The football world has exploded into euphoria after the UEFA Champions League body announced possible quarter-finals draws today.
Just a day after revealing that clubs would play the second legs of the last sixteen matches in their home turf, the quarter-final fixtures have given us a glimpse of things to come.
Dates of fixtures
7–8 August: Round of 16 second legs (home teams’ stadiums)
12–15 August: Quarter-finals (Lisbon)
18–19 August: Semi-finals (Lisbon)
23 August: Final (Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Lisbon)
Atlanta to face PSG, Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid
The only four teams through to the Champions League quarter-finals offer some interesting fixtures. Atletico will look to build upon that ruthless two-legged win over English Champions, Liverpool when they face surprise package, RB Leipzig.
Free-scoring Atlanta, meanwhile, will take on French Champions PSG, in a match that may yield plenty of goals considering the potent attacking package of PSG and Atlanta’s forward dynamism.
R Madrid or Man City to face Either Lyon or Juventus
Cristiano Ronaldo might have a chance to face his previous employers if Juventus overturn the first leg defeat to Lyon.
Just as long as Real Madrid, resurgent after the restart, haul Manchester City over the railings. City leads Madrid 2-1 and will be confident of completing the job at the Etihad.
Napoli or Barcelona to face either Chelsea or Bayern
Having lost 3-0 to Bayern at Stamford Bridge in the first leg, only miracles, or maybe a sleight of hand, would lead to Chelsea wedging an obstacle between Bayern Munich and the quarters.
On the other hand, Barcelona, topsy turvy, fickle-as-loose-pollen-on-a flower Barcelona, will seek to beat Napoli following a 1-1 draw at San Paolo.
But as Napoli showed in the first leg, Barcelona lacks the wherewithal to break teams down. Not even Messi can inspire the current pale shadow of a former giant.
Thus, Bayern will pose a significant danger. And the German Champions have done so to a brilliant Barcelona side in the past (7-0 in 2012/13 over both legs). Into how many pieces will they rip the current limp side?
Chelsea too, should they perform miracles akin to those of Rome, should fancy their chances against Barcelona.
If Napoli goes through, though, that’s a different ball game altogether.