The first two rounds of the knockout stage have now reduced the field in the UEFA Champions League to the best four clubs in Europe. Bayern Munich enter their fourth semifinals on the back of a pronounced comeback against FC Porto, and will have to find an opponent out side of Group D or Group H in order to advance to their fourth Champions League final in six years.
Bayern's next champions league opponent lies in a little plastic football now that the bracket system is firmly out the window. Ramifications will be abound in the five minutes drawn-out, suspenseful minutes it takes for UEFA to pair the four teams. Here are the remaining clubs in the Champions League:
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Each of Bayern's possible opponents have their own distinct style, and would present three separate challenges for the Bavarians late in the season. The best of Spain are back where they belong, while Juventus is helping Italy resurrect its presence in Europe. All three clubs have traveled to Munich in the past two years, and Bayern have shown the ability to vanquish them all in this modern era of the club's football.
With the distinctive directions this draw could turn Bayern's season, the Bavarian Football Works writers weigh in to reveal who they want Bayern to face.
Ryan Cowper – Barcelona
Next to Bayern Munich, Barcelona are the favorites to win the Champions League. With a tactically astute coach in Luiz Enrqiue, and the trio of potent attackers in Messi, Neymar, and Suarez there's no denying the firepower they can bring to bear. All of those concerns make squaring off against them for just 90 minutes in a final a terrifying prospect. To put it bluntly, Barcelona will annihilate Juventus's or Real Madrid's backlines, and I would rather have 180 minutes against Barcelona than 90.
Samrin Hasib – Real Madrid
I would like to draw Real Madrid in the semifinals simply because, on the basis of the quarterfinals, they are the weakest side left in the draw. Using elimination, I would not like to draw Barcelona having seen them dismantle PSG in the quarters. Juventus would be a good draw as well but look like a stable and tactically astute outfit (at least from how they handled Borussia Dortmund in the Round of 16). Real will have plenty of injured players back in the team by the time the semifinals come around but I think, seeing how ready the team was to avenge the first leg loss against Porto in the quarters, and with all (or most) stars back from injury, they can handle Real.
Mike Lynch – Real Madrid
I really just don't like Real and would like nothing more than to avenge last year's performance. Barça is on some kind of a tear right now with their attacking trio heating up at just the wrong time and Juve displayed a really boring style against Monaco who were a pretty inferior opponent. While I am sure Pep Guardiola would find a way to crack their shell, it would not make for a good warm up for the final when Bayern advance.
Phillip Quinn – Not Barcelona
My pick is not so much who I want to play in but semifinals; it is more about who I want to avoid. My preference is to not play Barcelona until the final in Berlin. They are 1B to Bayern's 1A as the two best teams in the world at the moment. I have 100 percent faith that Bayern is built to win the triple once again, but I'd still prefer to face Juventus or even Real Madrid before facing Barcelona.
George Rudnik – Juventus
They're the weakest and most beatable of the other three semifinalists. Bayern already knows how to shut down Juventus's attack, by having the forwards harass Andrea Pirlo and not give him time on the ball. Assuming that Bayern will have some of their stars back (Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribéry, Arjen Robben, maybe even Javi Martínez) by the time they play again, the Italian backline won't be able to handle that firepower.
Davis VanOpdorp – Real Madrid
I am big on spines, and in terms of the rest of the teams left in the Champions League, Real Madrid's spine is the most fallible. They do have one of the best players in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo, but even the United States could keep him from scoring. Los Blancos have gotten away with the departures of Xabi Alonso and Casemiro for most of the season. Against mobile players such as Mario Götze and Thomas Müller, as well as a legitimate world class striker in Robert Lewandowski, their core will rot from the inside. Add in their fitness issues into the equation and Bayern will be licking their chops to return the favor from last season's 5-0 aggregate result.
The draw will take place at 12:00 CET on Friday, April 25 in Nyon, Switzerland. You can watch the draw live on UEFA.com, or click here to see how you can watch on TV.