The football world stood in anticipation as the Champions League quarter-final draw unfolded.
Europe’s top eight clubs have learned their faith as the draw had its say on matching up some of the mouth-watering duels in this stage of the competition.
Last season’s finalists Atletico Madrid have been pitted against this season’s biggest surprise Leicester City, whereas Borussia Dortmund will play electrifying AS Monaco. As for the reigning European champions, Real Madrid travel to Munich, whereas another Spanish side Barcelona takes on Juventus. Once again.
With all four first legs scheduled to be played on 11th and 12th April and rematches a week later, here are the five things we learned from the draw:
Pupil can overcome his master
Carlo Ancelotti faces his former club Real Madrid and his former student Zinedine Zidane in what truly is a match worthy of the final showpiece.
Two of Europe’s most successful teams have been enjoying quite a run of late and will go head to head in this clash of the titans with all of the limelight directed towards the two prolific strikers Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, it’s the former master and his pupil who are threatening to steal the fame from their stars on the pitch.
Zinedine Zidane was Ancelotti’s assistant when the Italian helped Los Blancos to La Decima back in 2014, whereas the Frenchman matched his master’s achievement last season, in his debut season as coach.
Zidane confesses he had learned a lot from the Italian and the very fact he was so dedicated pupil will allow him to hold an upper hand on the Italian. Zidane is sharp and boasts a well-equipped squad, but Bayern Munich are not to be taken lightly as their winning mentality goes deep in the DNA.
Nevertheless, I firmly believe that the pupil can overcome his master.
Monaco given the best chance to go through
They have been one of the top-attacking side in Europe and 85 goals in the Ligue 1 are great testament to such a description of AS Monaco, who have been pitted against a rival they have most chances of eliminating.
Their last-16 tie against Manchester City was an emotional drain and AS Monaco will use some time to blow off steam before they lock horns with tough Germans, who are not top of their game at the moment, however.
Thomas Tuchel’s men struggled with inconsistency throughout the season and, despite topping their Group F in front of Real Madrid, are not unbeatable.
AS Monaco are the talk of the town, but quite deservedly as Leonardo Jardim’s team are a well-organised, fluent unit, with plenty of attacking potential and players who will be a good match to Dortmund stars.
Juventus love the smell of revenge
Leonardo Bonucci’s wish came true as Serie A champions were pitted against Barcelona.
Two years after their Berlin final, the two giants meet again – this time in the last eight – aware that this game might be the biggest obstacle on road to Cardiff.
The two teams have thus far met seven times with Barcelona winning three and Juventus two. Since their last meeting, plenty has changed, but mostly when it comes to Juventus. Some would say that Bianconeri have evolved as they head in the Barcelona clash with a completely different team than the one Catalans beat in 2015.
Pogba, Vidal, Pirlo, Tevez and Morata are no longer there, some of the other starters are no longer first in the pecking order which is more than what could be said for Barcelona.
Luis Enrique is likely to field almost an identical line-up this time to the team that started two years ago. With the expectation of now Juventus right-back Dani Alves, who is in for an emotional comeback to Camp Nou, all other players are still leading the way for the Catalans – including the MSN trio, Rakitic, Iniesta, Busquets and the same old faces in defence.
The newly-improved Juventus can almost pick up the scent of revenge, even though bookmakers are favouring Barcelona to go that far to win the competition at 11/4 betting odds.
Leicester could have a Shakespearean closure
The choice of words is quite obvious as Craig Shakespeare will lead his men into a tough battle in the Champions League quarterfinals.
Leicester City in Europe have been a huge contrast to their domestic selves, where a string of poor performances cost the hero Claudio Ranieri his job. Football romantics are still mourning the Italian’s departure, but the shock therapy gave results as the Foxes seem to be back on winning ways.
Spectacular Sevilla elimination now sends a warning to Atletico Madrid that Leicester are here to stay and that they won’t go without a fight.
Diego Simeone’s men have quality-packed squad and the experience is working in their favour, but their season has been such an unreliable factor and the lack of consistency is there to offer Leicester a lifeline of hope that this struggling season might yield another staggering surprise.
A Shakespearean closure if you like.
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