Friday, March 20, 2015

Examining the Champions League Quarterfinal Draw

The draw for the quarterfinals of the Champions League was made this morning, and the theme seems to be rematches. We are treated with a rematch of last season's final, the 1987 final, and one of the more exciting ties from this year's group stage.

The first legs of each of these matches will take place on April 13 and 14. The second legs follow a week later on April 20 and 21.

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Barcelona
These two met in the group stage this season and split the honors. The home sides won each match and PSG even won their's without Zlatan Ibrahimovic. This is big because Zlatan will miss the first leg of this ordeal due to his red card suspension from the second leg against Chelsea. Barcelona, meanwhile, are kicking on all cylinders. They are the slight favorites, but this has to be the best of the quarterfinal macthups.

Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid
The Madrid derby was last season's final. Real won that one, but have failed to defeat their cross town rivals in six matches since. In their last meeting in February, Atletico came out on top with a 4-0 victory. Add that to the fact that Real are beyond sputtering at this point (they could be considered lucky to have escaped against Schalke 04 in the round of 16) and this could be a very tough fixture for Ronaldo and company.

Porto vs. Bayern Munich
At first glance, this rematch of the 1987 final seems rather one sided. Bayern Munich are the most talented team in the world and they are certainly playing like it. They cruised through their group stage against Shakhtar Donetsk with a combined 8-0 victory and they are miles ahead at the top of the Bundesliga. But Porto can be a really tricky side. They quietly disposed of defending Swiss champions FC Basel in their round of 16 match and likely won't allow the Germans to run all over them. Bayern should still win, but Porto certainly won't make it easy.

Juventus vs. Monaco
This will be the least headlined match of the round, but it still should be a doosy. Juventus dispatched the collapsing Borrussia Dortmund with ease and Monaco shocked many when they took care of Arsenal in the round of 16. For two teams that don't tend to be the center of attention, this should be a good one to watch.

For the record, I am predicting Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, and probably Juventus (I'm least confident on this one) to head through to the semis. All four matches should be close, with the possible exception of Bayern against Porto. The rest wouldn't surprise me if away goals, or even extra time plus penalties, will be needed to determine a winner.

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