With only eight teams remaining in the UEFA Champions League, the team’s paths to Milan are shaping up with the first leg of the quarterfinals taking place this week.
With four great matchups this week, 32 Flags will preview what will be a splendid quarterfinal round in the Champions League.
Benfica vs. Bayern Munich
Although Bayern Munich is considered a heavy favorite going into this match, they must not overlook a strong Benfica side that has won their last eight games and have won 19 out of their last 20 matches. Even Bayern boss Pep Guardiola mentioned how difficult this match will be.
“Their stats are very good. They know exactly what to do, they know how to read the game. Mitroglou and Jonas are very strong and in the box they have lots of quality,” said the Spanish manager as he sang the Portuguese side’s praises.
And they must be wary of them as well, as Benfica comes in with very few injuries to their main side and with striker Jonas coming in red-hot, notching 30 goals in the Liga NOS. It will be interesting to see how Benfica will line up against Bayern, as Benfica will hope for an away goal to take back to Portugal for the return leg.
Atlético Madrid vs. Barcelona
Truly the most attractive matchup out of the four, the all-Spanish tie between Barcelona and Atlético pits the Spanish league leader against the team that is hot on their trail for the number one spot.
Barcelona was finally defeated at home in El Clasico and Atlético thrashed Real Betis by a score of 5-1 in league play on the weekend, so with this said … Has Barcelona been softened by a crushing loss to their hated rivals? Or has the loss ignited a spark the Barca players needed to focus on the main objective to repeat as Champions League winners?
Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué spoke about Barcelona’s state of mind, “We want to play again quickly, especially against a rival like Atlético. We want to prove that we are still the team that has won everything. We want to win it all again.”
However, Atlético is quietly making their way to the top and, the way they have been playing lately, could be a dark horse to contend for the Champions League title. What better opponent to knock off Barcelona than one of their own league rivals? And that is what Atlético is looking forward as they head to the Camp Nou to face off against the Catalonian team.
Real Madrid vs. Wolfsburg
On the topic of Madrid, Real Madrid are coming off a great win against bitter rivals Barcelona and are headed to Wolfsburg to face off against the German squad. Many say that Real Madrid hit the jackpot in receiving what could be seen as the easier teams in the draw, but the scrappy Wolfsburg are more than ready to play.
Wolfsburg midfielder Josuha Guilavogui spoke about their upcoming match, “I was part of the Atlético squad that beat Real Madrid 1-0 with a goal from Diego Costa, so why not aim to repeat that kind of performance? Of course we will need to defend well because they have such a strong attack with Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.”
But many experts have Real Madrid as heavy favorites against Wolfsburg, and the way Madrid is playing under Zizou, it is very hard to not to have them advancing into the semifinals.
Manchester City vs. Paris St. Germain
The other entertaining matchup on hand is PSG against Manchester City, as Paris St. Germain will hope to finally be able to break into the semifinals of the Champions League for the first time in over 20 years.
Experts have said that PSG have lucked out by receiving Manchester City in the draw, but manager Laurent Blanc has dismissed that sentiment. We’ll be up against a team with quality and quality in depth — their squad overall has much more quality than ours,” Blanc boldly stated.
Clearly, he is trying to keep his team ready and trying to fight off complacency, but Blanc has a point. With City coming off a big win against Bournemouth, and having Kevin De Bruyne back, PSG is right to not overlook Manchester City as a legit contender to the Champions League crown.
You never know, with soccer being the unpredictable game it is, any one of these eight teams has a great chance of going to Milan to play in the Champions League final.