Winners and Losers from the Champions League Quarter-Final Draw
The draw for the quarter-finals of this year's Champions League took place in Nyon, Switzerland, on Friday.
Here are the four ties in full (the first team mentioned will be at home for the first leg):
Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Chelsea
Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich
In this slideshow, we will take a look at which sides will be happy with their draw, with the acknowledgement that we are talking relatively minor degrees of changes in "satisfaction" here.
At some point, all of the sides involved are happy to be at this stage and willing to take on whomever is put in their path.
Of course, some draws are better than others...
Losers: Manchester United
Whichever draw Manchester United received was going to be tough. Despite coming from behind to knock out Olympiakos in the last round, it is difficult to argue with the general consensus that they remain the weakest side still in the competition.
A draw against another of the supposed "lesser" sides—let us make clear that such terms are all relative at this level of European competition—a Borussia Dortmund, for example, may have increased United's hopes, especially if they were drawn to play the second leg at home.
Instead, they got arguably the worst draw possible: competition holders Bayern Munich, with the first leg to take place at Old Trafford.
It is possible to take the positives from the draw for David Moyes. With Bayern the overwhelming favourites, the pressure is off his side, and they can perhaps play without the fear of failure that has seemed to paralyse them on occasions this term.
On the other hand, if they play like they did in the first leg against Olympiakos (a 2-0 defeat), then they could be given a real hiding by Pep Guardiola's side. With Patrice Evra suspended, Alex Buttner might even be called into action to mark Arjen Robben. This draw might impact Moyes' hopes of retaining his job beyond the current campaign.
Saving face is not something most teams are usually thinking about heading into the quarter-finals of a European competition, but that might be at the back of United's mind this time around.
That's not something conducive to continued progress.
Winners: Real Madrid
For Real Madrid, the pre-draw wishlist would have been relatively simple: Avoid Bayern Munich and Barcelona (and, if they are allowed to be extra-picky, Atletico Madrid too).
In those ambitions, they were rewarded, being handed the intriguing match-up with Borussia Dortmund.
The tie is a repeat of last year's semi-final, one Madrid famously lost 4-3 on aggregate after succumbing to Robert Lewandowski's four goals in the first leg in Germany. Lewandowski is suspended for the first leg (at the Bernabeu) this time around, however, and Real will be motivated by thoughts of revenge.
The two teams have also moved in subtly different directions in the past 12 months. Real have become gradually more cohesive and stable under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti, while Dortmund seem to have struggled for consistency as a remarkable spate of injuries—along with the loss of Mario Goetze and impending departure of Lewandowski—has upset the rhythm of Jurgen Klopp's side.
Real will be prohibitive favourites to progress with all of that considered. While it remains true that no tie is easy at this stage, they will be confident of their chances after dispatching another German side after beating Schalke (just one point behind Dortmund in the Bundesliga) with such ease in the last 16.
"It appears there were stronger rivals in draw," Real legend Emilio Butragueno noted afterward. "Dortmund are not playing as well as last year. Lewandowski's ban is a bonus."
Barcelona enter this stage of this year's competition in something of an interesting position. They are not considered among the outright favourites to go all the way, yet they have many of the same personnel that saw them to the pinnacle of Europe in both 2009 and 2011.
After overcoming Manchester City in the last round (which should perhaps have been a reminder of their pedigree), Barcelona arguably wanted only to avoid either Bayern Munich—who eviscerated them so thoroughly in last year's semi-finals—and the two other Spanish sides.
They were not to be so fortunate.
Arguably, drawing Atletico Madrid was the worst outcome of the bunch. Diego Simeone's side seem to have had Barca's number in recent times, drawing with them on all three meetings to date this term. What is more, they are a very intimidating side and will doubtless drag their opponents through two emotionally and physically draining encounters.
"We've drawn Barça and will look to get through," Clemente Valverde, an Atletico director, warned, per The Telegraph's Oliver Pickup. "We are a team who bases its work on solidarity and persistence and we are uncomfortable rivals for any team."
