The Champions League is down to the last eight teams. There are some intriguing ties to be played in the quarter-finals. Who are the favourites to make it through to the semi-finals? Which team looks the most likely at this stage to be crowned champions of Europe for 2016?
Wolfsburg – Real Madrid
Bayern Munich – Benfica
Barcelona – Atlético Madrid
Paris Saint-Germain – Manchester City
Wolfsburg are having a poor season domestically, but they have excelled themselves in the Champions League. Reaching the quarter-finals is a huge achievement. Could they possibly produce a big upset by knocking out the mighty Real Madrid? Real Madrid have been inconsistent in La Liga, with their best performances having been saved for this competition. No doubt they will be happy with this draw, losing this tie would not be acceptable.
The German side have some good attacking players who could cause Madrid a few problems. I can see them scoring a goal or two, it’s at the other end where I fear for them. The Madrid attack will prove to be just much to handle. I expect this to be a high-scoring tie, with Madrid coming out on top. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Karim Benzema, will ensure Madrid progress to the next round. Real Madrid to win by 4 goals on aggregate.
Bayern Munich produced a great comeback against Juventus to make it to this stage. They are undoubtedly one of the best teams in Europe currently, and will feel they have an excellent chance of winning this competition. Benfica will be dangerous opponents. The Portuguese side continue to improve and on their day they can give any team a game. They have already surpassed expectations in this competition, beating Munich would be the icing on the cake.
Bayern Munich will start this tie as big favourites. Pep Guardiola’s team are efficient in all areas of the pitch, and possess some of the best players in Europe. They are goal-scoring machines, as they showed in the last round, coming from 2-0 down at home to Juventus, to win 4-2. Benfica are a good team, but they don’t have enough to come through this tie. Bayern Munich to win by 4 goals on aggregate.
Barcelona are currently on an incredible run of form. They sit top of La Liga, have reached the Copa Del Rey final, and are also still fighting for the Champions League. Could they possibly win back-to-back trebles? They will play Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals, which will be no walkover. Diego Simeone’s team possess one of the best defensive records in Europe, they are a tough team to beat. This is the standout tie of the round.
So how do you go about trying to overcome Barcelona? A team who look unbeatable on paper, they continue to prove their dominance on the pitch. The front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar, look unstoppable. But if any team in Europe can nullify them, it will be Atletico. Atletico will have to play with intensity for 180 minutes, defend for their lives, and put away the chances they create. Even then I still don’t think it will be enough for them to win. Barcelona to win by 2 goals on aggregate.
Paris Saint-Germain-Manchester City
Paris Saint-Germain continue to improve with every year. They have already wrapped up the French league, and will now be looking to conquer Europe. Are they ready to challenge the top clubs in Europe and be crowned winners of the Champions League? They will face Manchester City in the next round. City have been poor by their standards this season. But they still possess a strong squad, with the players they have, you can never rule them out.
On paper these two teams are evenly matched. Both have some of the finest attacking players in Europe. If you go by current form, PSG have to start as favourites to progress. They have a well-balanced team, put together by an extortionate amount of money. If City are to find a way to win, their big players will have to step-up. The likes of Yaya Toure, David Silva, and Sergio Aguero, will have to be on top form. I think PSG will just edge it. Paris Saint-Germain to win by 2 goals on aggregate.
Who are the favourites to be crowned champions?
Out of the eight teams remaining, I believe five teams are capable of winning the competition. Wolfsburg and Benfica have both done well to get to this stage, but neither have the quality to win it. Manchester City have the quality, but their form is poor, I don’t think they are capable of lifting the trophy this season. There are too many teams better than them.
Paris Saint-Germain will pose a threat to whoever they face. They are getting closer every year to challenging for the Champions League. I think it is still too early for them, they will eventually just fall short. Atletico Madrid are also dark horses for the competition. If they can overcome Barcelona, they can go on the win the competition.
The big three teams; Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, will all feel that this could be their year. Madrid have been inconsistent this season, especially in the big games. They will need to improve if they are to be crowned champions of Europe. Bayern Munich look the biggest threat to Barcelona. They have everything required to win this season’s competition, and will want to send manager Pep Guardiola out on a high.
It is hard to look past Barcelona. They are playing some of the best football we have ever witnessed. A few teams are capable of stopping them, I just don’t see it happening. I think Barcelona will win this year’s Champions League, for the second successive season. In doing so, they will have to be regarded as the greatest club team to have played the game.