The lineup for the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals is complete and the draws will be made today.
The big eight is composed of two Italians teams; Juventus and Roma; three Spanish teams; Barcelona, Sevilla, and Real Madrid; Germany have Bayern Munich while England have Liverpool and Manchester City.
By UEFA club ranking, all the clubs left have a fair chance of winning. But most of the teams would want to pick Sevilla [ranked 12th] on Friday. The draws can see clubs from the same country drawn together [the possibility of another El Clasico] while the side drawn first will play the first leg at home.
In qualifying for the last eight, these five truths were established:
English teams signified a false dawn
It was supposed to be plain sailing for United and Tottenham after battling to commendable away draws in Spain and Italy. But both got sucker punched in the return legs 2-1, with the two goals conceded in five-minute second half spells.
Also in the round of 16 encounters down the seasons since the new Champions League was formed, Spanish teams have had the better of their English opponents nine times out of 10. It explains why the English Premier League looks like the finishing school for the Spanish heavyweights of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Surprisingly, Sevilla knocked Manchester United out while Barcelona were always going to be too skillful and experienced for Antonio Conte’s Chelsea.
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Leagues outside top 4 have to buckle up
Only four leagues are represented in the last eight – Spain , England , Italy , and Germany with the ever-present Bayern Munich. The last of the top five, France, is not even represented while Bayern’s 8-1 thrashing handed out to Turkey’s Besiktas showed in clear terms there is a chasm developing and all other European leagues have to buckle up and prove their credentials in the coming season.
Mistakes separate the boys from the men
The higher you go in football, the swifter the punishment for making mistakes is. PSG, Manchester United, Tottenham, and Chelsea found that out to their detriment hence ouster. The best teams live to punish mistakes and the best players are the ones who sniff out where the mistakes will happen and pounce. It might not be an element that can be coached because it usually comes with experience at the very top level.
A likely familiar winner
Of the last eight teams, five have won the big-eared trophy while three are yet to get their hands on the trophy. Manchester, Sevilla, and AS Roma are all bidding to win for the very first time; Real Madrid are gunning for a third consecutive title while Barcelona and Lionel Messi want to win it again after their last triumph in 2015. In the last five seasons, Spanish teams have dominated with Bayern winning in 2013. In the last 10 seasons, Real Madrid and Barcelona have won it thrice each. If they are not paired together in the quarterfinals – we could see an all-Spanish final.
Bayern continue to emasculate the Bundesliga
The probability Bayern will be crowned UEFA Champions League winners this season is a very slim one considering the fact they are the only Bundesliga side in the last eight, or even in the last 16. As it is presently, they are again going great guns in the league and will likely have the championship sewn up in the next two weeks whilst the other clubs scramble for the second position. Just like in France where PSG have become perennial champions, poaching away the best local players but not making the cut in Europe.
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