The UEFA held the draw for the quarterfinal round of the Champions League set to start a week from Tuesday. The teams are picked out of a bowl at random and whatever teams come out in succession plays each other. This year had some crying foul because the bowl offered no superstar match ups like a Real Madrid versus Bayern München or a Barcelona versus Madrid. Instead the match-ups left little in terms of super powers butting heads.
The four match-ups are Barcelona hosting Athletico Madrid with Bayern München traveling to Manchester United on Tuesday, April 1st. The next day sees Borussia Dortmund on the road at the Bernabéu while Chelsea travels to Paris-St. Germain. The power teams of the tournament reside in Spain and Germany, namely Barca, Real and Bayern. The closest matchup in this round will be Chelsea against PSG. The only other matchup that could throw people for a loop is Barcelona-Athletico, which have all ended in draws in La Liga.
There’s absolutely no question that Bayern will destroy Manchester United and Real Madrid should make a quick meal of BVB. The only question I have is about how they decide the location of the legs. In the opening knockout round the higher-seeded teams always start on the road because it’s a distinct advantage having the second leg at home. In the case of BVB-RM, the opening leg starts in Spain and then shifts to Westphalia for the close. In the group stage Real Madrid finished with more points than BVB and won their quarterfinal leg by an aggregate of 9-2, while BVB escaped 5-4. An interesting strategic storyline for Jürgen Klopp is that he’ll be without star striker Robert Lewandowski for the game in Spain, but will have him back for the home game. In last year’s home matchup against the two teams in the Champions League semi-finals, Lewandowski scored 4 goals to lead his team to the Wembley Final. If BVB can manage a road goal while keeping the Real Madrid side down it could make for a wild scene at the Iduna with the return of the Polish striker.
Whatever the results may be, the final in Lisbon could be the an even bigger spectacle than in years past. If everything shakes out according to betting lines, the semi-finals would force a finals-like matchup in the next fixtures.