The Champions League has been whittled down to just eight contestants as the remaining teams found out their quarterfinal fate in Friday’s draw at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
After comfortably dispatching Liverpool in the previous round, holder Real Madrid was drawn against another English club in Chelsea.
Real will be the considerable favorite going into that tie given Chelsea’s struggles this season, but Graham Potter’s side may have finally turned a corner after winning three straight games for only the second time this season.
Chelsea qualified for the quarterfinals after impressively overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Borussia Dortmund thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling and Kai Havertz, who scored the match-winning goal in the final two years ago when the London team beat Manchester City.
However, Real will rightly feel confident that it can once again progress to the semifinals after that statement 5-2 hammering of Liverpool at Anfield in the round of 16 first leg.
It was a historic result – Liverpool’s largest home defeat in Europe – with Real going on to comfortably see out the tie with a 1-0 win at the Bernabeu courtesy of Karim Benzema’s goal, taking the Frenchman’s Champions League tally to 89.
The Real striker has scored a remarkable 13 goals in his last eight knockout matches in the competition, making him the most feared marksman in Europe as the Spanish club continues its campaign to lift a 15th European Cup.
Manchester City’s quest
He may never win the affection of Julia Roberts, but Pep Guardiola will be hoping this is finally the year he can win his first Champions League title without Lionel Messi. When the pair worked together at Barcelona, the Spanish club twice won the Champions League.
The Spaniard came so close to guiding Manchester City to the club’s first European Cup title two years ago, narrowly losing out in that final in Porto, Portugal to Chelsea.
However, there is one key difference for City this season: Erling Haaland. The Norwegian scored a remarkable five goals in the team’s demolition of RB Leipzig and continues to cement his place as the world’s best striker.
Standing in their way is a Bayern Munich team that has even struggled in the Bundesliga this season, only recently being able to open up a narrow two-point gap at the top.
Despite the German side’s patchy form, it still comprehensively dispatched Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League with an assured display over two legs and a team that contains talents such as Thomas Müller, Sadio Mané and Alphonso Davies will always be a threat.
Perhaps the most exciting team in Europe this season is Napoli, which is on course to win its first Serie A title since 1990 after opening up an 18-point lead at the top of the table.
Led by star striker Victor Osimhen, the team has also been a force to be reckoned with in Europe.
Luciano Spalletti’s team comfortably beat Eintracht Frankfurt 5-0 on aggregate in the round of 16 and a combination of a stingy defense and attacking verve has consistently overwhelmed opponents this season.
Napoli will also likely be confident of beating an AC Milan team that currently sits 20 points back in Serie A and only scraped past a beleaguered Tottenham with a 1-0 aggregate score in the previous round.
Benfica and Inter Milan make up the final two teams in the draw and both will likely be confident of reaching the semifinals.
Inter sneaked through a tricky tie against Porto thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s late goal in the first leg, while Benfica hammered Club Brugge 7-1 on aggregate.
The tie was originally drawn with Inter playing at home first, but was switched when AC Milan drew Napoli at home in its first leg as both Milan clubs share the San Siro.
Draw in full
Real Madrid vs. Chelsea
Benfica vs. Inter Milan
Manchester City vs. Bayern Munich
AC Milan vs. Napoli
Europa League quarterfinal draw
Manchester United vs. Sevilla
Juventus vs. Sporting Lisbon
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Union Saint-Gilloise
Feyenoord vs. Roma
Europa Conference League quarterfinal draw
Lech Poznan vs. Fiorentina
Gent vs. West Ham
Anderlecht vs. AZ Alkmaar
Basel vs. Nice