The quarterfinal line-up for the Champions League is complete after the second legs of the final four last-16 ties were played out this week. And if you cast your eyes over the teams that remain, this season’s tournament is shaping up to be the most hotly contested in years.
We’ve got a cacophony of different sides who love to play the game in their own unique styles and a mixture of squads at various stages of development. There are new kids on the block, seasoned veterans and a few teams in between
But before getting too far ahead of ourselves, what can we take from this week’s games?
On Tuesday, we saw a much-changed Real Madrid XI finish the job against Schalke, triumphing 3-1 on the night thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo brace; they won through 9-2 on aggregate.
Meanwhile, Chelsea saw off an atrocious Galatasaray side 2-0 on the night after their 1-1 draw in the first leg. Roberto Mancini’s side were truly deplorable, as Chelsea could and perhaps should have won by a much wider margin.
Wednesday saw Borussia Dortmund make it into the quarterfinals for the second consecutive season despite losing 2-1 at home to Zenit St. Petersburg.
David Moyes also earned himself some much-needed breathing space after a hat-trick from Robin Van Persie helped Manchester United turn around a two-goal deficit against Olympiakos.
Here, we delve a little further into those matches and see what we can ascertain ahead of what promises to be a thrilling finish to this season’s Champions League…
Real Madrid Ready To Land The ‘Decima’
A tenth European Cup triumph has eluded Real Madrid in somewhat frustrating fashion. They famously won the first five European Cup competitions and have won the tournament four times since. But that illustrious milestone of a tenth title—the ‘decima’—has escaped their clutches for more than a decade, having last won the competition back in 2002.
Under Carlo Ancelotti, they look as though they are ready to land that elusive tenth European crown. Los Blancos have stormed to the summit of La Liga and in the Champions League they are brushing capable opponents aside with relative ease. Even in the second leg with Schalke, a tie where Ancelotti drafted in several fringe players with the tie already won, they looked in superb fettle.
Players like Asier Illarramendi, Isco, Raphael Varane and even Iker Casillas have featured scarcely as of late, but showed they are more than capable of doing a job when called upon, Madrid dominating Schalke once again at the Bernabeu. Factor in the talents of the mercurial Ronaldo and the blossoming Gareth Bale, not to mention the efforts of Angel Di Maria and Luka Modric in central midfield, Ancelotti’s side have match winners all over the pitch.