Champions League quarter-finals draw
Manchester United’s already arduous season just got tougher.
The English champions were drawn yesterday to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals, pitting them against the defending champions and the favourites.
“I was thrilled that we were in the draw. In a lot of ways, it didn’t matter who we drew,” said Manchester United manager David Moyes, who has led United into the quarter-finals for the first time since reaching the 2011 final, “but we have pulled out the favourites.”
In the other quarter-final pairings, Real Madrid will face Borussia Dortmund in a rematch of last year’s semi-finals, Spanish clubs Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will meet for a spot in the next round, and Paris Saint-German (PSG) will take on 2012 champion Chelsea.
United and Barcelona will host the opening two matches on April 1, while Madrid and PSG are at home for their first legs on April 2. The return legs will be played on April 8-9.
Five-time champion Bayern will be looking to heap even more pressure on Moyes. United are a disappointing seventh in the Premier League and likely need to win the Champions League to qualify for next season’s competition.
“Perhaps they are not in the best form, but they are still a top team,” said Bayern winger Arjen Robben, who scored a late goal to eliminate United from the competition at the same stage four years ago. “It’s a good draw, we play away first.”
Bayern, meanwhile, are unbeaten in 50 Bundesliga games under coach Pep Guardiola and lead second-place Dortmund by 23 points.
Dortmund beat Madrid in the semi-finals last year before losing to Bayern in the final at Wembley Stadium. But Madrid are unbeaten in 31 games in all competitions, and Cristiano Ronaldo leads the Champions League with 13 goals this season.
Three Spanish clubs reached the quarter-finals and at least one is guaranteed to play in the semi-finals.
Although four-time champion Barcelona have excelled in the Champions League, the Spanish champions have had an irregular season at home and have yet to beat Atletico in three games – all draws.
For Chelsea, coach Jose Mourinho will need to come up with a strategy to stop Zlatan Ibrahimovic when the English leaders travel across the channel to face French champion PSG in the first leg.
Mourinho led Chelsea against PSG in the tournament’s group stage in 2004-05, when the Blues won 3-0 in Paris before a scoreless draw at home.