UEFA Champions League quarter-final draw in Nyon has kept apart the three clear favourites Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona. However, there are certainly no foregone conclusions as all three still have challenges to overcome in a heavyweight-laden quarter-final line-up.
Good Draws For the Favourites
Pep Guardiola’s slick Bayern Munich side are favourites to retain their Champions League crown at odds of 7/4, and they have been given a generous draw against a stuttering Manchester United. United are now ranked 28/1 outsiders after being drawn against the favourites, and could only manage a narrow comeback win last round versus Olympiakos.
Barring some sort of tactical master-stroke from under-pressure United coach David Moyes, the defending champions are likely to have a comfortable passage through to the semi-finals.
Real Madrid, at odds of 10/3, are second favourites to take the crown on 24th May in Lisbon. They have the opportunity to gain some revenge against Borussia Dortmund in a repeat of last year’s semi-final.
Despite losing the tie last year, this time they are clear favourites against a side who are 33/1 to win the title, and will be pleased to have been kept apart from Bayern and Barcelona. Look to Real Madrid’s outstanding striker Cristiano Ronaldo to provide the goals, he is a huge favourite to finish this season’s competition as top scorer with odds of 1/6.
All-Spanish Quarter-Final Showdown
The other of the three clear favourites to win the Champions League, Barcelona, have been drawn against Spanish domestic rivals Atletico Madrid. Barcelona are 7/2 to win the Champions League, and have also been given a somewhat kind quarter-final draw against an Atletico side who have odds of 20/1.
However, this could be a tight match-up as the only other clash between these sides this season ended 0-0. Atletico coach Diego Simeone will look to employ a solid, defensive strategy in an attempt to contain Barcelona’s potent attacking threat. Barcelona’s swashbuckling striker Lionel Messi could prove to be the difference, recent evidence shows that he is returning to top form.
Could his goals fire Barcelona to Champions League glory?
The Toughest Draw to Predict
Perhaps the most interesting of the quarter-final draws is Paris Saint-Germain versus Chelsea. Both sides are 11/1 to take the crown in May, and as the odds illustrate this is going to be an unpredictable Champions League tie which promises to excite.
This is the first test for Laurent Blanc’s PSG side against big-time European opposition, and on paper they have the talent to overcome this challenge, with the dangerous Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading the line. Ibrahimovic has been in great form this season, and is second favourite to finish as top scorer, at odds of 9/2.
Chelsea will have something to say about that though, and like any side coached by Jose Mourinho, they can be expected to employ a shrewd tactical plan to counter the danger posed by Ibrahimovic and his team-mates. They also have their own danger man in Eden Hazard, and overall this one looks too close to call.
If the favourites Bayern, Real Madrid and Barcelona all progress as expected from their quarter-final draws, we can expect two mouth-watering ties in the semi-finals between the most advanced club teams in world football. The victors of the other tie, PSG versus Chelsea, will complete the semi-final draw and will provide tough opposition.
By Matty Stimposn