With this season’s UEFA Champions League now at the quarter-final stage, Bayern Munich and Barcelona have emerged as clear favourites with the bookmakers to lift the trophy in Berlin.
With the draw panning out the way it did, there can not be much surprise that Bayern Munich, under the stewardship of Pep Guardiola, are fancied by many to lift the Champions League in 2015. There can be little doubt that Bayern will overcome Porto over two legs and progress to the semi-finals. Barcelona have a somewhat more difficult task against Chelsea’s conquerors, Paris Saint-Germain. The two teams have met four times in the Champions league recently, without too much to separate them. However, with the second leg to be played at the Camp Nou and the great form they are in, Barcelona should have enough to progress.
Italian giants Juventus, will be delighted with their draw and should have enough to defeat Monaco over two legs. Pulling away at the top of Serie A, Juventus can really focus on the Champions League and should be able to prevent Monaco from causing another upset in the competition.
Easily the most anticipated tie, is the meeting between last year’s finalists, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Despite losing the final to their rivals last season, Atletico Madrid have a fantastic recent record against Real Madrid. Out of their last 8 meetings, Real Madrid have not managed to defeat Atletico once, inside 90 minutes, yet with many, remain as clear favourites to progress to the semi-finals. Despite sitting fourth, some 9 points off the leaders Barcelona, Diego Simeone and his team, have the beating of Real Madrid and consolidated that, with a tremendous 4-0 victory over the Champions League holders in La Liga, at the start of February.
Furthermore, Real Madrid are struggling for form at the moment, losing three of their last four matches and there seems to be no sign of them turning that corner. With the first leg to be played at the Estadio Vicente Calderon, Carlo Ancelotti can not afford a repeat performance of their 4-0 defeat, otherwise the tie could be over before the second leg even takes place.
With the retention of their La Liga title seeming more and more unlikely, as Barcelona continue to dominate, come mid-April, Simeone may decide that it’s time to concentrate on progressing in the Champions League.
At this stage of the competition, it’s difficult to pick a winner but with the know-how of defeating Real Madrid and the experience of reaching the final last season, Atletico Madrid have what it takes to lift the UEFA Champions League in 2015.