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From Liverpool to Guardiola – The big winners & losers from the Champions League quarter-final draw

Posted by on March 15th, 2019

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So the Champions League quarter-finals have been set, and we’ve got some delicious ties.

We’ve got two rematches of finals past as Manchester United face-off against Barcelona, recalling the 2009 and 2011 showpieces (as well as the semi-final in 2008) whilst Ajax take-on Juventus, a rematch that goes all the way back to 1996 when the Bianconeri ended Ajax’s attempts to defend their title at the very last hurdle.

There were only two sides of the last eight that had never won the Champions League before and both of them have been drawn to face each other. Spurs and Manchester City will throw down in what is sure to be a bruising all-Premier-League clash whilst Liverpool will round out the quarters by facing off against Porto.

Who were the winners and losers of the draw? Read on and find out!

Winner: Liverpool

Well that’s pretty good, eh? After drawing the second-toughest group and then arguably the second or third toughest possible round of 16 opponent, Liverpool have gotten an easy ride in the quarter-finals. Sure, Porto are no mugs, but they’re an well within Liverpool’s grasp.

This will be a double-edged bonus for the Reds. Not only do they have a fairly guaranteed path into the semi-finals (they thrashed Porto 0-5 in last season’s round of 16) for the second year in a row, but now they will find it easier to keep up the pressure in the Premier League title race. The Porto tie sandwiches a match against Chelsea, and were the Dragons fearsome opponents then the chances of the Reds being upset by the Blues would have been very high; now they can allocate their resources more appropriately.

Everything’s coming up Klopp!

Loser: Manchester United

Ole’s at the wheel but the bus is heading for the side of a mountain called Barcelona! After overcoming the gigantic PSG in the last round, Manchester United must now take on the best side in the competition so far who just so happen to have the best player in the world too.

United will have no fear, and past history shows that as long as it’s not a final, they actually fare pretty well against the Blaugrana. But this is a sizeable task that has been placed before them. Barça are yet to lose a game in the competition thus far and bar a couple of periods in the second halves away to Spurs and Lyon, they have controlled every game from start to finish.

Never write United off (mountains are there to be climbed!) but this draw was not kind to Solskjaer’s men.

Winner: Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo had scored just one Champions League goal coming into the round of 16. It wasn’t a good return for a player Juve signed to win this competition in particular. Then he drew a blank away to Atleti, but that was obviously a fluke because he loves it against the Madrid side and sure enough, he hammered a second leg hat-trick to help Juve progress.

Now he’s been drawn against Ajax, and whilst it’s not quite the 25 goals he has against Atleti, he does have an impressive seven goals in five games against them, and given he was scoreless in his first contest that means he’s scored seven goals in his last four games. And yep, that includes a hat-trick. Wanna bet on him bagging another one in the quarters?

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Loser: The big boys

PSG should have steamrollered Manchester United, that they didn’t was a horrific embarrassment, but having seen the draw they will even more furious as they would have been given the chance at revenge against Barcelona. The chance to avenge the 6-1! Instead they created a bottlejob almost as impressive as that one. Oh well.

Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, meanwhile, are perennial fixtures in the final four or at least the quarter-finals. They’ve won five of the last six editions of the tournament and both should have progressed (Bayern moreso because they kept a clean sheet at Anfield and Liverpool are poor away from home). Instead they lost, and Bayern missed out on a surefire path to yet another semi-final whilst Los Blancos won’t get to have a showstopping showdown with Cristiano Ronaldo.

Winner: Premier League

It’s been 10 years since the Premier League last had four clubs in the quarter-final stage. That year three of them made the semi-finals (because one of them was eliminated by another) and although none of them won it, that so many reached the latter stages was a huge boost for the league’s standing across the globe.

Now, it’s happened again. Half the quarter-finalists are from the Premier League and what’s even better is that two of the sides have been drawn against each other whilst another has the easiest draw possible. So that’s half of the semi-finalists that will also represent the Premier League and there’s a chance it could be three again if Manchester United can somehow upset Barcelona.

Good times for England’s top flight.

Loser: Pep and Poch

Intra-league ties in the Champions League always have a weird sort of feeling to them. Intra-Premier League ones especially so because the helter skelter style of football in England is so out of step with the way Champions League football is played.

What’s worse than that is also fixture repetition. When you play an opponent too many times in too short a window then tactically planning for the games becomes a nightmare. Do you go strongest line-up first? Won’t that give your plans away to your opponent? Which game do you prioritise? How do you juggle your squad?

Well, Manchester City vs. Spurs presents us with both of these problems! Over 12 days in April, Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola will have to lead their sides out against one another no less than three times. That many games in that short a space of time is sure to lead to some strange results, and even if City prevail in Europe that could leave Spurs perfectly poised to strike back and destroy the Sky Blues’ title challenge. Essentially, there’s no winners here.

The post From Liverpool to Guardiola – The big winners & losers from the Champions League quarter-final draw appeared first on Squawka News.

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