EXCLUSIVE: Real Madrid, PSG or Bayern Munich? Leo Neiva predicts Champions League winner


EXCLUSIVE: Real Madrid, PSG or Bayern Munich? Leo Neiva predicts Champions League winner

Could Vinicius Junior have an impact for Real Madrid in the latter stages of the Champions League?
Could Vinicius Junior have an impact for Real Madrid in the latter stages of the Champions League?Reuters
Leo Neiva (46) has tipped either Real Madrid or Bayern Munich to emerge as winners of this season’s Champions League.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Los Blancos progressed to the semi-final after beating reigning champions Manchester City on penalties after a 4-4 aggregate score.

Despite the English side's dominance in the fiercely contested match at the Etihad Stadium, it was the Spaniards who advanced, with goalkeeper Andriy Lunin making two crucial saves during the shootout.

Now, they'll square off against Bayern Munich in pursuit of a final berth, while Paris Saint-Germain faces the challenge of overcoming Borussia Dortmund for a shot at capturing the elusive trophy.

With the last four pairings sparking discussions worldwide, the former coach of Saint Kitts and Nevis national team, who also led Brazil’s America, Sudan’s Al-Merrikh SC, and Tanzania’s Young Africans, has weighed in on the likely winner of Europe's premier club competition.

“Predicting which teams will reach the final is quite challenging, especially with the intensity of these big derby semi-final matchups,” Neiva told Flashscore.com in an exclusive interview.

“However, when we look back at historical data and analyse past performances, it seems probable that the eventual champion will come from the team that emerges victorious in the Real Madrid versus Bayern Munich showdown.”

Even at that, he is not ruling out the possibility of PSG of making a bold statement in their quest to emerge as champions of Europe for the first time in their history.

Luis Enrique’s Parisians secured a 4-1 victory over Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final, clinching the tie with a 6-4 aggregate score. 

In doing so, they cemented their status as the only team that has knocked out Blaugrana the most in the tournament's history, having done so in the quarter-finals in 1994-95, the round of 16 in 2020-21, and now the quarter-finals in 2023-24.

Also, Luis Enrique became the first ex-Barcelona manager to eliminate the Spanish side from a Champions League knockout stage tie and only the third Spaniard to do so after Rafael Benítez with Liverpool in 2006-07 (round of 16) and Vicente del Bosque with Real Madrid in 2001-02 (semi-finals).

“Then there is Paris Saint-Germain, a team steadily improving and growing stronger in the Champions League over the years,” he continued.

“Now, they seem like serious contenders for the title. I believe the outcome could also hinge on the individual brilliance and technical skill of players like Vinicius Junior, Mbappe, and Rodrygo.”

When asked about the player who has impressed him the most in the competition this season, the well-travelled Brazilian tactician did not hesitate to name two from Real Madrid and one from PSG.

Neiva added: “Without hesitation, I'd choose Vinicius Junior, Mbappe, and Rodrygo.

“They're technical players who've not just performed exceptionally but have also been game-changers for their respective clubs.

“Assuming there are no fitness issues, they could play pivotal roles for their teams in this crucial phase of the Champions League.”

Kylian Mbappe's stats in recent seasons
Kylian Mbappe's stats in recent seasonsFlashscore

After his goal against Barcelona, Mbappe has now scored in his last five away Champions League games against Spanish teams, making him only the second player to do so against the same nation in the competition along with Cristiano Ronaldo versus German teams.

Rodrygo's four goals against Manchester City marked his highest tally against a single opponent in all competitions for Los Blancos, making him the first player since Karim Benzema in the 2021-22 semi-finals to score in both legs of a Champions League knockout stage tie against City.

Since the 2019-20 season, this marks the first time there would be no English teams in the Champions League semi-finals. Nevertheless, the coach believes it's not indicative of a decline for Premier League teams.

"First and foremost, credit is due to English clubs, with three of the past five winners coming from there. The absence of English teams in the semis this time isn't necessarily a sign of decline,” he suggested.

“It's important to acknowledge that the Champions League is incredibly competitive, often filled with upsets and surprises. 

“Who would have predicted that reigning champions Manchester City would exit at this stage?"

The final of this season’s Champions League will be played at the iconic Wembley Stadium, London on June 1st.

Shina Oludare
Shina OludareFlashscore News


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