The Champions league Quarter finals draw were held last week and the fixtures seems to be pretty straightforward as to who will progress through to the next round, except for the clash between Bayern and Juventus. Another clash to look forward to is the clash between this season’s two dark horses, Malaga and Dortmund.
Here are the thoughts and predictions:
Malaga v Borussia Dortmund
In what is their debut season in the Champions League, Malaga have given a great account of themselves. A fantastic run in the group stages and the ability to overturn a first leg deficit to Porto in the Last 16 (something they had never done in a UEFA competition before) has earned them their spot in the Quarters and the respect of the football world. Their dogged determination and the form of a number of their players – not least Javier Saviola and their stand out star of their season, Isco – has been a huge factor in their status as quarter-finalists.
Meanwhile Dortmund have reached this stage despite being drawn in the Group of death alongside Madrid, Manchester City & Ajax. The back to back Bundesliga winners are not as strong this season in their domestic league and their lack of experience may unfold in the later stages of the European competition. But to cruise through such a difficult group and the fact they are yet to lose a game shows they cannot be underestimated – especially with players like Reus and Goetze in their squad.
The match could indeed turn out to be exciting for the neutrals as two potentially new teams at this stage of the competition are set to battle it out for a place in the Champions league semi-final. And from what it looks like, though Malaga have been in excellent form in the Champions League this season, Dortmund will definitely have the upper hand as they have reached the Quarters from a more demanding position.
Whoever wins, it will be a great game with players like Isco, Reus, Gotze etc. on show.
Real Madrid v Galatasaray
Mourinho’s men’s chances of winning the sacred and long awaited ‘La Decima’ are still alive and well after earning themselves a spot in the last 8 for the third consecutive year under their Portuguese coach. If they can maintain the form they have shown in some of their big games of late, there is no reason they couldn’t go on and do it. Two seasons back it was Barcelona that beat them in the semis. A season later, Bayern sent them out (on penalties). If they can go one better this year by booking their place at Wembley, there are not many that would bet against a Mourinho side in the final.
Given the enormous home support that Galatasaray have and with players like Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder who bring some important experience to an ambitious Galatasaray team they have every chance of pulling a result at their home. It is the away match that they will have to come up with a plan. The Turkish side are no strangers to this phase of the tournament and it could be a real boost if they managed to pull off the unthinkable. A team which is undergoing a transition period, with a new look club; new players, new stadium and new sponsors, Galatasaray are looking to return to the days of European notoriety.
They also have one of the most in-form strikers in Europe in the form of Yilmaz and a guy who’s been there and done that, Drogba. Couple that with bundles of midfield creativity and experience in Sneijder, Inan, Altintop etc. and we could have a good game on our hands.
However, the bookies given the advantage to the obvious team, Real Madrid to go through.
Paris Saint-Germain v Barcelona
PSG have reached the Quarters for the first time since 95, making Ancelotti, the only manager other then Mourinho to take four different sides to this stage of the tournament. Zlatan and co certainly have the quality in their ranks this season to make a difference, but it may be a daunting task to bring down the Catalns as they have once again made a strong statement with a 4-0 win over Milan.
The likes of Thiago Silva, Lucas Moura, Marco Veratti and top class shot-stopper Salvatore Sirigu make the French team a very exciting prospect. However the French side are makers of their own trouble as they have been prone to dropping points in games that should have been easy wins for them and to play the first leg without Zlatan Ibrahimovic puts the ods in favour of Barcelona.
The only possible hope for Ancelotti’s men is to go through the home tie with a clean sheet and try their best at Camp Nou with Zlatan returning to the starting line-up.
Following heir Last 16 second leg comeback against AC Milan in what was a magical night for the Catalans at the Camp Nou, Messi and co are once again favourites to win the competition with the betting houses.
Bayern Munich v Juventus
Easily the tie of the round, the two most consistent teams in Europe are rightly grouped against each other and the winner stand the chance to go all the way and win it. This will also be a fascinating tie on a tactical level, given the clash of cultures. Both sides play a short passing game, excellent possession football and create a lot of goalscoring chances both at home and on the road, so it will surely be end to end stuff.
Looking at the stats, it’s evident that both sides like to attack from set pieces, but both sides are also strong when defending set pieces. The one possible edge that Bayern Munich will have is in counter-attacking situations. The likes of Ribery, Muller, Kross and Robben can stretch any defensive line-up. whereas Juventus rely on their passing ability rather than pace if the Germans manage to block Pirlo from doing any damage, they have a strong chance of going through.