Following the Uefa Champions League quarter-final draw on Friday, Ian Hawkey anlyses the match-ups and predicts which teams will progress to the final four.
Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid
If anything will put the buzz back into Atletico Madrid’s faltering season, this will.
After the dramatic victory by penalty shootout over Bayer Leverkusen in the previous round, they now have the opportunity to avenge last May’s Uefa Champions League final defeat.
The details of that contest inform this rematch. Atletico led until very late in the 90 minutes and lost 4-1 only in extra time.
Manager Diego Simeone’s team will remember the fine margin that took the game into the extra half-hour, not the eventual scoreline. They will feel emboldened by the 4-0 thrashing they inflicted on their city rivals in their most recent Primera Liga derby last month and the fact they knocked Real out of the Copa del Rey, over two legs, in January.
That is some momentum for Atletico in neighbourhood squabbles. And Real are under huge pressure to restore what they regard as the natural hierarchy.
Real to go through, despite Atletico’s strong recent record against them
Paris Saint-Germain v Barcelona
Barcelona are under no illusions that the PSG whom they meet next month are much improved as a European force from the Parisians they played and beat at the same stage two seasons ago.
Then a veteran David Beckham was the French club’s temporarily imported star and the experience hastened him to retirement. When the clubs met in this season’s group stage, they shared the points, PSG winning the first match, Barca the second in a pool Barcelona ended up topping.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marco Verratti are both suspended for the first leg, as is Barca’s Dani Alves. They are each significant losses, but PSG showed in the last round, while knocking out Chelsea, that their dependence on Ibrahimovic is anything but absolute.
Barca will certainly be wary of the set-piece excellence that produced PSG’s decisive away goals against Chelsea, both headers from corners, a traditional defensive frailty for the Catalan team.
Barcelona to go through, after a tight first leg
Porto v Bayern Munich
Get set for some trips down memory lane. In 1987, Porto and Bayern met in the final of what was then the European Cup. A close affair, featuring a memorable goal – a backheel from the gifted Algerian, Rabah Madjer – to help Porto win 2-1.
There will be moments of nostalgia for the two coaches, Bayern’s Pep Guardiola and Porto’s Julen Lopetegui, who only last Tuesday sat together to watch the Atletico Madrid-Bayer Leverkusen last-16 tie. Guardiola and Lopetegui were teammates as players at Barcelona in the 1990s.
There is a special memory for Manuel Neuer, the Bayern goalkeeper. Porto won the first Champions League final he was involved in – as a ballboy at the 2004 event in Gelsenkirchen.
The German champions are clear favourites, winners of the competition in 2013 and armed with experience, up against a Porto who have the youngest squad left in the competition.
Both qualified emphatically for this stage, Bayern putting seven second-leg goals past Shakhtar Donetsk, Porto scoring four times at home against Basel.
Bayern to progress, by a comfortable margin
Juventus v Monaco
Monaco have many of the attributes of what is traditionally admired in Serie A: a defence that can go for hours looking impermeable, a rapier sharpness on the counter-attack, and the capacity to eke out extra seasons from veteran players.
The Monaco of Dimitar Berbatov, 34, and Ricardo Carvalho, 36, have a know-how of the latter stages of Champions League campaigns in their squad. They also have a rearguard that has let in just four goals in eight matches in Europe so far, and some clinical moves on the break.
Whether the side who ambushed Arsenal so effectively in London in the previous round can surprise the Serie A champions who overwhelmed Borussia Dortmund is doubtful.
Juventus, chasing a first Champions League semi-final since 2003, have the firepower of a soaring Carlos Tevez, although they nurse some concerns over the availability of injured midfielder Paul Pogba.
Juventus to go through, though Monaco will keep them at bay for long phases of the tie
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