Defending champions Real Madrid have been handed a tough quarterfinal draw against Bayern Munich.
At least one of the Champions League’s big favourites will be going out in the quarterfinals, with Bayern Munich having been drawn against Real Madrid in a mouthwatering tie. It will see incumbent Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti return to his old stomping ground, looking to show the Merengues what they’re missing.
It took a while for Bayern to get up to speed after Ancelotti replaced Pep Guardiola in the summer, but there can be no doubt they’re now firing on all cylinders. They’ve not lost a game since being beaten by Rostov in the Champions League group stages in November, and thrashed Arsenal by a combined aggregate scoreline of 10-2 in the first knockout round. It’s not without good reason that they’re among the very favourites to win this tournament.
Key player: Robert Lewandowski
Only Lionel Messi and Edinson Cavani have hit the net more often in the Champions League this season than Robert Lewandowski, with the Polish international continuing to deliver consistently world class performances at the top of Bayern’s attack. He’s going to be Madrid’s chief antagonist in this tie, and will be hoping to further extend his run of goalscoring form.
There are only two teams that have won the Champions League more often than Bayern, and Real Madrid are one of them. The Spanish side are four clear of AC Milan, having racked up a record 11 titles — including last year’s, which came courtesy of victory over cross-town rivals Atlético. The La Liga leaders may have slightly stuttered over the festive period, but their 6-2 aggregate win over Napoli in the Champions League first knockout round was a sign that they’re still a lethal force. Bayern certainly won’t be looking forward to facing them.
Key player: Sergio Ramos
Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos may go down in history as the greatest defender of his generation. It is rare that a centre-back has the ability to single-handedly bend the game to his will, though Ramos has a goalscoring knack to match his dominant defensive displays. Don’t be surprised if he manages to both keep Lewandowski quiet, and decide the tie with a towering header. Perhaps even more so than Cristiano Ronaldo, Ramos is Madrid’s talisman.
It’s never wise to bet against Real Madrid in European competition, but recent form suggests their Bavarian opponents just about have the edge. It should be very tight, but we reckon Bayern Munich will squeeze through.