Co-produced with Nathan Frazer-Carroll
European football continues to be as dramatic as ever. In the latest round of continental competition, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid breezed past Lazio and Atalanta, as expected, while Porto and Chelsea defied the odds by overcoming Champions League stalwarts Juventus and Atletico Madrid.
In the Europa League, two British teams managed to sneak through, while the other two crashed out in spectacular fashion.
Arsenal edged past Olympiacos despite losing 1-0 at home, and Manchester United pulled off an exceptional win at the San Siro to send AC Milan packing.
Rangers crashed out chaotically to Slavia Praha in a game which saw face-high tackles, red cards and claims of racist abuse. Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur will still be in disbelief after blowing a 2-0 first leg lead by losing 3-2 on aggregate to Dinamo Zagreb thanks to a stunning hat-trick from Mislav Orsic.
Still, with five English sides in contention across the two European competitions, there were plenty of eyes on today’s quarter-final draws.
If Manchester City are to finally lift the Champions League trophy under Pep Guardiola, they will have to do it the hard way. Borussia Dortmund’s poor league form suggests an easy ride for City, but with Erling Braut Haaland leading the line, nothing is assured.
The winner of that tie will face Bayern or Paris Saint-Germain, two European heavyweights in a replay of last year’s final. Robert Lewandowski, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, among others, will lock horns in what should be a classic – make no mistake, this is without doubt the tougher side of the draw.
Chelsea will be pinching themselves after drawing Porto in the last eight. The Portuguese side played out of their skin to overcome Andrea Pirlo’s Juventus in the last 16, but being 10 points off the pace in the Portuguese Liga NOS tells its own story.
The winner will face either Liverpool or Real Madrid in a face-off of longstanding European pedigree. Both are underperforming in their respective leagues, but both also know better than anyone how to switch it on in Europe.
Shifting focus to Thursday nights, Manchester United will be over the moon after drawing Granada in their Europa League quarter-final. The Spanish outfit sit 8th in La Liga and could only squeeze past Norwegian side Molde across two legs.
The winner will face either Ajax or Roma, the pick of the Europa quarter-finals. Plenty of quality will be on display, and if the Red Devils are to face the winner, they are sure to be in a competitive match-up one way or another.
On the other side of the draw, Arsenal face Slavia Praha. The story surrounding this game could evolve as the dust settles around Slavia’s controversial tie with Rangers on Thursday, but in footballing terms, Arsenal should have more than enough to see this out, provided of course, the trademark ‘Arsenal’ mistakes are left at the door.
The winner will face either Villareal, lead by former Arsenal manager Unai Emery, or Dinamo Zagreb who are still basking in their dramatic victory over Tottenham.
Feature image credit: https://www.soccer.ru/galery/1212130/photo/875163