Another Round of 16 is once again behind us, and for the first time since 2011, Germany only has one team left in the competition. Fortunately for the Bundesliga, it is by far their best team, Bayern Munich.
Every team Bayern has faced so far in the Champions League is now knocked out of the competition, leaving the Bavarians mostly Spanish and French teams in their way to another appearance in the advanced stages of the UEFA Champions League. Here is a look at the teams left going into the quarterfinal draw:
|Club||UEFA Coefficient||Titles||2013/14 Finish|
|Real Madrid CF||164.942||10||Champion|
|FC Bayern München||146.483||5||Semifinal|
|Club Atlético de Madrid||115.942||2||Final|
|FC Porto||108.176||2||Group Stage|
|Juventus FC||83.202||2||Group Stage|
While a fair amount of these teams have recent experience in April European competition, the other half of the field does not. The dichotomy makes for an interesting set of possible circumstances the Rekordmeister may have to face. Here is a look at each of the draw scenarios, and how Bayern could fair in each tie:
The Best Draw – FC Porto
When it comes to draws this season, the plastic balls have bounced in Porto's favor. First drawn into the group of life, they received the club with the second lowest remaining UEFA coefficient, FC Basel 1893, in the Round of 16. After spending two of the last three seasons relegated in the Europa League, the Portuguese club reach their first quarterfinal since 2009.
Over the past few seasons, Porto has churned out a plethora of talent that British, Spanish, and French teams subsequently poached from them. The irony? It is Porto's new additions – Yacine Brahimi, Bruno Martins Indi, and Ricardo Pereira – and their veterans – Jackson Martínez and Ricardo Quaresma – that are driving their success. Julian Lopetegui has assembled a fairly balanced squad, the only drawback is perhaps his most valuable asset, Casemiro, is on loan from Real Madrid.
Porto will be a team that will be overwhelmed in the quarterfinals no matter who they face. They will get pulled out of position and will have trouble keeping the ball. The fact that they only topped Shakhtar Donetsk by one goal in the group stage does not bode well for their chances against Bayern.
The Worst Draw – Barcelona
In 2015, only one attack has even come close to what Bayern has done. Fitting, how it is Pep Guardiola's former team Barcelona. Averaging nearly three goals a match, Barcelona has exploded back to the top of the La Liga table, while simultaneously handling Atlético Madrid and Manchester City in their knockout competitions with ease.
The Lionel Messi that Bayern faced in 2013 will not be the Messi that travels to Munich. The Argentinian is in sublime form after losing out on the FIFA World Cup and the Ballon d'Or in 2014, scoring 20 goals in 16 matches so far in 2015. He he also has two sidekicks he did not have before, Neymar Jr. and Luis Suárez. Luis Enrique has finally discovered the correct use of his South American spoils, and now the first-year manager has Barça fans dreaming of a treble once more.
Their achilles heal remains their defense, although Jérémy Mathieu has added and interesting depth piece along with Gerard Piqué, Javier Mascherano, and Marc Bartra. Guardiola will face his toughest tactical challenge yet, even if he does have the best defense in the world. The only disappointing aspect of this clash is it would occur too early in the tournament, for a matchup between these two in Berlin would make a UEFA Champions League final for the ages.
The Revenge Draw – Real Madrid
Whatever gear Real Madrid shifted into last season does not appear to be present in Carlo Ancelotti's second year with the team. They no longer top the La Liga table, dropping several points they could have easily converted. Having snuck past Schalke 04, they last thing they would probably want as part of their title defense is to face the German team they knocked out a year ago.
Trying to manage egos, Ancelotti handcuffed himself to similar tactics this season, which other teams unlocked on several occasions. Many of their victories can be chalked up to the sheer talent of their players. They are without a midfielder that can shield the back, exposing their defense to unavoidable mistakes. Going forward, Cristiano Ronaldo is the best goal scorer in the world even at age 30, but being the one to put the ball in the back of the net is the only thing he seems interested in.
Perhaps their loss against Athletic Bilbao and Schalke 04 in the same week will be the bare-bottom spanking Real Madrid need to reestablish their dominant aura. Los Blancos are far from that aura right now, giving their opponents a sense they might be more beatable than they appear on paper.
