Chelsea, Manchester City and Bayern will be the rivals of Real Madrid, Atlético and Villarreal, with the return matches at the Bernabéu, the Metropolitano and the Munich Arena
Tough Champions League quarter-final draw for Spanish football. Beyond the good news of having avoided a fratricidal duel, the rivals of the surviving League teams in the highest continental competition invite us to think about very complicated qualifiers, as, on the other hand, could be expected from the penultimate round of the best tournament in world clubs.
Perhaps the best standing within the complicated of the three opponents is Real Madrid, who will nevertheless face the current defender of the title, Chelsea, white executioner in the semifinals of the last edition. The paths of 'blues' and madridistas had never crossed in the Champions League until last season and now they meet again less than a year later.
This time the first assault will be at Stamford Bridge and the return at the Santiago Bernabéu. It will be at a convulsive moment for the London team, in the midst of an institutional crisis due to the sale process in which the club finds itself, given the link between its owner, Roman Abramovich, and Vladimir Putin, and therefore the focus of government sanctions. British for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The seizure of the tycoon's assets has left Chelsea in a legal limbo, in which the club is not operational for many of its usual activities and cannot sell tickets, so the duel could even be played behind closed doors. It remains to be seen how this institutional uncertainty will ultimately affect the squad and the coaching staff headed by Thomas Tuchel, who has already reiterated his full willingness and that of his players to compete in full conditions for the remainder of the season.
Even worse fortune for Atlético, which for the first time in its history will face Guardiola's Manchester City, leader of the English Premier League, current runner-up and perhaps the favorite to win the 'orejona'. At least the tie will be resolved at the Metropolitano, after the first leg at the Etihad.
Possible semi-final derby
Meanwhile, Villarreal will face the powerful Bayern Munich, who reached the quarterfinals after scoring seven goals against Salzburg in Bavarian land, where the second leg will be played. It will be the second face-to-face between the yellow submarine and the biggest team in German football, after the German double victory in the group stage of the 2011-12 Champions League, a bad memory for the team from La Plana as they fired at the first change and without scoring.
Finally, Liverpool has undoubtedly been the most graceful team, with the surprising Benfica as a rival and the possibility of sentencing the pass to the semifinals at Anfield. Looking ahead to the semi-finals, Real Madrid and Atlético could face each other in the semi-finals, as happened in the 2016-17 season. In that case, the first leg would be played in a rojiblanco fiefdom and the return leg in Chamartín. For its part, Villarreal would cross paths with the winner of the duel between Benfica and Liverpool if they left Bayern behind, as they did in the round of 16 with Juventus.
Manchester City - Athletic.
Villarreal - Bayern Munich.