No easy draw this time – Madrid must do it the hard way to retain the Champions League
There is no easy draw this time. Real Madrid met Roma,
Wolfsburg and Manchester City en route to the Champions League
final last season, but Los Blancos face a tougher test in
the quarter-finals this season and, like Barcelona, will have
to do it the hard way in 2016-17.
Madrid were paired with Bayern Munich in Friday’s draw in Nyon,
while Barca are to face Juventus in the quarter-finals of
Europe’s premier club competition, meaning the four biggest
clubs left in the competition will play one another in the last
It should be exciting and also intriguing. Madrid and Bayern
have plenty of history in Europe, with five wins apiece in
their 10 ties. Real came out on top in the last of those, a 5-0
aggregate victory in the semi-finals of their Decima-winning
campaign of 2013-14.
Carlo Ancelotti was coach back then and Zinedine Zidane his
assistant. But now the Italian is Bayern boss and the Frenchman
in charge at Real. The master meets the pupil and for Madrid,
it is as tough a draw as they could have imagined.
After something of a slow start at Bayern, Ancelotti’s side
have looked impressive over the past couple of months and the
Germans’ 10-2 aggregate win over Arsenal in the last 16
highlighted how dangerous they can be in attack.
Madrid, meanwhile, have been shipping too many goals and
although Los Blancos advanced comprehensively against
Napoli in the end with back-to-back 3-1 wins, there were
some uncomfortable moments for the Spanish side at 1-0 down in
the second match at the San Paolo.
“It will be a great tie,” Bayern midfielder Xabi Alonso said
after learning he will be facing his former club in the last
eight. “These are two historic teams in Europe and, for me, it
will be very special.”
Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added: “They have won the
competition 11 times. Our motivation is great. But there’s a
law that states that the defending champion does not retain the
trophy, so that’s in our favour.”
Indeed, no side has been able to claim the title back to
back in the Champions League era and Madrid, winners in
two of the past three seasons, will look to break that
statistic – although they will have to beat Bayern first.
Barcelona also face a difficult route to the last four with
their tie against Juventus – a repeat of the 2014-15 final in
Berlin when Luis Enrique’s side won the trophy to complete the
Juventus are perhaps the most consistent team in Europe this
term and Pavel Nedved said: “The challenge comes at the right
time. We are aware of our strength and we respect Barcelona,
but we won’t fear them.”
The tie sees Dani Alves meet the club where he spent eight
successful seasons and Nedved said: “[Leonardo] Bonucci and
[Paulo] Dybala wanted Barca, but Dani Alves wanted to avoid
Most Juve fans probably wanted to avoid Barca, too, while
Madrid supporters will be wary of both Bayern and Ancelotti.
So, while they remain favourites in the Champions League, the
two Clasico rivals will have to do it the hard way to advance
to the last four this time.