Champions League Quarter Final Draw
With the First Knockout Round done and dusted, Europe's biggest competition is left with it's last eight. It is a year for the Germans to forget, as Bayern Munich failed to get past Manchester City, and Borussia Dortmund, who have been struggling for form ever since their Bundesliga title win last season, were knocked out on a disastrous 8-2 aggregate by Manchester United. In other surprising results, Russian side Zenit also made it through, defeating Portugal's Benfica.
Zenit vs Real Madrid
Zenit have experienced continental success, with two Europa League wins in 2008 and 2018. However, this is the first time the Russian champions have progressed so far into the Champions League. Under the guidance of former Southampton boss Ronald Koeman, Zenit topped a group consisting of Real Madrid and PSV Eindhoven, before knocking out Benfica 5-2 in the First Round. It's been a fairytale journey in Europe so far for Zenit, but Real Madrid will prove to be a huge challenge. Leading the push for a place in the Semi Finals are longstanding servants Hulk and Domenico Criscito, both of whom are going to have to play vital roles to ensure any form of success for their side.
Since the completion of La Decima in 2014, the most successful club in Champions League history have not managed to get their hands on an eleventh European Cup. In a period of English domination, only Liverpool, Manchester United, and Chelsea have made it to the Champions League Finals of 2016, 2017, and 2018. But Real Madrid are looking to change that, and with the brilliant form of Belarusian winger Pavel Savitsky, Gareth Bale, and of course 34-year-old captain Cristiano Ronaldo, they just might be able to.
Monaco vs Liverpool
Monaco have masterminded a rise to the top of French football, and are also on their way to becoming a force in Europe. The arrival of Gerardo Martino in 2016 proved to be the catalyst for change as Monaco went from finishing 6th in 2015/16 to knocking Paris Saint-Germain off their perch, finishing as Ligue 1 champions the season after. If that wasn't enough, they did it again in 2017/18. In the same year, they were knocked out by Barcelona in the First Round of the Champions League, but now Monaco is back with a hunger for European success to follow after their domestic accolades. Holding midfielder Sergi Samper has been the playmaker for his side this season and is definitely the one most likely to make something happen for Monaco, but other dangerous men like Juan Iturbe and Joao Moutinho should not be forgotten.
The current European Cup holders are searching for their third Champions League victory in a row, and considering their current form, it might just be possible. Liverpool are second only to Real Madrid in terms of Champions League success, with seven European Cups to their name, but they're very much in sight of first place with just three more wins to go. The Reds have already secured three trophies this season, and will be keen to build on their success. Powered forward by the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling, James Ward-Prowse, and of course, the world-class Mario Balotelli, opponents have plenty to look out for when facing the Merseyside giants.
Manchester City vs Manchester United
Manchester City have endured a rough couple of seasons. They have not played Champions League football since 2014, due to mediocre league finishes, but just barely edged it last season after a hard-fought 4th placing, and are clearly determined to make the most out of their opportunity. The Citizens are not doing well domestically, having been left in the shadow of clubs like Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester United, but they will be hoping to turn the tide in Europe. A place in the Semi Finals would no doubt prove to be a sweet reward for City fans, who have gone under much suffering in recent years, and to beat United for that place would be even sweeter. An all-rounded side, City have quality in every area, with Victor Wanyama manning the midfield and Niklas Sule at the back. And of course, last but not least, Domenico Berardi, who has been inspiring since joining the club in the summer, leads the attack.
Manchester United are a club on the hunt for that elusive fifth European Cup. They came extremely close last season, only to be beaten by none other than Liverpool in the Champions League Final, a topic that will cause heartache for United fans when mentioned in their presence. Naturally, Joachim Low's Red Devils will be hungrier than ever before and are ready to put the 'noisy neighbors' back in their place. Angel Di Maria and Juan Mata are just two of United's game-winning players, but attacking midfielder Adnan Januzaj, United's top goalscorer in all competitions so far, is the real menace.
Barcelona vs Chelsea
Despite the brilliance of Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi, Barcelona are stuttering this season after a great 2017/18. Real Madrid have a sizeable lead in the La Liga title race, and are not experiencing much of a challenge from the 2nd-placed Catalans. In the Champions League though, nothing is assured, and Barca are desperate to get one over their rivals to make up for their domestic failures thus far. The trio of Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar is not a partnership to be underestimated, but another name worth talking about is center-back Marc-Oliver Kempf, who has been arguably one of the best defenders in the league since signing for Los Cules last August.
Chelsea, like Barca, are faltering in their domestic league. Liverpool are looking comfortable at the Premier League's summit, leaving the title holders to battle it out with Manchester United for 2nd place. Their priority though, is Champions League success, having not won a second European Cup since their maiden victory in 2012, although they have a knack for being defeated in the Final, having fell at the last stage on three separate occasions in 2008, 2016, and 2017. The Blues' European dreams will be left up to the hands of lethal duo Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, as well as reliable wing-back Cesar Azpilicueta and experienced winger Juan Cuadrado.