Monday, 24 March 2014

UEFA Champions League Draw Reaction + Analysis:

The draw for the Last 8 of the CL has been concluded with some interesting ties.... 
Chelsea and United are the only two British teams left in the competition (order of pictures does not correlate to the draw)

Hello again everyone, and welcome to my latest blog post where I have reaction and analysis of the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final draw (along with the Europa League), which took place on Friday morning in Nyon, Switzerland.


Here is the official Champions League draw, with ties to be played on the 1st/2nd and 8th/9th of April:


  • Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid
  • Real Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund
  • PSG vs Chelsea
  • Manchester United vs Bayern Munich 
Glory up for grabs: Chelsea and United are still in this season's competition, but can anyone knock Bayern off their perch? 
At first look, all four-ties could easily be fiery affairs, with all teams involved having a decent chance of progressing to the semi-finals... 
An all Spanish affair, a repeat of last year's semi-final (Real vs Dortmund), a new challenge for Chelsea against Ibrahimovic and co, while David Moyes manages his first UCL quarter-final game in charge of United against arguably the best team in the world on current form right now in Bayern. 

Individual match analysis:

Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid -
An-all Spanish affair will be played in this quarter-final, with both teams having one eye on their current league positions in Liga BBVA while trying to battle over supremacy in the Champions League for a spot in the semi-finals later on in April. 

The two sides are level on points in Spain as the race for the title heats up, but both sides will be equally bullish about their chances of reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League also. 

Barcelona have been hailed as having their "weakest side in a long time" in a few years, yet they will be high on morale from their 4-3 win in the Madrid-Barca derby on Sunday night (which says something about Real if they lose to a weak side).

My prediction: Barcelona
Atletico are in-form with Courtois, Diego Costa and Koke all proving their worth, but Barcelona will probably be too strong for them.
In-form: Courtois is highly regarded as one of the world's best goalkeepers







The likes of Iniesta, Xavi, Sanchez, Neymar and the Magical Messi will be on display, and regardless of how "weak" they look on paper - looks can deceive.  


Class: Iniesta is one of the best creative midfielders in the world, and will be a catalyst for Barca's counter attacks against Atletico
Messi broke the record for most goals in Barca's history - with over 370 goals for the club

Weak? Not by any stretch: Messi and co will be lethal against Atletico

Stepping up to the mark: Magical Messi scored a hat-trick against Real Madrid last Sunday
Real Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund - 
A repeat from last year's semi-finals as Spanish giants take on a weaker-looking Dortmund side than they played this time last year. 

Both teams have new-look sides since their clash in the semis, with Real signing Tottenham forward Gareth Bale and breaking the world transfer record to buy him for £86MILLION POUNDS (astronomical, I know) while Dortmund were forced to sell their star midfielder Mario Gotze to rivals Bayern after they activated his £32million pound release clause in April last year.

To look out for:
Ronaldo and Bale vs Subotic and Hummels
Reus and Lewandowski vs Ramos and Pepe 
Diego Lopez vs Roman Weidenfeller
Xabi Alonso vs Ilkay Gundogan

Dortmund will be hoping that they can provide the same shock result that they produced last season against Real, but they will be aware that they obliterated fellow German side Schalke in the Last 16 and who knows - they could do the same again...

My prediction: Real Madrid
I certainly love to root for an underdog, but the loss of Gotze in the heart of midfield means that Dortmund are missing a creative spark. Reus and Lewandowski will be under increasing pressure to perform, but Real will be pumped to try and win the Champions League trophy for the first time since 2002. 

PSG vs Chelsea -
This match is a very intriguing one for the neutral, seeing as Mourinho has a tough test in store against Ligue 1 defending champions PSG. PSG lost at this stage last year against Barca, while Chelsea moved into the Europa League (and won it) after finishing third in their group last season.
Both teams have strong sides and a solid starting line-up on paper, so the feeling is that the two-legged games will be open and even but both teams can go into the game with relative confidence that they can expose each other's weaknesses.    

This tie is too close to call so I'm going to "go on the fence" as it were and pick out the reasons why both teams can win the game:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic - in my opinion over-rated, but he can sure win a game. He will be key for PSG up-top alongside Cavani and Lavezzi

Eden Hazard - his first taste of Champions League proper since his move to Chelsea, he will be looked upon to perform well under pressure to help get his side to the semis.
Petr Cech and Salvatore Sirigu - the goalkeepers. Both reliable, both have strengths and weakness to exploit. Who will come out on top in the battle of the keepers?
Gary Cahill and David Luiz - 
Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Alex - The latter looks a less attractive defensive proposition, a weakness in the PSG side but his attacking runs and solid defending think otherwise. Interesting. 

Who will win? Not sure. 

Manchester United vs Bayern Munich -
Probably the most anticipated clash of the quarter-finals, the defending EPL champions play against the current UCL champions in a two-legged fixture that could not come sooner for David Moyes and his new United side. Bayern have been pretty unstoppable in the UCL and Bundesliga this season, and have virtually sealed their fate as reigning German champions domestically while United are currenly struggling to challenge for a top 4 spot for the first time without influential manager Sir Alex Ferguson in over 25 years. 
Bayern will be the favourites to win the game overall having been fairly fortunate to see off Arsenal in the last round and boast having the stronger team on paper, but United will take pleasure from the fact that if they start the tie off well then they could get a good result - but if they do not, they will be consequently punished by the likes of Gotze, Mandzukic, Robben, Ribery and Muller who are hungry for goals.

United have been unpredictable throughout this season which is to be expected, but they will also take into account that there probably is no pressure put upon them to win the game as they are already being called underdogs. This could be the last time we see United in the competition for a few years unless Moyes signs the right players in the summer, so look out for this tie!

My prediction: Bayern Munich
Their team is just too strong. United will make it hard but fall short over two legs.