When the Champions League draw was made for the last-8 in Nyon, Switzerland, it had two very familiar names going against each other and two names that are to Champions League that is like cheese to pizza. While a pizza can exist without cheese, the flavour is just gone. Same can be said for the top level of European football and the behemoths of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. With 16 Champions League/European titles between them, they will go head-to-head in the quarters. As is the case for most matches at this stage or at any stage in the Champions League, it brings together individual elements into focus. A familiar face for one club returning to his ‘home’ or two teams clashing with many common people into limelight.
That would be the case when Bayern Munich face Real Madrid for it would have a Carlo Ancelotti-managed Bavarians taking on his last team with the task of avenging revenge on Los Blancos. The last time these two teams met in 2014, Real, managed by Ancelotti, inflicted a 4-0 hammering on Bayern at the Allianz Arena. Standing alongside Ancelotti at the time as an assistant manager was Zidane – a player the Italian boss has also coached when heading Juventus. So the trajectory of relationship between ‘Zizou’ and Ancelotti is a strong one.
“It will be master against pupil for sure,” Zidane said on Friday. “I was with him as assistant. l learned a lot from him. I’ve not spoken with him [since the draw]. He did great things at this club, and is a very good person. I had the good fortune to get to know him well.”
“You must remember it is the players who will be on the pitch,” Zidane said. “The most important is not the system, it is the attitude, the determination of the players. I live for these games — when I played I preferred these type of games. These [occasions] are very exciting for me,” he added.
In terms of players, Toni Kroos and Xabi Alonso will be playing against former teams. Historically speaking, Real have won their last three matches against Bayern. Strategically, this could be an interesting contest full of goals. Both teams have a flare of scoring goals and pressing forward. At the same time, both have shown some defensive frailties that undoes their job.
Ancelotti on the other hand has no feelings of revenge after being given the sack at the Bernabeu despite winning the Champions League. “The match against Real Madrid will be special for me. It is going to be exciting to play against them,” Ancelotti said. “We have a lot of confidence and want to win the Champions League this season. I think we have the ability to beat Real Madrid. But they have a fantastic team with a fantastic coach. It’s difficult but there are no simple opponents in the quarter-finals,” Ancelotti added. “It is very exciting to return to Madrid but it is just a football match. We want to be the better team against Real.”
Similar to the Madrid-Bayern tie, Dortmund against Monaco could very well result in plenty of goals. Both teams like to attack, surge forward in numbers and have a strong attacking lineup at their disposal. Dortmund have scored 53 goals in the league while Monaco are well ahead in Ligue 1 with 84 goals scored.
In sharp contrast to this, the other two quarter-finals could be cagey affairs with Atletico Madrid playing the surprise package in Leicester City. Both teams are known to hit on the counter and not necessarily like to take the initiative in open play.
The PSG Barcelona against Juventus quarter-final would be a contest of different styles and conventional strategies. Historically, Italian teams are known for their defensive prowess. Be it Fabio Capello’s AC Milan, Antonio Conte’s Juventus or the current Massimiliano Allegri-led Juventus. If there is one team you can count on to defend till the very last second, it is this Juventus side which has only conceded 19 goals this season.