It’s that part of the year again, where the Champions League Round of 16 is almost over and top teams across Europe begin looking forward to their next opponents in the competition. Bayern Munich are one of the biggest teams left, and certainly the one most opposing fanbases will not want to see in quarter-finals.
But who will Bayern Munich want? Here’s a complete ranking of all the possible draws Bayern can get in the next round of the UCL, in increasing order of “difficulty”. Of course, let’s not mistakenly imply that any of these draws would be easy — it’s the Champions League, after all.
Should be a piece of cake: Lille OSC If they somehow get past Chelsea, Lille would probably be the weakest team left in the competition. Whoever gets them could consider it a straight ticket to the semis.
Edit: Yeah Lille are now knocked out. No surprises there.
Tricky but doable: Villareal CF
Like Lille, Villareal aren’t through to the quarters just yet, but they are in a better spot because they didn’t lose the first leg. Still, Juventus are the favorites in that tie, and while there’s a decent chance that Villareal could get past them, the quarters is likely the furthest they’ll go.
Edit: I’m an idiot, Villareal are through. It wasn’t even close in the end. Wow.
The group stage redux: SL Benfica
Bayern Munich already dispatched Benfica in the group stage, so this draw shouldn’t carry any surprises. But the problem is, Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern looks a lot weaker right now than it did six months ago, and Benfica seem like they have all the tools to nab a victory over a careless superclub.
That being said, Bayern are no Ajax — we’ve got the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, and others who can make the difference in games like these. Benfica were competitive with Bayern back in the group stage, but the games should still have a similar outcome.
Like playing Elden Ring on a bad PC: Juventus Massimiliano Allegri probably doesn’t play video games, but if he did then he’d like From Software games a lot. They mirror his philosophy, because truly nothing is more excruciating than playing against a Juventus side that has gone 1-0 up. Allegri’s teams are here to make you miserable. They will make you question the nature of football as a sport. They’ll make you question why the game hitches and stutters every five seconds. But ... they’re beatable. Federico Chiesa is out for the season, Juve have other injury and fitness issues, and aside from Locatelli the midfield is rather weak. A good performance from Bayern Munich should beat them. But tou have to work hard and really dig in, because this is a tie that demands commitment. And “should” doesn’t equate to “will”, especially when an Allegri team is involved.
Edit: Wow this aged poorly. No Juventus for us. Which is a shame, because we could’ve beaten them pretty easily if tonight was anything to go by.
Punching a wall, but the wall punches back: Atletico Madrid
Atletico are kinda like Juventus, but better. Their attack might be slightly weaker, but it’s made up for by a more settled midfield, and a much more athletic defense. Diego Simeone has made a career out of knocking huge clubs out of the CL, and everyone knows his playbook by now. Still, as we saw with Manchester United last night, knowing the playbook doesn’t always mean you can counter it. Simeone’s tactics are unrivaled in their efficiency.
For Bayern, this would be another tie where the misery continues.
They’ll have to walk to Munich: Chelsea FC
Sanction FC would be tough opponents, especially since they have a serious coach now. As long as Kai Havertz’s credit card gets them to Munich on time, they have a strong chance of knocking Bayern Munich out of the competition. This isn’t like the team Hansi Flick beat 7-1 en-route to the treble — they’ve grown a lot.
Chelsea will be held back by the fact that they probably will not be allowed fans in the home leg, the general furor around the club’s ownership, and the fact that their strikers are Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku. Still, this tie would be a 50-50 at best — and that’s a pattern that continues as we progress down this list.
Oh, to give Pep Guardiola a haircut: Manchester City
Man City and Bayern Munich have been widely considered the best teams in the world for the last three years, so it’s weird that they’ve never been drawn together in the UCL. This would be a reunion for Pep Guardiola and Leroy Sane, and whoever wins the tie would probably go on to become European Champions. It’s a mouthwatering game for the neutrals, but will give Bayern fans no small amount of stress.
Who’s the referee?: Real Madrid
Real Madrid are likely lower on everyone else’s lists, but consider this — they have a great matchup against Bayern. Vinicius Jr. and Karim Benzema are the perfect forwards to take advantage of Nagelsamnn’s leaky defensive setup, and with Modric, Kroos, and Casemiro they can easily stamp their authority on a relatively weak Bayern midfield.
Given how recent games against Real Madrid have ended, Bayern Munich fans will probably be clamoring for a rematch. But trust me when I say this — we’re not ready yet. There’s a long way to go.
Quarantine your social media: Liverpool FC
The nightmare draw — it really doesn’t get worse than this. Jurgen Klopp has Liverpool playing like a machine. Don’t let their spot in the EPL table fool you, this is a team to be reckoned with. Pretty much every aspect of their team is the complete package. In terms of simple matchups, they have a solid gegenpressing system which is exactly what Bayern struggles with.
They’re not invincible of course, but Julian Nagelsmann has never beaten Jurgen Klopp. That record is unlikely to change this season, at least not until we get Alphonso Davies back (and figure out the defense).
So, that was a long one. How would you rate these teams? Do you think City is a worse draw than Liverpool, for example? Comment below!
Who is the hardest draw on this list?
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