As the Round of 16 is now complete, the latest edition of the Champions League is certainly heating up and with both the quarterfinal and semi-final draws now made, the path to Istanbul now looks a lot clearer.
Of course, the team that everyone wanted to avoid in the last eight was Bayern Munich and after getting the better of PSG in last season’s final, the defending champions are looking to win back-to-back Champions League trophies.
Which is why the quarterfinal draw has garnered so much attention, as they have once again been paired with PSG and with the French outfit now under different tutelage, their manager will aim for a different outcome.
The man in question is Mauricio Pochettino and after falling short in this competition himself two years ago, the former Tottenham boss will hope that 2021 is the year in which he finally conquers Europe.
Of course, that will not be an easy task and with the Ligue 1 giants being paired with their Bundesliga counterparts something will have to give. Something that may end up being PSG, as if anything, Bayern have only got stronger this season.
With Robert Lewandowski showing absolutely no signs of slowing down right now, the addition of Leroy Sane out wide has offered an extra impetus to the Bavarian’s attack and manager Hans-Dieter Flick will be confident that the defending champions continue their quest to the Turkish capital.
Bayern are undoubtedly the favourites to lift the trophy at the end of May and there are many sportsbooks who are operating such a market. While after a recent Youwager review, they were considered one of the best places to put your money where your mouth is.
Of course, Bayern are not the only entrant in this season’s race and if they do progress to the next round as planned, then it is either Manchester City or Borussia Dortmund who lie in wait for the Semi-finals.
The prospect of City and Dortmund squaring off is an enticing one and none more so, than because of the talents of Erling Haaland. The Norwegian may be wearing the Black and Yellow of Dortmund, but could this be a job audition for the Etihad?
Much has been made of Manchester City’s quest for a new forward and although Haaland does have a release clause that can be activated in 2022, there is a sense that Pep Guardiola may be getting a little impatient.
Therefore, the much-lauded Dortmund star could well be going up against his future teammates and if he were to be responsible for dumping City out of the competition, his transfer value would only increase further.
Another interesting sub-plot in this season’s Champions League quarter final draw is the pairing of Liverpool and Real Madrid and with both clubs stuttering in terms of their domestic form, extra focus is now placed on their European output.
Both outfits are defending league champions, and both are doing a relatively poor job of keeping hold of their prized possessions – Liverpool far more than that of Real Madrid, who still have an outside chance of winning La Liga this season.
Which means, there is a sense that is Champions League or bust for both clubs. Although the reasons are slightly different. For Real Madrid, it might be the one thing that keeps Zinedine Zidane in employment and for Liverpool, the stakes are even higher.
Because on current form, Jurgen Klopp’s men are set to miss out on a top four finish in the Premier League and therefore winning the Champions League, may be their only way to get an invite to European football’s top table next season.
While the team that looks like it will cut off Liverpool’s domestic route is Chelsea and with Thomas Tuchel now at the helm, the Blues are looking more like a juggernaut than opposed to the shipwreck they were under Frank Lampard.
Tuchel of course was the man who led PSG to last year’s final and now he will want to go one better with his new charges. If that is to be the case, then first he will need to dispose of Porto and with them dumping out Juventus in the Round of 16, this will be easier said than done.