Three keys to the Champions League quarter-finals
The Champions League this season is left with no English sides in the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since the late 90’s but that’s not necessarily that important. Barcelona were drawn with French powerhouses, PSG, while the other La Liga sides, Malaga and Real Madrid, were drawn with Dortmund and Galatasaray respectively. The stand-out tie of this stage in the competition is almost certainly Juventus vsBayern Munich. After last season’s failings at home to Chelsea in the Champions League Final in their own stadium, Bayern will be desperate to make amends. Juventus, impressive in their recent renaissance, are regarded as a premier European side once again.
Here are three keys to the Champions League quarter-finals:
Ibra vs Messi
After Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ban was reduced, the big Swede is now able to face his former side, Barcelona, in both quarter-final legs. Lionel Messi has been in incredible form, and it will be a stern test for the Ligue 1 leaders to keep him off the scoresheet. PSG are undefeated in their last 6 matches in the Champions League, while Barcelona have lost two of their last five Champions League matches. AC Milan’s performance versusMessi & co at the San Siro showed the world how Barcelona can be beaten.
Two talismen ready to do battle.
Defensive duties key for Juventus
Top of Serie A, and impressive in the Champions League,Juventus have been continuing their wonderful renaissance in 2013. Juventus have won their last 5 matches in the Champions League, and haven’t conceded in those matches. Bayern Munich, however, pose a different threat entirely. The German side brushed aside Arsenal at the Emirates before nearly giftingArsene Wenger’s side passage to the last-eight of the Champions League following a dire performance at the Allianz Arena. If Bayern can return to the level that they have shown in the Bundesliga this season, Juventus’ clean sheet run will almost certainly end.
Only Barcelona have averaged higher possession than Bayern in the Champions League this season, Juve will need to bide their time.
Avoid complacency vs unfancied sides
Tough draws for Malaga and Galatasaray, who were drawn with Dortmund and Real Madrid respectively, mean that bookies have been quick to back the ‘bigger’ sides. Real Madrid and Dortmund have been excellent in the Champions League this season, with much of their season’s focus now centered on Europe following relatively poor domestic form. Dortmund face a Malaga side spurred on by the talented Isco, and Real Madrid will face a Galatasaray side bolstered by the recent arrivalsSneijder & Drogba. By no means an easy test for either Real Madrid or Dortmund, but Mourinho and Klopp will have one eye on the semi-final.
Can Mourinho continue his European domination? Is Klopp’sDortmund ready for the big stage?