Europe’s top competitions have reached the quarter-final stage and there are some fascinating ties as the last eight action prepares to get underway.
From blockbuster encounters between European giants, to compatriots clashing in continental competition, this week’s schedule is not one to miss. Here are five exciting European ties to watch this week.
Manchester City v Bayern Munich
Champions League clashes don’t get much better than this, as the two tournament favourites go head-to-head. Manchester City against Bayern Munich pits together two star-studded teams and the victors will be a significant step closer to being crowned European champions.
There’s sub-plots and stars galore, as Pep Guardiola faces his former side and Leroy Sane and Joao Cancelo return to the Etihad in Bayern Munich colours. Add in the recent appointment of Thomas Tuchel at Bayern Munich – the man whose Chelsea team beat Guardiola’s City in the 2021 Champions League final – and it is a contest filled with narrative.
🗣️ “A lot!” 🤣
Pep Guardiola’s reaction to be asked if Manchester City want to win the UEFA Champions League. pic.twitter.com/MNXr1ndwza
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) April 10, 2023
City will start as favourites in the first leg and enter the game in scintillating form. Guardiola’s side have won eight consecutive games in all competitions and their last four games have seen 21 goals scored alone, including that 7-0 thrashing of RB Leipzig to book their quarter-final place.
Bayern will pose a tougher test than their Bundesliga rivals, but have lost two of their last four in all competitions. The Bavarians have, however, been flawless in Europe this season. Having navigated the tournament’s ‘Group of Death’ – featuring Barcelona and Inter Milan – with six straight wins, Bayern beat Paris Saint-Germain home and away in the last 16 to reach this stage.
AC Milan v Napoli
There is guaranteed Italian representation in the Champions League semi-finals, after the draw for the last eight paired AC Milan with compatriots Napoli.
With Inter Milan also into the quarter-finals, it is the first time that three Italian sides have reached this stage since 2005/06, while the victors of this clash will be the first Serie A side to reach the semi-finals since Roma in 2017/18.
Napoli have captured the imagination of fans this season with outstanding performances both at home and in Europe, with Luciano Spalletti’s side 16 points clear at the top of the table and closing in on a first league title since 1990. In the Champions League, group stage thrashings of Liverpool (4-1), Ajax (6-1) and Rangers (3-0) were followed with a comfortable passage past Eintracht Frankfurt in the last 16.
AC Milan cruise past Napoli 😱
They meet again next week in the UCL quarterfinals 👀 pic.twitter.com/Xor3k1cTg0
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 2, 2023
However, despite Napoli’s status as comfortably the best team in Italy this season, this tie has taken on a new narrative following the league meeting between the sides earlier this month. Rafael Leao scored twice as AC Milan thrashed Napoli 4-0 at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, with the reigning champions inflicting a humiliating loss on the champions elect.
With Napoli’s leading scorer, Victor Osimhen, also set to miss the first leg in Milan, the Rossoneri will be quietly confident.
Real Madrid v Chelsea
Real Madrid’s defence of the Champions League will continue against Chelsea this week, as the teams meet in a rematch of last season’s thrilling quarter-final tie.
Karim Benzema’s hat-trick in west London had put Real Madrid in control of the tie after the first leg, but the return was one of pulsating drama as Chelsea almost came back to progress.
The Blues fought back to lead 3-0 at the Bernabeu and move ahead on aggregate for the first time, before Rodrygo’s brilliant finish forced extra-time. Benzema had the decisive say, with his header in the added period sending Real Madrid through 5-4 on aggregate.
🗣️ "I am sad… I am a supporter of Chelsea!" 💙
Carlo Ancelotti is asked whether he would ever return to Stamford Bridge 👔 pic.twitter.com/ONU2zl6Jww
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) April 11, 2023
Chelsea will start as underdogs after a disastrous domestic season that leaves the club in the Premier League’s bottom half, but will take encouragement from a strong head-to-head record against the Spaniards. Chelsea have lost just one of their seven meetings with Real Madrid in Europe, as the last two winners of the Champions League meet in the competition for a third successive season.
Frank Lampard’s reign as interim manager began with defeat at Wolves at the weekend, but it’s difficult to ignore the narrative that comes with Chelsea in the Champions League after a mid-season change of manager. Each of the club’s two successes in Europe have come during seasons when managers were axed, with their first under the guidance of an interim head coach.
Roma v Feyenoord
Jose Mourinho made history after leading Roma to the UEFA Conference League last season, as the Italians won the inaugural competition to continue Mourinho’s perfect record in European finals.
Mourinho became the first manager to win a European trophy with four different clubs – Porto, Inter Milan, Manchester United and Roma – and took his total to five major European titles, completing the hat-trick of Champions League, Europa League and the newly-formed Europa Conference League.
Roma’s victory came after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Feyenoord, a game which saw the Dutch side dominate possession before losing to Nicolo Zaniolo’s decisive goal. The two teams will renew rivalries this season after being drawn to face each other in the Europa League’s last eight.
Feyenoord this season 👏
▪️ 22 games unbeaten
▪️ 64 points in Eredivisie
▪️ 8 points lead to Ajax
▪️ Europa League quarter final (AS Roma)
Formidable 🌟 pic.twitter.com/vmMIzXkoJh
— Stats24 (@_Stats24) April 4, 2023
Feyenoord will enter the clash in fine form, having lost just once in the Eredivisie to establish an eight-point lead in the title race. Arne Slot’s side are in pole position to claim just a second league title since the turn of the millennium, while there is a quiet confidence the club can compete for a third UEFA Cup/Europa League title.
Feyenoord thrashed Shakhtar Donetsk 7-1 in the second leg of their last-16 tie to reach this stage. Santiago Gimenez – linked with Manchester United and Tottenham – has been a revelation since his summer arrival from Cruz Azul, with the 21-year-old having scored 18 goals in all competitions.
The tie will take on a unique look, with away supporters banned from both legs. The decision comes following trouble between the two sets of fans ahead of last season’s European final.
Manchester United v Sevilla
Manchester United have made positive progress under Erik ten Hag this season and will continue their pursuit of the Europa League against Sevilla this week.
Ten Hag’s team will host the Spaniards in the first leg as the Red Devils look to continue their impressive home record this season, one which has seen the club win 19 of 24 fixtures at Old Trafford in all competitions.
Ten Hag will be hoping to go one step further than in 2016/17, when his inexperienced Ajax side lost the Europa League final to his current employers.
🔴 Just Marcus Rashford things… ☄️@MarcusRashford || @ManUtd || #UEL pic.twitter.com/uMizj9B5sG
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) March 21, 2023
United meet Spanish opposition for the third straight round, having eliminated Barcelona and Real Sociedad to reach the last eight. Sevilla have a formidable record in this competition and are the record six-time winners of the UEFA Cup/Europa League, but are enduring their worst domestic season in more than two decades.
Sevilla have not finished lower than tenth in La Liga since promotion back into the top tier in 2000/01, but the Andalusians are 13th in the table and just five points above the relegation places. Sevilla missed the chance to pull clear of trouble after conceding 89th and 93rd minute goals to blow a two-goal lead against Celta Vigo at the weekend.
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