCL final once again. Pick: Manchester City 2, PSG 3 (PSG advance 4-4 on away goals)
Herrera's take: PSG's hopes rest on Mbappe, who is carrying a knock into the away leg. Manchester City already carry a 2-1 advantage into the second leg and will punch their ticket to the final at home. Pick: Manchester City 2, PSG 1 (City advance 4-2 on aggregate)
Goodman's take: Mbappe isn't 100% and Manchester City come into this one with a lead and the best defensive in Europe. It's a tall task for PSG and ultimately City will hold the ball and force PSG to chase them, and then take advantage. Pick: Manchester City 2, PSG 0 (City advance 4-1 on aggregate)
Chelsea vs. Real Madrid
Rongen's take: A lone goal from Karim Benzema will secure another final for Zinedine Zidane and Co. Benz will become the outright fourth top scorer in the competition's history overtaking Raul (71). Pick: Chelsea 0, Real Madrid 1 (Real advance 2-1 on aggregate)
Romano's take: Real Madrid's experience will be the real key to this match. A semifinal like a battle, Chelsea know how to defend but Real know how to thrive on European nights. Benzema will be a key factor, too. Pick: Chelsea 1, Real Madrid 2 (Real advance 3-2 on aggregate)
Chiu's take: Since Real Madrid were only able to register one shot in the first leg, this could be a good sign for Chelsea keeping a cleansheet. N'Golo Kante proved to be the most important performer for Chelsea. If he continues to get in behind and create attacking possibilities in the second leg, Chelsea will be in good hands. But they have to shut down the Real Madrid midfield (Luka Modric and Toni Kroos) again. You would think I would have learned to not bet against the experience of Real Madrid, especially with Sergio Ramos returning to fitness, but I still see Chelsea making it to the final. Pick: Chelsea 0, Real Madrid 0 (Chelsea advance 1-1 on away goals)
Echegaray's take: This prediction is almost a carbon copy of Man City-PSG in the sense that Real Madrid enter this game with a similar predicament as the French side. Los Blancos know that in order to break down Chelsea's formidable unit, they're going to have to gamble and disrupt Thomas Tuchel's well-balanced approach. In other words, they're going to have to go for it. As opposed to Mauricio Pochettino's task, however, this is a more doable situation for Zinedine Zidane because all he needs is a goal, and he can afford to be slightly more patient in his approach. So I am predicting the complete opposite of the first leg in this one. A cautious first half where both teams are feeling each other out, with Real Madrid going for the jugular in the second. I just don't think it's going to happen and just like 2019, we'll have an all-Premier League final once again and Thomas Tuchel will return to the Championship game for the second year in a row. Pick: Chelsea 2, Real Madrid 1 (Chelsea advance 3-2 on aggregate)
Johnson's take: Zinedine Zidane and his players get the win to reach the final as Thomas Tuchel's current and former clubs fall just short of a date with destiny. Pick: Chelsea 1, Real Madrid 2 (Real advance 3-2 on aggregate)
Benge's take: Chelsea have conceded two goals in the knockout rounds and both of them have been spectacular volleys that deserve to rank among the top goals of the tournament. That is what it takes to breach Thomas Tuchel's defense and for all the attacking quality of Madrid there is no reason to believe the Blues can't replicate their counter-punching excellence from the win over Atletico Madrid. Pick: Chelsea 2, Real Madrid 0 (Chelsea advance 3-1 on aggregate)
Gonzalez's take: The Blues' defense delivers once again, keeping Real Madrid from scoring as Timo Werner comes up big in the semifinal to send the Blues through. Pick: Chelsea 1, Real Madrid 0 (Chelsea advance 2-1 on aggregate)
Herrera's take: Real Madrid's experience will likely carry them through. Chelsea have been reliant on their defense throughout the season, but when the moment has arrived for them to put up big goals, they simply haven't. Benzema knows how to shine under UCL lights. Pick: Chelsea 1, Real Madrid 2 (Real advance 3-2 on aggregate)
Goodman's take: Chelsea, like Manchester City, are masters of defensive possession. Real Madrid are banged up and will struggle to field a coherent starting XI. Benzema is always dangerous but if any team can keep him from getting chances it's Chelsea. The soccer may not be scintillating but Chelsea will get the job done and set up an all England Champions League final. Pick: Chelsea 1, Real Madrid 0 (Chelsea advance 2-1 on aggregate)
Thanks for checking us out, and good luck with your picks!