The Pain in the Behind Draw – Atlético Madrid
A La Liga title and a strong Champions League run has shed the underdog status of Atlético Madrid. Nonetheless, the Colchoneros are back in the quarterfinals. Can they outclass Bayern? Maybe not, but they are going to be a pain in the rumpus to eliminate.
Atléti have not squeezed some of the results in La Liga they did a year ago, and that has dropped them a tier behind Real Madrid and Barcelona once again this season. Some teams have forced them out of their defensive shell, able to get behind and put Courtois-replacement Moyá in tough spots. Their defense is still among the best in Europe though, able to contain the best teams in Spain.
A title defense is not in the cards, but a return to the Champions League final could be. They can still be a nuisance for a team like Bayern who will take the game to them. They only need a goal or two to make their way past opponents, and any club who draws them will feel like they are punching cement.
The Inevitable Draw – Paris Saint-Germain
The Parisians have reached the quarterfinals two consecutive seasons, and Bayern has already had six opportunities to square off against them in just two years. Rank with world class players and an endless trust fund, it is only a matter of time before the plastic footballs containing their name bounce together.
This is not the PSG team we are used to after the Qatari takeover, but no club should underestimate this side. There were several matches this season where they do not appear interested in playing for Laurent Blanc, but the outsiders have to remember the super club is dealing with a super busy fixture list. The 43 matches they have played is more than any other team in the Champions League. No matter how much money a club has, that number is hard to overcome.
Zlatan Ibrahimović remains the centerpiece to their squad, but the support around him is becoming stronger. Marco Veratti has turned into the Andrea Pirlo disciple Italy fans have hoped for, and Javier Pastore is making his price tag look less embarrassing. Blanc unshackled both of them in PSG's victory over Chelsea, and they more than made up for the fact the Parisians were missing a man. Bayern are still built to handle a team like PSG, but a clash with them would not come easy.
The Proximity Draw – Juventus
In terms of travel time, this would be a dream draw for Bayern, for Turin is closer to Munich than Hamburg is. The distance certainly helped Bayern top Juventus two years ago 4-0 en route to the first German treble. Their visit to Turin may not be as easy as before though.
In a country where clubs are struggling to maintain their status and their personnel, Juventus is the crowning exception. Those who do not pay attention to Serie A football probably did not notice Massimiliano Allegri replaced Antonio Conte, for the outcomes Juventus have collected have not been any different this season from the past few. What has changed over the past few years has been Juventus's midfield, Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal developing into two of the best midfielders in the world. Add Carlos Tévez's potency in attack, and Juventus is a very tricky team to be paired with.
Their defense is certainly not what it was, Georgio Chiellini not as good in a back four as he was in a back three. That said, their midfield knows how to win the ball, a type of midfield Bayern has not really faced this season. This would certainly be a tricky tie, and Juventus is the last hope this season for Italy as Bayern is for Germany.
The Dark Horse Draw – AS Monaco
The state of the club is in a very... well... curious spot. Dmitry Rybolovlev tried to follow the Paris Saint-Germain model, investing heavily in "world-class" talents Radamel Falcao, Geoffry Kondogbia, João Moutinho, and James Rodriguez in the summer of 2013. Only half (probably the worse half) of those players are on the current Monaco team, and yet they still find themselves in respectable positions both domestically and internationally.
People may think the Monaco club is performing way over its head, but their record stands for itself. They have lost once so far this season to the three best clubs in France – Olympique Lyonnais, PSG, and Olympique du Marseille – and have defeated Arsenal and Bayer Leverkusen (who took runners-up Atlético Madrid to penalties) in the Champions League.
Monaco's defense may not be the best in the Champions League, but it certainly is the toughest. Their defense is more frail than fruitful, and yet they can punish teams on the counter attack. They are long shots to win the Champions League, and would be long shots to beat Bayern, but one would be foolish to count them out.
The draw will occur in Nyon, Switzerland at 12:00 CET (7:00 AM EDT). UEFA.com will have the live stream on their website, and you can also check livesoccertv.com for a full set of television listings.