Today, the UEFA Champions league quarter final fixtures were drawn and it resulted in many intriguing ties. Gary Linekar, the Ambassador for this year’s Champions league final at Wembley, and ofcourse the Golden Boot winner in the 1986 World Cup and England’s 2nd all time top scorer, was invited to make the draws. The draw took place at Nyon, France at about 11:00 GMT [4:30 IST], UEFA General Secretary, Gianni Infantino was the host for the day. The draw took place at Nyon, Switzerland at about 11:00 GMT [4:30 IST]. Representatives from each of the 8 clubs including their ambassadors were present at the draw ceremony.
The names of the teams were enclosed in small balls and were kept in a bowl waiting to be drawn by Gary. The first team drawn will play the first leg at home. The first team to be drawn was Real Madrid, the 9 time European Cup winners. Surely everyone would want to avoid them. And the next team drawn was Tottenham Hotspur. Certainly an intriguing fixture. Next up was Chelsea and surprisingly they were drawn against their arch-rivals Manchester United. Certainly one to relish. Then it was FC Barcelona, the team that everyone wanted to avoid and they were literally “awarded” with a tie against Shaktar Donetsk, the team that most teams would be happy to be drawn against. Then holders Inter were drawn against German side Schalke 04. The draw for the Semi Finals were also made. There were some really amazing ties. Lets discuss about them later. So the draw is as follows.
Champions League draw – Quarter-finals
Real Madrid (Spain) v Tottenham Hotspur (England) Chelsea (England) v Manchester United (England) Barcelona (Spain) v Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) Inter Milan (Italy) v Schalke 04 (Germany)
Champions League draw – Semi-finals
Inter/Schalke v Chelsea/Man Utd Real Madrid/Tottenham v Barcelona/Shakhtar
First off, Real against Tottenham. Brilliant fixture for those lovers of attacking and fast football. Spurs are in their maiden Champions League campaign and are doing really well having qualified from a tough group that contained holders Inter and German giants Werder Bremen. They played brilliantly against Inter and the performance of Gareth Bale earned him high praise from legends of the game. And Real are now gelling together. They are a relatively new bunch. Most players were bought in this season or the season before. Jose Mourinho seemed to have found the formula for the team. Karim Benzema who had been criticized for his poor peformances is now hitting toop form in the absence of Gonzalo Higuain. But we cannot rule out a Spurs win here. They have a very good chance of producing an upset since they play the second leg at home.
Chelsea vs United – I need not say anything about this match. The Premier League rivals will battle it out again in the Champions League. They last met at the 2008 Champions League final when John Terry missed a crucial penalty in a penalty shoot out which was eventually won by United. Chelsea have lost significant ground in the Premier League race this term so they will be concentrating on winning the Champions league. They have already beaten united once at home this season. But this meeting will be totally different and I cant wait to see the game.
Barcelona vs Shaktar Donetsk – This season’s Barca team has been prasied as the best Club side ever by many pundits and footballers. They have been absolutely sublime in all competitions. All their players are at the peak of their careers. And they have completely mastered the art of passing football. Lionel Messi has been crucial to their success. He has scored 45+ goals already this season and is destined to break many records. So all other teams wanted to avoid them. Unfortunately Shaktar were drawn against them. Shaktar themselves are not pushovers. This is their best ever performance in the CL making it to the QFs for the first time. They have a well balanced team. In defence they have the discipline of Eastern European Defenders and in attack they have the flair and skill of the Brazilians. Their star players have been Croatia Full back Darijo Srna, Cratian Eduardo, the Brazilians Jadson and Willian among others. So they will be tough opponents but Barca are favorites to go through.
Finally Schalke vs Internazionale, the repeat of the 1997 Uefa Cup final. Inter will be facing German oppositon twice in a row having met Bayern Munich in the last round. This will be a tight affair. Inter have been on top form lately and they are certainly favorites to go through.
The Semi Finals draw added more spice to the Competition. The First semi final will be contested between Chelsea/United vs Inter/Schalke. If Inter win their tie they will face opposition whom they met recently in the competition. The second SemiFinal has more potential for explosiveness. Barca/Shaktar vs Real/Spurs. This tie is destined to be an El Classico between the spanish giants. One thing is for sure, there wont be an all Spanish Final. We will wait and see who makes it to the finals and then to glory at the Glorious Wembley Park.
The dates for the Matches are,
Quarter-finals: April 5, 6 and 12, 13
Semi-finals: April 26, 27 and May 3, 4
Final (Wembley): May 28
I personally cant wait to see the United – Chelsea game. As a Chelsea fan I fancy Chelsea to go through over two legs. Lets hope Fernando Torres starts scoring.