After a fairly uneventful Champions League Round of 16 (save the wildness in Bayern Munich vs. Juventus, of course), we now know who will be competing against one another in the quarter-finals. Things are about to get a lot more interesting.
Real Madrid and Bayern made out the best, drawing by far the two weakest teams left in the competition in Wolfsburg and Benfica, respectively. Bayern at least deserve a little break after facing one of Europe’s best last round. It’s funny that in a season of such turmoil, under a brand new coach still learning on the job, Real Madrid will still likely be able to walk into the UCL semifinals, and quite possibly beyond.
The two mouth-watering ties are the PSG-Manchester City and Barcelona-Atlético Madrid. In the former, we have the two most prominent members of the oil money nouveau riche, who have thrown hundreds of millions of Euros around with the express purpose of winning this very title. In this pretty evenly matched tie, both clubs will have their best opportunity yet to reach the semifinal. From there, anything can happen.
The Barça-Atléti fixture is maybe a little unfortunate, since it would’ve been cool if the three Spanish teams could’ve avoided each other and potentially all made it to the semifinal, but alas. And while these are two of the best four or five teams in Europe, it still feels like anyone coming up against this Barcelona team and its historically deadly forward line will need as much luck as anything else to keep them from scoring five or so between the two legs. Atléti manager Diego Simeone doesn’t have a great record against Barça, but if anyone can figure out a way to stifle them long enough to sneak a goal or two the other way and eke out a win, it’s probably him.
While we’re at it, here’s the Europa League draw:
Not quite as juicy as the Champions League matchups, though the Athletic Club-Sevilla tie and especially the Borussia Dortmund-Liverpool one, which sees Jürgen Klopp returning to the stadium where he made his name and is still beloved, are intriguing. Sizing up the rest of the competition in this tournament and knowing that Champions League qualification through the league is realistically outside of their grasp, Liverpool probably feel confident that if they make it past Dortmund, they’ll have a great shot of winning their way back into Europe’s premier competition for next season. Ditto for Sevilla, who are still in the running to win this tournament for the third year running.
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