Chelsea vs. Manchester United: Man U are fighting on three fronts with an injury crisis. They did not want this. Chelsea are experienced, confident and can focus their efforts on Europe. United doesn’t need to travel far, but intensity will be ratcheted up to eleven. They play a six-match, 21 day stretch in April, including the home and home with Chelsea and an FA Cup semifinal against Man City. They follow that with back to back matches against Arsenal and Chelsea again in the league.
Inter Milan vs. Schalke: The Nerrazzuri received the easiest draw in the final eight. Schalke have had an abysmal Bundesliga season. Their European progress, against easy opponents, was not enough to help coach, Felix Magath, who just got fired. Inter are no longer defensively sound. They’re undisciplined, but as long as Leonardo keeps working his magic – which essentially is not being Rafa Benitez – they should coast into the semifinals.
Real Madrid vs. Tottenham: It will be a great European night for Spurs, but not so great for their advancement prospects. Real Madrid are robust, athletic and tactically disciplined. Jose Mourinho has extensive experience coaching in England and handling threats such as Bale and Peter Crouch. Unlike A.C. Milan, Madrid have the fortitude to absorb Tottenham’s attacks and the speed, skill and creativity to absolutely shred their feeble defense on the counter.
Barcelona vs. Shakhtar Donetsk: The Catalans got one of the easier draws, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. Shakhtar have been very impressive, with a squad loaded with talented Brazilians. They earned 15 points in the group stage. They dropped six goals on Roma, including three away in the Stadio Olimpico. Barcelona will be overwhelming favorites, as they would against any club, but if they are as wasteful as they were against Arsenal, Shakhtar can pick them off.
Clash of Titans: Barcelona and Real Madrid meet in a potentially decisive league match on April 17 and the Copa del Rey Final on April 20. If both clubs advance, the rivals will meet four times in less than a month.
[Photo via Getty]
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