After yet another dramatic round in the UEFA Champions League, the 8 best teams in the most commercial club competition in Europe are now here. English clubs reminded for themselves after all 4 representatives reached the round – Liverpool and Tottenham impressed against strong German sides Bayern and Dortmund, City didn’t gave a chance to Schalke and Manchester United stunned everyone by overturning the tie against favorites PSG. English sides will have to face the competition of Barcelona, Porto, Ajax and Juventus. We take a look at all for clashes and will preview them for you. Do not forget to follow our blog for more interesting articles on world’s football
Manchester United vs Barcelona
Maybe the blockbuster of the round – Manchester United will host Barcelona after both clubs made memorable second-leg games to reach this level. Both clubs have a big history in facing each other in Europe, but this will be their first meeting in almost 8 years. Barcelona beaten United in UEFA Champions League finals in both 2009 and 2011, but United proved to be the winners in the last two-legged clashes with the Catalans. Last time Manchester United reached the quarters was with David Moyes in charge and they lost to Bayern Munich, so now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his staff will be hoping for a better scenario. After the record start as a manager with 8 wins in a row, Solskjaer’s squad showed glimpses old habits with many injuries and squad rotation taking their toe. Ander Herrera also missed that Wolves match with a knock; Eric Bailly has not played for United since being replaced in the first half at Paris and has been struggling with concussion. Barça are unbeaten in eight away matches in all competitions (W5 D3) and have lost only three of their 23 games away from home this season (W14 D6). Can United produce yet another great performance against stronger side, it is to be seen.
Tottenham vs Manchester City
The other Manchester giant will face familiar opponent having been drawn against English team – Spurs. The first tie will be played in freshly opened Spurs’ stadium and world will have the chance to see it in such high-profile game. The two sides meet for the first time in Europe and Pep Guardiola admitted that despite his side dominance in the league – domestic form goes out of the window now and the chances are 50/50. While Spurs are in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since their sole previous appearance eight years ago, this is City’s third last-eight tie in the past four seasons – and a second successive contest at this stage against a fellow English club. This season, Mauricio Pochettino’s side lost 4-2 at home to Barcelona in their first home game, but beat PSV Eindhoven (2-1) and Internazionale (1-0) in the next two. That helped them overtake Inter to snatch second place in Group B behind Barça; Spurs had just one point after three matches. Then Harry Kane and co. reminded about themselves by trashing Borussia Dortmund 3-0. The league game between the two finished 1-0 for City after Riyad Mahrez netted the winner for the Citizens.
Ajax vs Juventus
After stunning the whole footballing world in the previous round by beating 4-1 the reigning champions Real Madrid, now Ajax have another uphill battle against the runaway Italian leaders Juventus. The Turin’s giants also put on a show to reach this phase by beating heavily Atletico Madrid 3-0 at home and overturned a two goal deficit. In terms of history in Europe, this is maybe the highest profile matches of the round as both club being one of the two most prestigious on the continent. While Juventus are on a hunt of 3rd semi-final in 5 seasons, Ajax never made it that far since 1996/1997. Juve dominate recent clashes with the Dutch side having not lost in 9 games and winning 6 of them. Both clubs exchanged wins in two memorable finals – in 1974 where Ajax won and in 1996 where Juventus won the cup courtesy of Fabrizzio Ravanelli’s goal and a penalty shoot-out. Juve have won all four of the teams’ two-legged contests, most recently prevailing 2-1 in the Amsterdam first leg of their 2009/10 UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie and progressing after a goalless draw in Turin. Juve continued their dominance in the league over the weekend after beating AC Milan 2-1 but the referee’s decision were the major talking point. Will Cristiano be fit for the game, that remains to be seen? Ajax have the be wary because some of their most influential players could miss out the second leg due to bookings: Blind, De Ligt, Tagliafico, Van de Beek, Ziyech.
Liverpool vs Porto
The Reds are on a hunt for another great European campaign after memorable run last season in reaching the final. Now Jurgen Klopp’s side bid to reach Madrid is via another familiar opponent. Liverpool beaten FC Porto in 5-0 aggregate win and certainly will be hoping for a repeat. The Portuguese champions reached this level after impressing against Roma and now will be looking to get a good result before taking the tie in Portugal on 17/04. Liverpool will be on high spirits having made a comeback against Southampton in 3-1 win away from home to keep the pressure at the top for City. Now Klopp have to put either Moreno or Milner at the left back because Robertson is suspended, but Porto’s problems with cards are maybe bigger – Pepe and Herrera will miss out on the Anfield tie. Porto are 3D and 3L against English side in their last 6 games and the prospect do not look good for Iker Casillas and his teammates. Liverpool are 14 matches unbeaten in all competitions (W9 D5), since a 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Wolves on 7 January