After the announcement of the quarterfinal draw, it is safe to say that all four UEFA Champions League games will be special.
The UCL quarterfinal matchups announced are PSG vs.Chelsea, Real Madrid facing last year’s runner-up, Borussia Dortmund, in a rematch of last years semifinal, defending European champion, Bayern Munich looking to keep rolling against Manchester United and La Liga leader, Atletico Madrid facing Lionel Messi and F.C. Barcelona.
All of these matchups are bound to be both mouthwatering and special, with no team being spared an easy draw.
Here are my rankings of the quarterfinalists.
- 8. Manchester United : To this writer, Manchester United’s season ended as soon as they announced Dutch striker Robin van Persie’s knee injury. United showed great courage beating Greek side, Olympiakos to advance to the quarterfinals, but unfortunately for them, their road to Lisbon ends in Germany against the defending European champions from Bavaria. United doesn’t stand much of a realistic chance against Bayern. Without van Persie up top, the Red Devil’s slim hopes of advancing to the semifinals are slim to none at best.
- 7. Borussia Dortmund : Injuries have hurt Dortmund like no other team in the world, as five out of their eleven starters will likely miss the first leg with Real Madrid. Even though Polish striker Robert Lewandowski can dominate games single-handedly, missing the likes of Jakub Blaszczykowski and Ilkay Gundogan will hurt BVB’s chances. Neven Subotic and Marcel Schmelzer will be missed on defense and playing against Los Blancos is no walk in the park even with a full squad. Despite that, like last year, everybody is writing them off, they still might shock the world by reaching the semifinal for the second year in a row.
- 6. Atletico Madrid : The dark horse to win the Champions League from the beginning, Atletico are in first place domestically in La Liga and have quietly great all season. Madrid have a stern test waiting at Nou Camp in Barca, but have shown they have the class to compete with the best. With a stern backline led by Diego Godin and Brazilian import, Diego Costa, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Los Colchoneros become last year’s Borussia Dortmund.
- 5. Paris Saint-Germain : PSG dominated lowly Dutch side, Bayer Leverkusen in the Round of 16. Swedish striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played the best soccer of his life and with the Ligue 1 title secured, all the marbles are in one basket now. Last year, PSG had an early exit at the hands of Barcelona on away goals, this year is different against EPL leader, Chelsea. Last years, the Blues did not have to deal with Ibrahimovic. This year, PSG has their Swedish striker with them, who will be sure to make a difference this year.
- 4. Chelsea : Although it seems Chelsea may sneaked by Turkish club, Galatasaray, this a team that cannot win the title. There are not much better players than Eden Hazard at the moment, and with a world-class manager in Jose Mourinho, Chelsea is never out of a game. Currently, four points clear of Liverpool, the Blues are dominating the EPL, but are fighting on two fronts. When Zlatan Ibrahimovic and French Ligue 1 side, PSG, come across the English Channel to Stamford Bridge, John Terry and Gary Cahill must bring their proverbial A-games for there to be a chance.
- 3. F.C. Barcelona : Lionel Messi is finally back in form and appears to be scoring for fun. When Manchester City came to Camp Nou firing on all cylinders, Barcelona responded with a well-rounded win. Atletico Madrid is no easy task, but Barcelona have veterans who have been there before. If Barcelona can tighten it up on defense they should move on.
- 2. Real Madrid : Los Blancos made sure everyone realized that their prolific attacking trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale is the strongest in the world against overmatched Bundesliga side, Schalke 04. Winning handsomely, 9-2 on aggregate, Madrid play an attractive brand of attacking football. Even though they are tied for firs in La Liga, they are still the best team in Spain. The injury of Jese might cause problems, but Dortmund’s injury table is a bit worse. Back-to-back semifinal appearances seem to be very possible for Los Blancos.
- 1. Bayern Munich : With their 23rd Bundesliga title under their belt–in record-setting fashion–Bayern might win wrap up their second straight back treble. The defending UEFA champions have another relatively easy draw in Manchester United, and should move on to the semi-finals. Bayern has yet to lose a game in 2014, and based on their dominant form, should continue all the way to Lisbon.