Champions League Quarter Final Draw
With many minnows making it into the knockout stages of the Champions League, the First Round served to remove them - Ukrainian club Metalist suffered a 5-1 trashing at the hands of Chelsea, while F.C. København also failed to show up against Juventus and got dominated 8-0. However, only the big clubs remain and there are definitely going to be some exciting games on display in this season's Quarter Final.
Liverpool vs Roma
Liverpool took the Champions League by storm in 2017 and will be looking to do the same this year. The current European champions scraped past Schalke in the First Round with a 2-0 aggregate win, and they're ready to repeat their feat of 1977 to 1978, where they claimed the European Cup twice in two consecutive seasons. The Reds boast of a highly-capable defensive back line containing the likes of David Alaba and Eder Alvarez Balanta, and also have powerful midfield options in James Ward-Prowse, Mario Balotelli, and Raheem Sterling.
Roma have certainly demonstrated their strength in Europe, upsetting Bayern Munich in the First Round and easily smashing 4 goals past their German opponents. The Giallorossi have yet to lift a European Cup, although they came close in 1984 where they finished runner-up to, rather coincidentally, Liverpool, and will be keen to find the European success that they have been craving for. 22-goal striker Seydou Doumbia is one that opposition defenders have to pay close attention to, while big things are also expected of the exciting Roberto Pereyra, who has been largely unplayable this season.
Manchester United vs Real Madrid
Beating Dortmund 3-0 in the First Round, Manchester United are entering the Quarter Final in search of their fifth European Cup. The Red Devils have plenty of history in Europe, and clinched their last Champions League title in 2016 under the management of Joachim Low. David de Gea has been an immense presence for United this season and will be relied upon to keep out Real's goal-hungry forwards. Luke Shaw will also be an important figure as well as United vice-captain Kevin Strootman. But the true danger men are undoubtedly going to be Adnan Januzaj and Juan Mata, both of whom share a whooping combined total of 37 goals and 39 assists.
Despite having somewhat of an aging squad, Real Madrid are no pushovers, showing as much when they easily outclassed Arsenal 3-0 to make it to the Quarter Final. As the team with the highest number of European Cups, Real are eager for an eleventh Champions League victory, but have largely failed to impress since La Decima in 2014. Things might very well change this time though, and with key players like Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Toni Kroos, and of course, Cristiano Ronaldo, the captain himself, Real are ready to make a rampant charge to the Final, although they will have to get past Manchester United first.
Chelsea vs Juventus
The last of the English clubs in the Quarter Final, Chelsea made quick work of Metalist to advance and will be relishing a bigger challenge against Juventus. Jose Mourinho's Blues are having one of their best seasons, and they possess a huge incentive to win the Champions League this season having finished runner-up two years in a row, to Manchester United and then to Liverpool last year. Fans will look toward Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado to provide the assists and Diego Costa to score the goals. Of course, another major factor for success is going to be the performances of Ballon d'Or winner Eden Hazard.
Knocking out F.C. København with 8 goals like they were nothing, Juventus is certainly one of Europe's strongest giants. Six Serie A titles in six seasons serve to prove just that. Unfortunately, they have not done as well in the Champions League, only managing to win it on two occasions in 1985 and 1996, although they have finished as runner-up five times. This year, Juve are going to attempt to change that, and have armed themselves with 34-year-old striker Carlos Tevez, who has only gotten better with age, Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen, and star midfielder Paul Pogba.
Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain
After vanquishing Monaco in the First Round, Barcelona will have to face another French opponent in Paris Saint-Germain. The Catalans have been trapped within the shadow of rivals Real Madrid in recent years, but have emerged back into the light splendidly this season and are currently top of La Liga by eight points. As of now, Barca are on form, and might just be able to use that form to win their sixth European Cup. A back pairing of captain Gerard Pique and the ever-reliable Marc Bartra is going to deter many strikers, but what will truly strike fear into other teams' hearts is the dream trio up front of Luis Suarez, Neymar, and Lionel Messi.
After an impressive 5-2 rout of Czech side Viktoria Plzeň, oil-rich PSG remain the only French club in the last eight. Thanks to their mega-money Qatari owners, PSG have been turned into arguably the best team in the nation. However, they have yet to expand their domestic success further into Europe, and are hoping to do exactly that. The aging pair of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 36, and Edinson Cavani, 31, are in the twilight of their career but they remain important players and can still produce the goods. Nevertheless, it is young Spanish winger Fede Cartabia that opponents have to look out for, and full-back Mattia De Sciglio.
Mattia De Sciglio