You know the Champions league is getting serious when there are more teams that have won it left in the competition than teams that haven’t won it. And right now Manchester City and Roma must be feeling pretty lonely as they are the only 2 teams that haven’t lifted the big-eared trophy in their history. However, they will not be dismayed in their quest to become the first team since Chelsea in 2012 to claim a maiden UEFA Champions League title, Roma having eliminated Jose Mourinho and his band of 6 foot plus millionaires, while Manchester City are currently one of the most feared teams on the continent.
There will be a lot of familiar feelings in the quarter finals as most of the teams are already well aware of each others strengths and weaknesses.
JUVENTUS VS REAL MADRID
“Ronaldo is also lethal, everything he does is at 100 percent and in front of the goal he is an assassin.” It would be rude not to praise someone who has scored 7 times in 5 appearances against you. And Juve veteran goalkeeper, Buffon is definitely not one to be rude. After the Portuguese superstar killed his Champions League dreams last season, his choice of words are an apt description. The two clubs have a checkered past in the European competition: Real Madrid have beaten Juventus in 2 out of 2 UCL finals but are yet to advance in any of their knock out ties against Juventus since the competition started in 1992. Predrag Mijatovic’s winner in the 97/98 final coming between Del Pierro‘s masterclass at the Delle Alpi that helped Juve knock Madrid out at the quarter final stage in 95/96 and Madrid being roundly beaten 3-1 by Juventus to exit the competition at the semi final stage even after a 2-1 first leg win in the 02/03 season. A further Round of 16 win for Juve in 2004/2005 with the dramatic winning goal in extra time by Marcelo Zalayeta was followed by another Semi final victory for the old Lady from Turin where Madrid academy grauduate Alvaro Morata scored the winning goal for the Bianconeri before Madrid beat Juve 4-1 in the finals in 2016/2017.
Real rested some key players in their league victory over Las Palmas, including Ronaldo and Isco who were key to Real beating Juve in the final. Juve will be riding on a high after their victory over bitter rivals AC Milan where mercurial forward, Paulo Dybala scored once and assisted once. He had a quiet second half last year and will be looking to make it up to the Juventus fauthful with a special performance.
SEVILLA VS BAYERN MUNICH
Sevilla and Bayern Munich are the only teams meeting for the first time in the Champions league. This is mostly because Sevilla don’t always do so well in the Champions league, and don’t have a great heritage in the competition despite what some people from Manchester will have you believe. Bayern’s pedigree on the other hand is indubitable and it shows on their shirt sleeves. Bayern have5 Champions league titles from 10 finals while Sevilla are playing their first quarter final in 60 years. Two teams at the opposite ends of the Champions League‘s elite list will face off first in Seville and then in Munich and even though Bayern are flying high after humbling Borrussia Dortmund over the weekend they will be well aware of Sevilla’s giant killing propensity after they went to one of football’s most hallowed grounds and sent their the hosts packing from European football this season. With their hero from that night well rested after being left on the bench during their 2-2 draw with Barcelona, the Sevilla fans can dare to dream of another memorable night when they host the Bavarians.
LIVERPOOL VS MANCHESTER CITY
With these two, it’s a thicker plot and goes deeper than just the clubs to their managers -two very similar footballing ideals and an unspoken but vibrant rivalry. From their time in Germany when Pep Guardiola managed Bayern Munich and Jurgen Klopp managed Borriusia Dortmund, to their subsequent spells in England with Manchester City and Liverpool, no manager has gotten the better ofPep more times than Klopp, including this season’s end to City‘s unbeaten league run in a match that deserved fireworks at the end to match the enthusiasm both sets of players had exhibited during the 90 minutes.The first leg was not too different in terms of entertainment value but was very different in result, as City thumped Liverpool 5-0 at the Etihad after a red card to Sadie Mane following a horror challenge on City’s goalkeeper Ederson. Both managers have used the pre-match press conference to state their respect- but not fear- of each other and I am sure I speak for most neutrals when I say this is the match that most people are anticipating the most. Man City’s 19 goals so far, while remarkable, are dwarfed by Liverpool’s 28. It’s tiki-taka vs gegen pressing, the first all English knock out tie since 2010/1011 season. It’s not the type of match you should be told about.
BARCELONA VS ROMA
Barcelona have a demi-god in their ranks and Roma found out the hard way the last time these two met. After Alessandro Florenzi’s wonder goal in the first leg earned Roma a draw, Messi scored 2 goals and assisted one as Barcelona ran riot at the Camp Nou and spanked Roma 6-1 in the presence of their Eternal Legend, who couldn’t save them. 2 seasons on and they meet again with some squad changes, but the potential protagonist remains the same. Messi, fresh from his rescue mission against Sevilla will be looking to pick up where he left offbut he will be facing stiff opposition from one of Europe’s most in form goalkeepers in Alisson. The Brazilian stopper has been in immaculate form for the Romans, attracting interest from Liverpool and Real Madrid. A strong performance against one of the all-time greats of the game on a stage as big as this will certainly do his market valuation a lot of good. Roma’s Edin Dzeko will be one to watch for Barcelona’s difference as the powerful forward has netted 4 times (4 more than Luis Suarez) In 8 games in the Champions league.
On this latest bus stop on the Road to Kiev 2017/2018, we wait to find out who stays on and who is getting dropped off.