Champions League Quarter Final Draw
We're back to that time of the year with only eight clubs left in the UEFA Champions League, all competing against each other to be crowned as Europe's best. Liverpool have taken the title for the past three years, but could the famous European Cup go to someone else this season? It has been nothing but upsets so far - Serie A champions Juventus were unexpectedly defeated by Russian side CSKA Moscow, while Olympiacos masterminded a brilliant victory over out-of-form Bayern Munich, and the two unlikely clubs go into the pot for the Quarter Final draw. Can they make something happen again? We shall see.
Liverpool vs Chelsea
In what will be a classic matchup from England, Liverpool take on their London rivals Chelsea for a spot in the final four. The Reds are overwhelming favorites to retain their Champions League title and rightfully so, after already adding the League Cup, Community Shield, Club World Cup, and the UEFA Super Cup to their trophy collection from this season. Brendan Rodgers' side also sit comfortably at the Premier League's summit with more than 10 points clear of 2nd-placed Manchester United. However, usual shot-stopper Jeronimo Rulli has been forced out of this particular tie because of injury, something that will definitely work against Liverpool. They have more than enough quality to back up Rulli's absence though. Colombian center-back Eder Alvarez Balanta will be called upon to protect backup goalkeeper Jason Steele, while in midfield, the Merseysiders boast the likes of influential captain James Ward-Prowse and the exciting Raheem Sterling.
Chelsea have a lot to play for, and not just to reclaim the Champions League, a competition they last won in 2017. A chance to get back at Liverpool after their 5-0 humiliation in the Semi Finals of the Capital One Cup will be welcomed by many Chelsea fans and perhaps even their players as well. Additionally, the Blues have dropped out of this stage for two consecutive years now and they will have to pray for a third time lucky. With Liverpool's Jeronimo Rulli out of the picture, the firepower of former Ballon d'Or winner Eden Hazard and goal-hungry Salomon Rondon may just allow Jose Mourinho's men to achieve that
Real Madrid vs CSKA Moscow
Real Madrid were so close to a record 11th European Cup last term, but lost out at the very end as Liverpool emerged triumphant from the 2019 Champions League Final. But Andre Villas-Boas is determined to see his side being the ones celebrating this time, evident from the fact that the young Portuguese manager splashed a total of £65 million this season to bring in 10 new players into the Real squad. Despite all the new faces, the vital players remain the same and Los Blancos legend Cristiano Ronaldo, still as fresh as any other youngster at the age of 35, is one of them. Aside from Ronaldo, opponents will have to watch out for other oldies such as Gareth Bale and Toni Kroos, both of whom still pack plenty of creative play.
CSKA Moscow pulled off one of the biggest upsets in world football as they advanced to the Quarter Finals at the expense of Juventus, after winning on away goals in an aggregate score of 2-2. The Russian Premier League champions fought admirably to deny the 35-times Serie A winners, but it remains to be seen if they can do the same versus Real Madrid. CSKA Moscow boast some familiar names such as captain Igor Akinfeev, a one-club man, and former Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu, who has been fantastic since moving to Russia in 2017. Together, the two have to be at their best if CSKA Moscow want to get anything out of the clash and snag a win against yet another footballing giant.
Olympiacos vs Arsenal
Olympiacos joins CSKA Moscow in the Quarter Final after upsetting the odds against Bayern Munich, a defeat that will only rub salt on their Bundesliga wounds. However, instead of relying on away goals, the Greeks managed to grab a complete 4-3 win over two legs, and could prove to be a tough challenge for Arsenal to handle. In history, this is only the second time Olympiacos have managed to reach this stage in the Champions League, and if they overcome the Gunners, they will make it to the Semi Finals for the first time since the club's founding in 1925. Team leader Dimitris Siovas has been ever-present in the center of defense for his side this season, while promising left winger Andreas Terlelis is someone who can give any opponent problems. But the real issue for Arsenal to handle may just be goalkeeper Roberto, who recently earned his first cap for Spain at the age of 34 just weeks ago.
Arsenal's recent years in Europe have been rather forgettable, although they did manage to clinch the Europa League last season. After a long ten-year absence, they have finally reached the Quarter Finals of the Champions League once again and a relatively easy draw against Olympiacos may have been a reward to a club that has patiently waited for another chance to take home their first European Cup. Indeed, the Londoners are one of very few top sides in the Premier League whom have yet to win the Champions League, but this year might just be their biggest opportunity yet. Since his appointment, Gunners manager Roberto Martinez has overseen a positive change, and with quality players such as Aaron Ramsey, Lorenzo Insigne, and Douglas Costa, it would be madness to rule them out of finally ending their European Cup heartbreak.
Manchester United vs Barcelona
Manchester United are one of the biggest clubs in the world, but have failed to win a trophy since 2016. This year, manager Joachim Low will attempt to change that, although first he has to face the tough challenge of Barcelona. Since Liverpool's re-emergence back into football glory, United have been left behind in the dust, but they can sooth that easily by claiming a fifth European Cup, something that has eluded the Red Devils since Louis van Gaal masterminded a win over Chelsea four years ago. Talented full-back Luke Shaw will be an important part of United's plans to cruise to the Final, as well as enthusiastic midfielder Mateo Kovacic. Leading the attack is of course, none other than star man Adnan Januzaj.
Although they finished at the top of La Liga in 2018, Barcelona have not managed to keep pace with archrivals Real Madrid in recent times. Last year, they played second fiddle in the Spanish league, and also lost to them in the Semi Finals. Their last successful Champions League campaign came in 2015 and since then, Barca have been unable to even get close to the title. Things show no sign of changing this season, but it is far too early to dismiss the Catalans' chances, especially with Lionel Messi in their ranks. The forward, fresh from winning the Ballon d'Or, is an absolute menace, and along with his partners-in-crime Neymar and Luis Suarez, is capable of blowing away almost any opposition.