The UEFA Champions League began with 32 teams from various nations across Europe battling hard for the right to be called champions come May. In the group stages, there were some outstanding results as well as upsets, but after a grueling six-match phase, the men were separated from the boys as 16 teams moved on to the next phase, eight teams were granted solace in the Europa League and eight other teams went home with nothing.
In the course of the first knockout round, a few sides gave good accounts of themselves, while others fell by the roadside.
When I saw the draw between Juventus and Celtic, I didn’t need any soothsayer to tell me how that would pan out, and as expected, the Old Lady gazumped past the Scottish champions with a 5-0 aggregate victory. I didn’t know what stood out more for Juve—their efficiency in attack or their amazing defense.
Schalke were rewarded for topping a group that included Arsenal with what seemed like a stroll in the park against Galatasaray. After gaining a creditable draw in the volatile Turkey, complacency crept into their game in Germany and they were duly punished.
Elsewhere, PSG gave a good account of themselves against Valencia, and Malaga showed good form to overturn a solitary deficit and skip past Porto. Many Manchester United fans would be grieving from the events at Old Trafford, but credit must go to Jose Mourinho for taking advantage of the situation.
Germany’s contingent has been impressive, as Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich are also in the last eight of the competition. While Dortmund can boast alongside Juventus for being unbeaten throughout the competition, Bayern can thank their lucky stars that their first-leg showing against Arsenal was more than enough to seal qualification.
No one gave Barcelona a chance after they were humbled in the San Siro, but the greatest footballer on the planet started a rout that saw the Spanish juggernauts sweep past Milan.
The draws of the quarterfinals have been held, and there are some mouth-watering fixtures as well as those that seem like strolls in the park. Without further ado, here are my thoughts and predictions for the quarterfinal draws.