The announcement of the UEFA Champions League draws of the Quarter-finals, which took place on Friday, 21st March, has brought to light a whole lot of discussion among footballing circles throughout the world. Arguably, the strongest remaining 8 teams in quite a few years, this season seems to be all but over with the Champions League matches getting more and more compelling as the knockout stages progress forward. And with the clashes of the Quarter-final fixtures finally revealed, the stage for another historic final seems to be no longer a distant dream.
The first quarter final clash involves Barcelona against their La Liga compatriots, Athletico Madrid. While Athletico Madrid may not be the favourites for this clash, their fantastic run of form in their domestic as well as European matches demonstrate that they will definitely not go down without a fight. Moreover, the 2nd leg of the competition is also at Vicente Calderon, thereby pushing the luck a little bit in Athletico’s favour. However, in order to beat this vicious Barcelona side, Athletico Madrid will definitely need to muster all the luck and support they can gather.
Another interesting fixture is the tie between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Chelsea, which not only offers a clash between contrasting styles of play, but also pits PSG’s lethal strike partnership directly against Chelsea’s rock solid defence. The English side look to be the more likely winners of the battle, but with Zlatan Ibrahimovic on PSG’s side, one can never be too sure!
Then there is Manchester United, who would consider themselves rather unfortunate as to be pitted against the favourites of the tournament, Bayern Munich. The German giants, whose hot run of form does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon, look to be spearheading their way into another Champions League final for a fourth consecutive year. However, despite Man United’s poor domestic run, their performances in Europe have been inspiring to say the least. While a German victory seems to be the more probable score-line, a repetition of the 1999 Champions League final will continue to haunt the Germans in the back of their mind.
Last but not least, Real Madrid against Borussia Dortmund also promises to be a thrilling re-run oflast year’s semi-final encounter between the two sides. Both sides will have a lot to prove as they go head to head again, which will definitely be a joy to watch from a neutral perspective. While Borussia did manage to beat Jose Mourinho’s Los Blancos last year, Real Madrid’s front line (Bale, Benzema and C. Ronaldo) have never quite looked as threatening as they have now become.
The matches for the 1st leg are scheduled for the 1st/2nd of April, while the 2nd leg fixtures will take place on 8th and 9th April respectively. The long wait for Champions League to narrow down to top teams has eventually started to bear fruit and the question on who will be crowned as the most dominant side in Europe is finally starting to unravel.
Image Courtesy – thesportsquotient.com
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