The Champions League Round of 16 has finished and leaves just eight teams in the Quarterfinals: Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Chelsea FC, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Benfica, Real Madrid, and Napoli. The draw for the Quarterfinals will be on Friday, March 17th.
Seeing that we have all eight teams in the pot, we will now detail who we want to get in the QFs and who we want to avoid. Let’s see who they are:
Avoid: Real Madrid or Manchester City
Look, I want us to advance to the semifinals of the tournament because we need to banish the ghosts of last season’s painful exit. Real Madrid and Manchester City are two good teams who we can beat, but I’d rather save it for a later round. With that in mind, I want Bayern to get Chelsea as the team to play in the quarters.
The English club needs to be humbled because after Borussia Dortmund happily threw away their first leg advantage to get dumped out of the competition, the former’s fans started chatting that they could beat anyone and are egging rival fans to take them on. Beating English teams also gives a huge feeling of satisfaction because the English can be some of the most annoying people and their bias is gonna skyrocket every time they win. If we do eliminate Chelsea, WAGNH is gonna explode (but that gets them more views so it’s a win-win situation). This is also to avenge Dortmund because, to quote Erling Haaland: “Why not?”
Now that you’ve heard from me, let’s hear it from the rest of the staffers.
Want: Manchester City
Avoid: Real Madrid
City vs Bayern is the marquee tie the world has been longing for, that I have been longing for ever since the start of Hansi Flick’s reign at the club. Arguably the two best club sides since 2019, the world needs to see this game. Additionally, City are hardly the toughest task for Bayern in the Champions League with their dominating possession-based style incredibly inviting for a cheeky counter attacking based system from Nagelsmann. The thought of Kingsley Coman, Leroy Sane, Jamal Musiala and Thomas Muller repeatedly running at pace against an open City backline fills me with great optimism regarding a match with City.
Madrid are clearly the team to avoid for Bayern, however. Their aura in the CL is unmatched and unlike City, they would be happy to counter Bayern which would be a dangerous prospect. Ultimately, I think Madrid has the highest chance of beating Bayern out of all the remaining teams — besides, Madrid-Bayern is a final-esque match, not a mere 1⁄4 affair. Let’s meet them then, but hopefully not at all.
Avoid: Manchester City
Chelsea is a powder keg of ineptitude waiting to explode. With a (possible) lame duck coach at the helm, a roster that is unsettled, and general lack of focus on the actual team on the pitch, it would be fun for Bayern Munich to smash Chelsea. Who wouldn’t love that?
As for who I want to avoid, how about Bayern Munich pushes off a showdown with Erling Haaland and Manchester City until a little bit later. Given how UEFA ends up with some matchups where there is a connection between clubs, it would not be shocking to see this one happen already.
Honestly, the only two clubs I think that could thwart a Bayern Munich UCL crown are City and Real Madrid.
Want: Inter or Chelsea
Avoid: Manchester City or Real Madrid
I feel that we currently have a chance against any English club not named Manchester City. Chelsea is far from its’ terrifying power of the recent past, and though they controversially beat Dortmund in the Round of 16, I am confident that our defenders won’t have too many problems against João Félix, Kai Havertz, or Raheem Sterling. If we can beat PSG, we can beat Chelsea. Inter is a team we have already faced in the group stages, and their lackluster performance against Porto gives me all reasons to believe that we could beat them again.
Quite frankly, I have a pretty good feeling against any team except for Manchester City and Real Madrid. Real can be a nightmare, and we have had some bitter moments against them in the past. This is a team that can always be as uncomfortable as it gets. If we were to play against Madrid, I believe that our chances would be slim. However, the team I absolutely would like to avoid at all costs is Manchester City. My goodness. They took apart Leipzig, and, yes, Leipzig was nothing but a rag doll for City, but the display of sheer aggression, speed, and variability was fearsome. Oh, and they also have Erling Haaland who is simply a beast. Long story short, if we draw Real or City, we probably need a huge miracle to make it past the quarterfinals.
These are my picks. Let’s see what the rest of my team thinks!
Want: AC Milan
Avoid: Real Madrid
I don’t necessarily want anyone; I think Benfica, Inter and AC Milan (or any side perceived to be ‘easier’ than the remaining sides) are terrible draws for Julian Nagelsmann. Considering what happened against Villarreal last season, the thought of Nagelsmann looking ahead to the semifinals and overlooking the quarterfinal matches sends shudders down my spine. On the other hand, I also strongly believe you need to beat the best to be the best — I had no problems with Bayern drawing PSG in the Round of 16 and will have no issues with us drawing Manchester City this round.
I picked AC Milan as a draw I want simply out of nostalgia. The last time Bayern took on Milan was in the 2006/07 quarterfinals; we got a draw in Italy thanks to a late goal by Daniel Van Buyten. I was hopeful for a good return leg — it didn’t happen as Bayern lost to Milan at home. I do not believe the two teams have played each other competitively since then and I would love to see it happen again so many years later.
Coincidentally, in 2006/07, Bayern knocked out Real Madrid to book a date with Milan; in those days, for a short while, Madrid was the laughing stock of the Champions League as they couldn’t get past the Round of 16. It took Jose Mourinho to break that curse. Needless to say, plenty has changed since then and Madrid simply is a different team in this competition than in La Liga. Bayern might be La Bestia Negra; however, I am not buying it and I just do not want Real Madrid to pop out of those tiny, very difficult to open, circular objects on Friday when Bayern’s name is announced.
Avoid: Man City
One striking thing about this season’s Champions League quarterfinalists is the presence of no fewer than three Serie A teams, none of which are Juventus Turin. Of the three, Napoli is the runaway leader, sitting in first place a full 18 points ahead of Inter Milan (and 20 ahead of AC Milan). Napoli just eviscerated Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 in Naples (and 5-0 on aggregate). They are a good team, and it would be an interesting and new challenge in a Champions League otherwise normally full of the usual suspects. I can wait to play Real Madrid or Man City in the semifinals, if I must. To my mind, Napoli offers both something new, and something challenging.
I think Bayern Munich can and should beat Real Madrid, if they happened to be our adversaries. I’m not so sure about Manchester City. Notwithstanding the initial blown call on Ederson’s acrobatics (not that I feel any pity for RB Leipzig!), Leipzig did not have a chance against Erling Haaland and his supporting cast. And it’s not as if Leipzig is a pushover. They’re in third place in the Bundesliga, five points behind Dortmund. Can you imagine Bayern crushing them 7-0, with one player (let’s say Choupo-Moting!) scoring five goals before an hour has passed? This isn’t Wolfsburg of yore. I’d rather wait and see how Manchester City’s luck holds up. They have a lot to play for, just behind Arsenal in the Premier League, and there’s still a lot of time for the unexpected to take the wind out of their bloated sails.