The boys have been separated from the men and the pretenders from the contenders as this season’s UEFA Champions League enters the quarter-final stage. The draw, which was held at UEFA’s Head Quarters in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday, March 15, produced mouth-watering fixtures.
Ajax Amsterdam, who eliminated defending champions, Real Madrid will take on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus of Italy in a rematch of the 1996 finals which the Italians won on penalties after full and extra time had ended 1-1. Both sides have met 12 times in UEFA competitions. Juventus have won six times while Ajax have won only twice.
Last season’s finalists, Liverpool will take on Portugal champions, Porto, who they destroyed 5-0 on aggregate in last season’s round of 16. To qualify for this stage, Porto eliminated Roma while Liverpool sent German champions, Bayern Munich packing. In their previous six meetings, Liverpool have won three times and drawn as much. Porto have never defeated the Reds in any UEFA competition.
Two English Premier League clubs, Tottenham Hotspurs and Manchester City will lurk horns in one of the quarter-final encounters. Both sides have never met in European competition. In their first meeting this season in the English Premier League, Manchester City defeated Spurs by a lone goal. The reverse domestic league fixture will hold on April 20 when both sides have already played both legs of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. It is going to be a keenly contested game. Both clubs have played 156 competitive games, where City have won 61 times while Spurs have won 60 times and they have had 35 draws. It will be recalled that it was an English side-Liverpool that eliminated Manchester City last season. The Reds eliminated the Citizens 5-1 on aggregate. Will this be another end of the road for the Citizens? Time will tell.
The last quarter-final pairing will see Manchester United take on Barcelona. It will be recalled that the Spaniards defeated the Red Devils in 2009 and 2011 finals. The only time both sides have met in a two-legged encounter was in the 1983/84 European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-finals. In that occasion, Manchester United overturned the 2-0 defeat they suffered in Spain with a 3-0 victory at Old Trafford. Both sides have met 11 times in UEFA competitions. Barcelona have won four times, United three times, while they have drawn four times.
The matches will take place between April 9/10 for the first leg and April 16/17 for the second leg. This season’s UEFA Champions League final will take place on Saturday, June 1 at the Estadio Metropolitano in Madrid, Spain.
By Delight Caesar
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