As the European competitions reach the Quarter Final stages, Anthony Kendrick takes a look at some of the key matchups.
The Champions League and Europa League draws were both carried out today with some intrigue. All the talk in the build-up was about who Leicester would get, and the fact that there are fewer English sides in the competitions compared to previous years.
Leicester have been drawn against Atletico Madrid, and for me this is not the best draw for them. Had they got one of the big three, then it would have had that glamour about it, and personally I would have loved to have seen how Barcelona would have dealt with Leicester. Also, if they had faced one of the attacking sides in Borussia Dortmund or Monaco I would have fancied their chances more highly.
The issue with Leicester facing Atletico Madrid is that their playing style will make it very difficult for Leicester to get the breakthrough. Atletico love to defend and will happily defend very deep to prevent Jamie Vardy from getting in behind and prevent the counter attack. Having said that, Atletico Madrid are not the same side as they were a couple of years ago. Yes, it can be argued that the personnel is the same but they are out of the La Liga title race and in a fight for the top four. There is the sense that Diego Simeone is at the beginning of the end of his stay.
A shout out must also be made for Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid. Carlo Ancelotti is held in high regard by many at Real and rightly so, but no manager gets a long stay at the Bernabeu. At Bayern, after an average start to the season, they have found better form. Real Madrid on the other hand, continued their incredible form from last season but have had a few stutters recently which saw them overtaken at the top of La Liga. It is the tie of the round, but I have said previously that I think Real Madrid will be the first side to win the Champions League back-to-back and I stand by that prediction, so I am backing them to progress.
In the Europa League, the sole English representative is Manchester United who face Anderlecht. It is a tie they should win, but whether we get to see any exciting football along the way is probably the bigger question. I was at the game against Rostov and the atmosphere was poor, partly caused by the lack of away fans but also because of the general lacklustre performance. The fact is that United won the game, and it will be a big shock if they do not win the competition. They have got very lucky with the likes of Roma and Tottenham being knocked out of the competition earlier on and with Sevilla being in the Champions League. Nevertheless, it will be a major shock if Anderlecht qualify.
On another note, what if Manchester United and Leicester both win the European competitions and finish outside of the top four? The rules are that five teams can compete in the Champions League from one country, with both Europa League and Champions League winners getting an automatic spot. They would be joined by the top three in the Premier League, with fourth place playing in the Europa League, similar to the fate of Tottenham and Everton in previous seasons.
Written by Anthony Kendrick
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