Already behind to arch-rivals Real Madrid in the domestic league title race, this draw is likely to affect both sides negatively in that regard.
There is at least one source of confidence for Barcelona: Lionel Messi has scored more goals against Atletico than any other club.
Winners: Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea
Neither side will be too upset by this draw, which sees two of the "second-tier" teams left in the tournament face off with a great chance of reaching the last four.
If it is accepted that Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are the class of this year's competition, and that Barcelona should be respected for their pedigree, then PSG and Chelsea are perhaps the next favourites in the tournament and probably with good reason.
Both looked impressive, in different ways, as they defeated Bayer Leverkusen and Galatasaray in the last round, results that will imbue them with the confidence to go even further.
With that in mind, they will perhaps both be content that they have avoided one of the other European heavyweights, although they will be under no illusion about the size of the task that now awaits them.
But both teams will go into the game knowing they are fairly evenly matched and that it is overall performances that will decide the tie. At this level, that is something most top professionals would happily embrace.
Losers: Borussia Dortmund
In fairness, Dortmund were always likely to be losers in this piece almost regardless of who they were drawn against.
Perhaps the least fancied team left in the competition (bar Manchester United, of course), Dortmund's chances of progression were further dampened by the one-match suspension Robert Lewandowski picked up in the second leg against Zenit Saint Petersburg.
Couple that with some long-term injuries and a surprisingly threadbare squad, and Jurgen Klopp's side were not going to go into the quarter-finals in the best of health, regardless of who they were drawn against.
With that in mind, they were rewarded with a meeting against Real Madrid, who have not only been riding high in Europe and at home this season but will be motivated by revenge after going out to Dortmund in last year's competition.
As many as eight of the starting XI that beat Real last season will be missing for Dortmund this time around and, when you factor in Cristiano Ronaldo's seeming desire to break all goalscoring records in the competition this season, all does not bode well for them.
If there are any positives to be drawn, then perhaps it is in the knowledge that they have beaten Real before over two legs and the fact that there is no pressure on them to triumph.
Nevertheless, it looks like a formidable task.
Winners: Bayern Munich
If Manchester United are losers after drawing Bayern Munich—and, if not now, then they likely will be after the second leg—then it follows somewhat logically that Bayern are winners.
The German side beat an English side in the last round, and they will be confident of pulling the same trick on United now, who cannot be said to have played with the same quality as Arsenal over the course of this season.
"We'll travel to Manchester to play attacking football and score goals," captain Philipp Lahm said after the draw, and perhaps it is only hubris that can be Bayern's downfall in this one.
But head coach Pep Guardiola has always maintained that there are no easy games in the Champions League and is surely going to keep his side focused and motivated.
As long as he does that, it figures to be a less stressful quarter-final than they might have expected against Real Madrid or Chelsea (if only for the Mourinho-Guardiola factor), for example.
Winners: Atletico Madrid
Saying that a side that has been drawn to face Barcelona was a "winner" would have been almost unthinkable just a season or two ago, but in the case of Atletico Madrid on Friday it probably rings true.
Unlike most other sides in the draw, Atletico will not be intimidated by Barcelona or fearful of the challenge they face—indeed, they might instead be grateful for being handed a familiar opponent.
Gerardo Martino's team will not be easy opponents, but they have not been entirely convincing at times this season, and Atletico have been one of the clubs to benefit.
They have not lost in three meetings with Barca so far this season (OK, they have not won either, but it is possible to progress with two draws if away goals play in your favour) and will be confident that, with the likes of Diego Costa and Koke in form, they can challenge their more vaunted opponents.
Facing an old foe has an added benefit. By being drawn against a side they know well, and being guaranteed two games of "Spanish-style" football, Atletico's relative inexperience at this level is unlikely to be exposed in the same way it might have been against Bayern Munich, for example, or Chelsea.
They are by no means guaranteed to advance, but they will fancy their chances. If there is one drawback, however, it is that such a tie might detract from their ongoing La Liga title challenge.