We finally know our final last-eight line-up for this year’s seemingly never-ending Champions League.
Big guns Bayern Munich and Barcelona confirmed their spots in the mini-tournament in Lisbon, which begins on Wednesday night. The two former Champions League winners will join six sides in Portugal who have never managed to win one European cup between them, adding even more intrigue to an already unprecedented tournament due to the chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
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Lionel Messi once again showed his greatness for Barcelona as they swiped aside the threat posed by Napoli to emerge as 3-1 winners on the night and 4-2 on aggregate. The diminutive Argentine ran the show in a frenzied first half that saw him clobbered, claim a vital penalty and score a wonderful solo effort that must be a contender for goal of the tournament.
Bayern, meanwhile, illustrated why they have been so dominant all season on the domestic scene in Germany and in Europe as they finally put Chelsea out of their misery with a 4-1 win in Munich for a 7-1 aggregate triumph.
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While Barcelona looked back to their silky best — only VAR and some stout Napoli defending kept the score down — the quarter-final proposition that Bayern will pose will be a different matter altogether.
No offence to Napoli, but the Bavarian giants are simply in a different class to Genarro Gattuso’s Italians.
Former Bayern maestro Lothar Matthaus is under no illusions that Barca will pose a massive threat, but he believes Bayern will be simply too strong for the Spanish side who relinquished their La Liga crown to Real Madrid this season.
The clash of the clubs with 10 European Cups between them is clearly the standout tie of the four one-legged quarter-finals, but Matthaus sees only one likely outcome.
“Of course Barcelona have the quality to be at their best in a game,” Matthaus said.
“But I think Bayern would have to make a lot of mistakes and do a lot of things badly to lose to this Barcelona.”
While Barcelona have been in poor form of late in the Spanish league, Matthaus has urged caution ahead of the Lisbon meeting.
“In a one-off game, things can happen. You do something bad and you’re out. You can correct these things in two-legged ties,” he said.
Champions League quarter-finals
Kick-offs 11pm UAE
Atalanta v Paris St-Germain
Leipzig v Atletico Madrid
Barcelona v Bayern Munich
Manchester City v Lyon