The Champions League draw for the quarter-finals was done this week and after the great games in the Round of 16 this draw doesn't disappoint. If anything there will definitely be lots of GOALS!
Oddly enough UEFA no longer does the semi-final draw the same night as the quarter-final draw so that will take place after these ties are played out. The quarter-final fixtures will take place April 11/12 and April 18/19.
Atlético vs Leceister City
This will be the battle of who wants the ball the least. Both of these teams love to play on the counter. It will be interesting to see how both sides line up. I don't expect Atlético to alter their typical game plan. While Leceister City's last opponent, Sevilla, are currently higher in the table in La Liga than Atlético I expect them to be a much harder test for the reigning English champions. Antoine Griezmann will be a handful for Robert Huth to match up with and overall they are a faster team than Sevilla. Leceister City, however, seems to perform best when their back is against the wall. Vardy will be running non-stop and putting lots of pressure on a defense that won't see that level of physicality all year long. This one will come down to which defense plays the best.
Dortmund vs Monaco
This might be the highest scoring quarter-final in the history of the UEFA Champions League. Both of these teams have been pouring in goals. Dortmund have scored 29 goals in 12 home matches in the Bundesliga so far this season. Monaco has scored an astonishing 52 goals in 15 home games this season. What separates these two teams? Not a whole lot on the field. Dortmund have American Christian Pulisic coming into peak form at the important part of the season. While Monaco has seen a reincarnated Falcao rolling back the years and finding the back of the net more often than not this season. This one may come down to the crowds. Dortmund routinely has the highest average attendance of any soccer team in the world. Roughly 80,000 people take in to the Signul Iduna Park every match. Compare that to Monaco whose average attendance for the year is below 10,000 and that could be the difference maker.
Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid
This is the headline draw for sure. Neither team has raised their game from past seasons but they are both sitting comfortably on top of their respective leagues. Carlo Ancelotti has won the Champions League with multiple clubs while Zinedine Zidane won it in his first season as coach of Real Madrid. This will come down to which team has the greater number of individual moments of brilliance. Will Cristiano Ronaldo step up in the big game or will Arjen Robben (how is he still playing at this level???) produce for the German side? Will Robert Lewandowski keep up his goal scoring form or will Karim Benzema produce the important goal for his side. Everywhere on the pitch a lot of the individual duals cancel each other out until you look at the keepers. This is the area that Bayern has a big advantage over Madrid. Manuel Neuer is a much better keeper than Keylor Navas. Navas has been under growing pressure at Madrid do to some high profile blunders in recent weeks. Typically Madrid's offense can bail the team out but will not be as easy against Bayern.
Juventus vs Barcelona
This is being billed as best offense vs the best defense. Not a bad pairing for a quarter-final match. Barcelona will be riding high from their heroics in the last round against Paris St. Germain. That went down as the greatest comeback in Champions League history for many fans of the game. Juventus have conceded less than a goal a game all season. That backline will need to be at its best if it is be successful against what many consider the best front line in world soccer. Barcelona will be relying on Messi, Suarez, and Neymar to guide them through this tie. Neymar in particular will be heavily marked by Juventus. While Messi isn't having his most memorable season Neymar has stepped up and tried to make the difference. That was very evident in the return fixture against PSG. Over two legs this one is too tough to call as both teams have qualities the other does not.