Alright everyone, we had our fun yesterday. Now it’s time to focus on the best teams in the Champions League, the ones that are certain to give Bayern Munich a run for their money. If a team denies Hansi Flick’s side the treble this season, it’s probably on this list. While the Bavarians still have to get through Chelsea, the quarter final draw takes place on Friday. So now’s a good time to take a look at the potential opponents before we draw one.
As a reminder, details about the draw can be found on UEFA’s website. Here’s a basic rundown of the teams that are participating. Four teams have already qualified for the next round:
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.
- Madrid and City are equally likely to go through against each other.
We’ve already covered the easiest possible draws for Bayern in part 1 of this series, which you can read here. Part 2 will now list the hardest possible draws for the club, ranked in increasing order of difficulty. Let’s take a look.
Julian Nagelsmann is the only coach that Hansi Flick has faced and failed to beat even once, and RB Leipzig are the only team to take points off Bayern in 2020 so far. Leipzig therefore edge out Altetico in the hypothetical club rankings, as they seem better equipped to deal with what Bayern brings to the table. Their style of defending is not as passive, and they have all the tools to trouble the Bavarians at the back with counterattacking football.
However, familiarity and experience plays a role, and Flick probably won’t let Nagelsmann get the better of him a second time. The Lawnballers will also be without the services of top scorer Timo Werner, who made his move to Chelsea before the league season even ended.
This makes RBL probably the easiest of the “hard” draws Bayern could get in the QF’s. Additionally, they will be hampered by the break in play between the league season and the commencement of the UCL, more so than Bayern will. RBL don’t have a second leg pending to get back up to speed , while Bayern will come into the game with one match under their belt (provided the boys get past Chelsea, of course).
However, games against Leipzig are always tough, so Flick and his men will still need to be at the top of their game to get past them. Complacency cannot exist in the Champions League. This competition isn’t easy to win.
Controversial pick, but hear me out. I couldn’t name a single Atalanta player from memory, but the Bergamo-based side have scored more goals this season than any team not named Bayern Munich. Gian Piero Gasperini has created a rock-solid system that has his players scoring for fun. This could present big problems for Hansi Flick’s side, as the single-legged format of the tournament ensures that a quick goal can quickly turn the tables in Atalanta’s favor.
Like Leipzig, Gasperini’s men are also no strangers to pressing and quick counters, so their superior attack gives them the advantage. Bayern Munich this season are more vulnerable to active and dynamic teams that attack, so this is why you won’t see Atletico Madrid or Juventus on this list. Matchups matter, and Atalanta isn’t a great one for Bayern.
Assuming that Manchester City make it past Real Madrid, they will probably be favorites to win the whole tournament. Bayern fans are familiar with Pep Guardiola and his tactics, and it would be an interesting tactical matchup to see how Hansi and Pep decide to tackle each other’s systems.
City are probably one of the hardest teams for Bayern to deal with at the moment. With players like Raheem Sterling, and Kevin De Bruyne, they have an attack that rivals Bayern’s front four on paper, plus a ton of pace on both flanks. Alphonso Davies alone won’t be enough to counter that. Meanwhile, given the strong technical nature of Pep’s midfield, Bayern will have a tough time dispossessing the Citizens and keeping the ball away from them. Pressing the opponent is Flick’s bread and butter, but it remains to be seen how he does against a team that is truly press-resistant like City.
To draw comparisons to a team that Bayern have faced recently, you could say that City are much, MUCH better version of Bayer Leverkusen. We saw how Peter Bosz caused problems for Bayern this season — now imagine a team like that, but with better personnel, better tactics, and a better mentality. City’s main weakness is their frail defense, which is a weakness that Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, and Serge Gnabry will be happy to exploit. But in a single legged match, weaknesses are diminished — it’ll come down to which team is better on the day.
Should Real Madrid stage a comeback win against Man City in the second leg of their tie, then they would undoubtedly be the worst team for Bayern Munich to face in the quarter finals. While City might be the better team on paper, Madrid are perhaps the worst matchup for this Bayern team. They have a tight defense, an excellent midfield, and a strong offense — creating a supremely balanced team. While maybe not the best in Europe in any of those three areas, Madrid are good enough that the sum of all parts would give Bayern a run for their money. They don’t have the same glaring flaws that other teams in the competition (like City) seem to have.
In addition, let’s not forget that Madrid are the kings of the Champions League, and they have an ironclad mentality that comes to the forefront in this competition. That factor mentality will only be amplified by the single-legged ties and lack of home field advantage. And let’s not forget Real Madrid’s special advantage. There’s no need to put it in words, every Bayern fan knows what I’m talking about.
Update: Some additional info is that Sergio Ramos might be suspended for the game. Checking transfermarkt, it says he’ll only miss 1 game (the second leg against City). So whether he will be available for a potential QF game or not is unclear at the moment. If he isn’t, then that’s probably a knock against Madrid. However, they are still the most dangerous team on this list (though the folks voting in the poll don’t seem to agree).
So that was a rundown of the hardest possible draws that Bayern Munich could get in the UCL quarter finals. Yes, we’re quite aware that there’s still a second leg against Chelsea left to play. Normally, we wouldn’t write something like this until advancement to the next round is confirmed, but this is a special case.
This article was written for the sake of generating discussion, given that the draw takes place tomorrow. So discuss below who you think is the hardest potential draw for Bayern in the later rounds of the UCL. And don’t forget to vote in the poll, of course.
Who do you think is the hardest draw on this list?
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