The UEFA Champions League resumes this week as the world’s greatest club competition reaches the quarter-final stage.
And there are four scintillating ties making up the last eight – the highlight of which arguably being Bayern Munich vs. Juventus as the two heavyweights seek to become kings of Europe following a decade in chase of the most coveted trophy in football.
Juve achieved the high accolade ten years ago; beating Serie A rivals AC Milan on penalties at Old Trafford.
The Bianconeri’s fortunes after that triumph are infamous to say the least however the Italian giants have returned to Europe’s top table with a bang this season.
A comprehensive aggregate success over Celtic in the last 16 sent a stern warning out to the rest of the continent’s main challengers and Juve look more than capable of fulfilling their pre-tournament billing as serious dark horses.
Bayern have come very close to Champions League glory since they last reigned over Europe in 2001 having been ousted in the final twice in the last three seasons.
And Jupp Heynckes men appear even stronger this time around with many believing they are finally ready to eclipse the rest.
With home advantage in the first leg, Bayern will hope to get off to a quick start at the Allianz Arena and supress a Juve team who love to control possession and dictate the tempo of play.
Ties at this stage of the competition are rarely decided after the first ninety minutes however matters could be settled if the visitors are left chasing a two or three goal deficit heading back to Turin.
Real Madrid will be confident of building a sizeable lead when they take on Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu and boss Jose Mourinho would certainly love to be comfortably clear ahead of a potentially tricky second leg in Istanbul, where the crowd often play such a crucial part in proceedings.
Los Merengues dropped points for the first time in weeks in La Liga at the weekend, but their 1-1 draw against Real Zaragoza seemed to merely serve as a preparation for their clash with the Turkish outfit who will not be expected to pull off any form of result if Madrid can perform as they have done since the turn of the year.
Real’s El Classico rivals Barcelona remain favourites to win the Champions League outright but they will have to pass a serious test against up and coming PSG in the quarters.
The French side have emerged as serious European contenders following hefty investment over the past couple of years and they boast a talented squad spearheaded by the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Beckham.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side may well feel that they have been helped by being drawn at home in the first leg but only clear daylight will surely give them a chance going into the second leg at the Nou Camp – especially considering how Barca overturned a 2-0 deficit against AC Milan in the last 16.
The last eight line-up is completed by Spain’s third representatives Malaga and the much fancied Germans Borussia Dortmund.
Financially troubled Malaga shocked Porto in the last stage and look to be a match for anybody at La Rosaleda.
That will be the setting for an intriguing and likely competitive first leg in midweek however 1997 champions Dortmund will be confident of progressing on aggregate.