The 2016/17 UEFA Champions League draws served up some mouth-watering ties, with none of the games having a clear, out and out favourite. This article examines each of the ties, and the teams competing for a space in the last four.
Juventus vs. Barcelona
A repeat of 2015 final, the Old Lady of Turin will play against Catalan giants Barcelona for a place in this season’s semi-final. Barcelona are the 2nd highest scoring team in Europe this season, with 77 goals in 27 games, while Juventus have the 2nd highest win ratio in Europe this season, with 82.1%.
Juventus have won all of their matches away from home in the Champions League this season, while Barcelona have won all of their home games, making the game at the Camp Nou one to look forward to.
The Spanish giants have the best attacking trio in world football, while Juventus have the more pragmatic defence. This game is one that will be won/lost in the midfield.
Barcelona have been very inconsistent this season, while Juventus have been steady and efficient. The Catalans are slight favourites to win this contest, but Juventus have the more balanced squad.
Dortmund vs. AS Monaco
Football fans hoping to see free-flowing football will likely view this game as the one-to-watch, as two of the youngest, and undoubtedly the most dynamic teams in the competition face off. Expect plenty of goals in this one.
Dortmund have more experience at this stage, as a good number of their squad players have been here a few times, while the bulk of Monaco’s players are experiencing it for the first time.
This is another evenly matched game with no clear favourites; Dortmund regularly look to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the goals, while Radamel Falcao is Monaco’s most potent forward this season. Only 3 of Dortmund’s players have scored 5+ goals in the league this season, compared to Monaco who have 5 players with 5+ league goals.
If Monaco’s defence can starve Aubameyang of the ball, they should make it through to the semis.
Atletico Madrid vs. Leicester City
If Dortmund vs. Monaco is the game the purists want to see, then Atletico Madrid vs. Leicester City is the game they will want to stay away from. Atletico Madrid have conceded only 4 goals in 8 Champions League games this season, while Leicester have kept 5 clean sheets in their 8 Champions League games.
Both of these teams favour a defensive approach, so chances are likely to be few and far between in both games. Atletico Madrid have more experience at this stage, with 2 final appearances in 3 seasons, while this is Leicester City’s first season in the Champions League.
Atletico have the experience and the better players. Leicester City are still embroiled in a domestic relegation battle, which might have an impact on their approach and performance in this tie. Athletico Madrid should have enough about them to secure a low margin aggregate win.
Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich
Two of Europe’s powerhouses will face off in a repeat of the 2012 semifinal, as Real Madrid tackle Bayern Munich. Regarding player quality and experience, this is undoubtedly the tie of the round.
The game also features a master vs. pupil subplot, as Carlo Ancelotti tries to navigate past his former player and assistant, Zinedine Zidane. The pair were in charge when Real Madrid won La Decima in 2014.
Both teams are evenly matched in most areas of the pitch, with Los Blancos holding a very slight advantage in attack. Bayern Munich, however, have a huge factor in their favour; their 10 point lead in the league means they can afford to rest players in preparation for this tie, a luxury Madrid cannot afford as they are in a three-way race for the La Liga title.
No team has successfully defended the Champions League trophy, a jinx 2016 champions Real Madrid will try to break. This game can go either way, but Bayern Munich are fancied by many to advance to the semifinals.