For the first time in recent history the quarterfinal draw of EUFA Champions League involves the biggest of the names in European football. When Luis Figo stepped up to draw the balls he had a star studded line-up to pick from – 3 best teams in La Liga, 2 most consistent performers in Europe from England, 2 teams who shared the Bundesliga titles between them and also played last years’ CL final and the reigning French Champions. Only possible omission is presence of an Italian team but I would not swap any of the current 8 teams for any of the Italian teams. Well on a second thought, I may consider swapping either BVB or Manchester United with Juventus. But let’s not distract Juventus and let them focus on Europa League for the time being and we focus on the mouth-watering contests at hand.
Manchester United v/s Bayern Munich
The most talked after tie of the draw not because it’s the most competitive but rather the talk is about the margin of Bayern’s win. Some of the Bayern supporters have already started thinking about semi-finals. Other than the form of the teams and squads, the big contrast in this tie is the footballing philosophy of the two managers. Pep Guardiola, who was courted by United to replace Sir Alex, is the most tactically advanced manager of this generation and his opposite number is a proponent of an outdated footballing philosophy. Can United take advantage of not being favourites and play fearlessly as they have nothing to lose? Or can Moyes make Man United punch above their weight, like he used to do with Everton. With some luck, one never knows may be Man United can nick this one. However, purely on footballing considerations, I can’t see Man United beating Bayern Munich over two legs. In fact, I won’t be surprise if Man United lose both home and away.
Prediction: Bayern Munich to win
Barcelona v/s Atletico
One thing is sure; there will a Spanish team when the draws for semi-finals take place on 11th April. The downside of this is that European games between the same nation teams are often dull and cagey as the teams know each other very well. It may well turn out the same given the recent meetings between these 2 teams – they have already met thrice this season and all three meetings have been draws, with 2 being goalless draws. But there are two things that may go in Barca’s favour – one, they have been a regular at this stage of the competition and know how to progress and second, in Leo Messi they have a magician that can single-handedly turn any game on its head.
Prediction: Barcelona to win
Real Madrid v/s Borussia Dortmund
These two teams faced each other in last year’s CL at the semi-final stage and at that time BVB came out as deserved winners. In fact they just blew away Real Madrid in 1st leg when Lewandowski put 4 goals past them. Real Madrid is almost the same team with Bale in place of Ozil. But same can’t be said of BVB. Although they have just lost one key player so far (Gotze) from the side that beat Real Madrid, but injuries have played havoc with them and they have struggled to put together a good run. To make matters worse, their hero of this tie from last year (Lewandowski) is suspended for the first leg. Given the form that Real Madrid is in this year and the fact that the first leg will be played in SatiagoBernabau, I won’t be surprised if the tie is all but over by the time Lewandowski returns for the 2nd leg.
Prediction: Real Madrid to win
PSG v/s Chelsea
Arguably the trickiest tie of the quarter finals and not without some interesting sub plots. This is the first time that these two teams are meeting in the knock – out stages of this competition. Both clubs are bankrolled by billionaires – one by Russian money and the other by Qatari money and both the clubs have a player who can claim to be the best player in the world ( of course after Ronaldo and Messi). Although PSG are still novices at this stage of the competition, Chelsea have been regulars in the knock out stages and have come agonizingly close to lifting the trophy in 2008 before finally doing so in 2012. In Mourinho, Chelsea have a manager who has great experience in negotiating this stage of competition whereas for Blanc this will be his first major test. With due respect to French League, this is also a first time when PSG is playing a quality opponent this year. They will depend a lot on the experience of Ibrahimovic. I would however stick my neck out and go with PSG to upset Chelsea in a tight contest.
Prediction: PSG to win