Champions League Quarterfinals preview: Is there a clear-cut favorite?

This week marks the beginning of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, which offer some enticing matches where every team can be a potential winner, excluding Manchester United. United are still in a transitional period after Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of the club since 1986, retired from the position at the end of last season, leaving David Moyes to take the reins at the club. Anyways, here are the different match-ups and the buildup surrounding them, which could make or break a club’s season.

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Chelsea FC: Chelsea will start this tie away at PSG, coming off a crushing 1-0 defeat against a Crystal Palace team who is nearing the relegation zone, which manager Jose Mourinho commented after the match that their title hopes have been dented a bit. An away win or draw at PSG will be favorable for Chelsea, who will come back to Stamford Bridge next week to finish the tie. PSG are led by striking duo Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani, who are coming off 9 consecutive wins in all competitions. However, the team will need to step it up a few notches after a not-so-convincing win at Nice. A bit of Ibrahimovic magic will be surely needed to beat a back line and goalkeeper of Chelsea’s quality.

Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich: United will be facing a daunting task of overcoming defending champions Bayern Munich, who have already clinched the Bundesliga title with 8 games remaining. Bayern manager Pep Guardiola will lead his team to Old Trafford on Tuesday to begin the tie. United will need to pull out all the stops and have a great performance to even think about an upset over the German team, United needing the win to salvage a forgettable first season under David Moyes, who is being called by fans to end his tenure at the club.

Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid CF: These teams will undergo a rematch of last season’s semifinal, in which Dortmund fought hard to defeat the Spanish giants and proceed to the final. Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp recognizes that this time around his team are the “Cinderella” team of this season, a team that will include pivotal figures from last year’s tie, striker Robert Lewandowski and midfielder Marco Reus. After letting Bayern Munich proceed this year to dominate the Bundesliga, Dortmund have all to play for in the Champions League. Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has called his team the most complete, and will look to keep up the pace after a 5-0 win versus Rayo Vallecano. Madrid winger Cristiano Ronaldo will be keeping focus on the task at hand after the home crowd booed him at the Rayo match. Madrid are the heavy favorites in this match.

FC Barcelona vs. Atletico de Madrid:  The all-Spanish matchup will be one of the highlighted fixtures of the quarterfinals, which pits the two top teams in La Liga against each other. Both teams will be able to get a preview of the final match of the La Liga season, which could ultimately decide the Spanish title. Top strikers Lionel Messi and Diego Costa will be one of the more examined faceoffs, with both men facing shaky defenses. Another feature of this game will be the absence of goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who tore his ACL in Barca’s previous match, leaving backup Jose Manuel Pinto to strap on the gloves and face one of the top strikers in La Liga. Atletico will be looking to make a statement at the Camp Nou and bring a favorable outcome back to the Vicente Calderon next week in the second leg.

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