Friday’s draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Champions League and Europa League has provided us with numerous vital topics of discussion.
The football competition has been criticized for lacking surprises or diversity in the latter stages, with the same teams appearing in the finals over the past decade.
However, this year’s competition looks to be different with top teams like Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Bayern Munich facing each other early on. Italy has a good chance of having a representative in the final for the first time since Juventus in 2017, with Napoli, Milan, Inter, and Benfica all in the running. This change is a welcome one.
Real Madrid faces tough competition this year, having to go through teams like Chelsea, Manchester City, and Bayern Munich to reach the final. However, it still seems likely that they will make it to the final in Istanbul in June.
The draw has thrown up interesting matchups, such as Manchester City versus Bayern Munich, which sees Pep Guardiola returning to the place where he delivered domestic dominance. Additionally, former Blues goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will face off against his old employer when Carlo Ancelotti brings the holders to Stamford Bridge.
Napoli fans must be feeling like they are in a fairytale season with the team all but wrapping up the Scudetto and now having a chance to add a Champions League crown to their achievements. Milan stands in their way, but few teams have been able to stop their devastating duo Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Victor Osimhen. It is hard to see anyone stopping Napoli’s charge to the final.
Real Madrid v Chelsea
Benfica v Inter
Manchester City v Bayern Munich
Milan v Napoli
The quarter-finals are set to take place in April, with first legs scheduled for 11/12 April and return legs a week later on 18/19 April.
Europa League Talking Points
Manchester United will make their third trip to Spain in three months as they face Sevilla in the quarter-finals of the Europa League. Sevilla will have the opportunity to get revenge for the eliminations of their city rivals Real Betis and Barcelona in the previous rounds, but Manchester United are expected to be the favorites for the tie.
Meanwhile, Sevilla is currently more concerned with avoiding relegation as they sit in 13th place, just two points above the drop zone. Manchester United defeated Real Betis 5-1 on aggregate in the previous round, while Sevilla narrowly defeated Fenerbahce 2-1 on aggregate.
The winner of this tie will face either Juventus or Sporting CP in the semi-finals, while the other side of the draw features Roma, Bayer Leverkusen, Union St. Gilloise and Feyenoord. The first leg will take place in Manchester, with the second leg to be held at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Bayer Leverkusen-Union Saint Gilloise