With all SPFL involvement over for another season the Champions League has reached the quarter final stage where those clubs still left in the competition will start to really believe that they have a chance to lift the famous trophy in Berlin’s magnificent Olympiastadion on the 6th of June.
There’s a couple of surprise teams still left alongside the usual familiar names but all concerned will know that they are only five games from glory.
The quarter final draw was definitely better for some of the bigger sides than others, but who is likely to be celebrating in Germany in a few months’ time?
Monaco and Porto have done well to get to this stage but both sides’ qualification has been well deserved. Porto are still unbeaten in the competition and although they were handed one of the easier draws in the last round, Basle are no pushover – as Liverpool will attest to. Monaco finished top of a relatively simple group and then stunned Arsenal at The Emirates. But the quarter finals are surely where their adventures are to end. Porto beat Bayern Munich in the 1987 European Cup final but Pep Guardiola’s men will be too strong for them over two legs. And Juventus were tactically magnificent against Dortmund in the last round and should have enough to get past Monaco to the semis.
In With a Chance
After winning La Liga and reaching the final of the Champions League last year, it could be seen as unfair to Atletico Madrid to suggest that they aren’t one of the favourites this term. But although they are yet to lose to their cross city rivals in six matches already this season, Real will still be the bookies’ favourites to reach the semi finals. Even with the holders in supposed crisis, the power of Ronaldo, Bale et al will be too much for Atletico.
PSG are another side who find the quarter final draw being unkind to them. They’ve already beaten Barcelona in the group stage even without the talismanic Ibrahimovic (a feat they will have to repeat in the first leg of the quarters due to suspension) but the Catalan club have hit a rich vein of form recently and should be victorious against the French champions.
So, if all goes to plan the semi finalists will be Real Madrid, Juventus, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. And all four of these traditional powerhouses will believe that they have enough to win the competition. It will really come down to who performs on the day as to who goes through from these clubs. Given the relatively weak performance from Serie A clubs in Europe over the last few seasons (although they are on their way back if this year’s Europa League campaign is anything to go by), Juventus are probably the less fancied of these four but the Italian champions will be afraid of no-one and could cause an upset. Both the Spanish giants will be confident of making the final but if they are paired in the semis that could mean either side peaking too soon to get one over their hated rivals.
And that leaves Bayern Munich. Always a fixture of the latter stages of the Champions League, the addition of Pep Guardiola as head coach in 2013 only strengthened the German side and they have looked awesome this season. A single defeat against Manchester City has been their only low point on a campaign that has seen them score seven on two separate occasions. After a goalless draw in the first leg of the last 16 they crushed Shakhtar Donetsk at home and will be confident of brushing Porto aside in the quarters.
Muller and Goetze have been unplayable this season and with a stellar supporting cast – and on German soil – it would not surprise anyone if Bayern Munich are crowned the champions of Europe for the sixth time come June.