So, the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal may be over, but for Bayern Munich, the season is entering its most critical phase. While the club still have to face Chelsea in the second leg of the Round of 16, the draws for the Quarter Final of the UEFA Champions League takes place on Friday. Hansi Flick and his men have time to prepare, so they will probably watching this draw rather intently to find out who their opponents will be in the coming rounds of the UCL.
Who will be involved in Friday’s draw? Four teams have already qualified:
Atletico Madrid (Spain)
Paris Saint-German (France)
RB Leipzig (Germany)
In addition, the winners of the following ties have yet to be determined:
Chelsea (England) vs Bayern Munich (Germany) [Bayern lead 3-0 on aggregate]
Napoli (Italy) vs Barcelona (Spain) [1-1 on aggregate, Barca lead by away goals]
Real Madrid (Spain) vs Manchester City (England) [City lead 2-1 on aggregate]
Olympique Lyonnais (France) vs Juventus (Italy) [Lyon lead 1-0 on aggregate]
For the purposes of this preview, we’ll make some assumptions:
- Bayern beat Chelsea on aggregate.
- Barcelona beat Napoli on aggregate.
- Juve overturn the deficit to beat Lyon on aggregate.
The City-Real match is too close to call, that will be dealt with separately. Now, according to the rules of the draw, any team can be matched up against the other, there is no seeding or country protection. So, with that in mind, who are the easiest draws left in the competition? Well, here’s my take, ranking the following teams from hardest to easiest. A separate list of the hardest draws will come out tomorrow, so stay tuned for that one as well.
Without further ado, here are the best possible draws for Bayern Munich in the UCL QF’s, ranked from hardest to easiest:
Only just beating out RB Leipzig and Atalanta for this spot, Liverpool slayers Atletico Madrid are, in my opinion, the fourth easiest draw for Bayern in the UCL quarters. Before you send angry emails to our site manager complaining about how I’ve clearly gone mad, hear me out.
Diego Simeone has a formidable team, that’s for sure. In his tenure at Atletico, they’ve earned their reputation as one of the most stalwart defensive juggernauts in Europe. However, recall that the UCL will be a one-legged tournament this season, and Simeone has a notoriously poor record in that kind of format. His team is also not as formidable compared to recent seasons — the Colchoneros sit 10 points behind Barca in the Spanish league table, and they’ve scored only 47 goals in 35 games.
That doesn’t mean they can’t put the hurt on Bayern though. As we saw with Liverpool, you underestimate Atleti at your own risk. It’s just that this particular iteration of Bayern Munich is perfectly suited to bus-parking opponents like Atletico, with players like Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller currently in the form of their lives.
Of course, “easy” is a relative term in Champions League parlance, and Atletico will doubtless be stern opponents. However, Bayern have a pretty decent chance of beating them if the two are drawn together, putting them at the top of this list.
I can feel the pitchforks being sharpened as we speak. Yes, PSG have Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, and they have a good coach in Thomas Tuchel. However, Ligue 1 was cancelled early, meaning they’ll come into the UCL quarters without any significant match practice, and Tuchel’s record in knockout competitions is poor. Bayern Munich hold the advantage in midfield, and Alphonso Davies is probably one of the few players in the world who can handle the raw speed of Mbappe.
Therefore, the circumstances come together to make PSG one of the easier draws the Bavarians can get in the UCL quarters.
The two FCB’s have not faced each other since the 2014-15 season, where the Catalans beat Pep Guardiola’s Bayern 5-3 on aggregate en-route to a treble. Since then, Barcelona have basically stagnated, with poor decision making at the board level wreaking havoc on a formerly competitive squad.
Today, the Catalans sit 4 points behind Real Madrid in the league table, with only the genius of Leo Messi keeping them from sliding further down into Arsenal-esque mediocrity. Their coach, Quique Setien, is not exactly a renowned tactician, and their transfer of Antoine Griezmann isn’t working out as they’d hoped. Basically, this team is Messi FC right now.
Unfortunately, Messi is so good that he could knock out Bayern by himself if given the chance. However, Flick’s pressing system is a hard-counter to Setien’s slow possession-based buildup, so there’s a good chance Bayern could stamp their authority on the game if matched with the Catalans. The only way to beat Messi is to cut off his supply of the ball, and Bayern are one of the best teams in the world at denying opponents time and space in possession.
Overall, this would be a good draw to get. However, there’s one more top team having an even worse time than Barca right now.
Juventus are currently good enough to beat Lyon, but they’re not going to get very far in the Champions League. Since Maurizio Sarri took over from Max Allegri, the Old Lady has transformed from one of the best defensive teams in Europe to a frail, lumbering beast that occasionally sputters into life every now and then.
Sarriball hasn’t stuck. Even the brilliance of players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala cannot hide the fact that Juve are woefully under-equipped in the fullback and midfield departments. They also stand to lose Miralem Pjanic this month to Barcelona (though we don’t know if he can still play in the UCL) and their center backs have been ravaged by inconsistency and injuries.
Given Bayern’s style of play under Flick, Juve would be the perfect team to come up against in the Champions League quarter finals. Their weaknesses are Bayern’s strength, and their attack lacks the raw pace and lethality to really worry Bayern’s defense. Folks might not agree, but right now Juventus are one of the weakest teams left in the Champions League, and lots of things need to change if they want seriously challenge for the title. Go ask the folks on BWRAO if you think I’m wrong. They won’t disagree.
Now that I’ve given you a rundown of the best possible draws for Bayern in the Champions League, here’s a disclaimer:
In football, anything can happen.
So even if we end up drawing one of these teams, there’s no excuse for the team to take it easy or give anything less than 110%. The Champions League eats complacency for breakfast, and the current format of single-legged ties until the final doesn’t help Bayern’s chances. If Hansi and the boys wanna win the treble, they’ll have to show an even higher level of play after the break than they have done previously. It’s possible, but there’s still plenty of work left ahead for this team.
Who do you think is the easiest draw on this list?
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