These are very important points football fans should know as Real Madrid set to take on Juventus while Sevilla battle Bayern Munich.
The most prestigious football club competition, UEFA Champions League (UCL) returns tonight as European heavyweights set to compete for a place in the Semi-final. As we look forward to the games, here are five crucial points you should know.
The first batch of the quarter-final games promise some interesting match-ups as Serie A and last season finalist Juventus will be standing in the way of the treble-chasers and defending champions Real Madrid while German giants, Bayern Munich have a tricky tie to negotiate against Spanish underdogs, Sevilla.
Here are five crucial points to note as we look forward to the mouthwatering actions:
Juventus favourite to go through
As unbelievable as this might sound, the Bianconerri look prime to win this tie after 180-minutes if previous records are anything to go by. Real Madrid have inflicted painful defeats on Juventus in their 19 past meetings in the UCL, the most recent being their 4-1 victory in last season’s final in Cardiff.
However, Juventus have knocked out the Spanish giants in the Champions League more than any other team has in the past 22 years. At the same stage in 1995-1996 season, Juventus progressed to the Semi-final of the competition at the expense of Real Madrid following a 2-1 aggregate win.
Also in 2002-2003, Real Madrid, having won the trophy the previous season, suffered another knockout defeat at the hands of Juventus in the semi-final with the final scoreline standing at 4-3 on aggregate. Fast forward to 2004-2005 season, Juventus bundled out Real in the Round of 16 with a 2-1 scoreline after the two legs.
Lastly in 2014-2015 season, Juventus prevented Real Madrid yet again from defending their title as the Bianconerri ran out 3-2 winners.
It must be noted though, that Real Madrid have denied the Italians the pleasure of grabbing the most coveted trophy twice in the same period under review. First was the 1997-1998 1-0 victory which had the current Real Madid coach Zinedine Zidane playing for Juventus at the time while the second was the last year victory in Cardiff.
But with four consecutive knock-out stage victories to Juve’s name, it’s only fair to count them as the favorite for this tie.
Ronaldo is Buffon’s biggest nightmare
Cristiano Ronaldo found the back of the net twice against Buffon the last time the two went head-to-head, and since then, the Portuguese goal machine has been giving the veteran Italian goalkeeper sleepless nights.
“When you play against a team like Real Madrid, taking one player away won’t make a huge amount of difference. Having said that, knowing I’ll face Cristiano Ronaldo will give me a few sleepless nights,” said the 40-year-old Buffon.
Ronaldo has scored in every single one of his games against Juventus with seven goals in five appearances.
“He is also lethal, everything he does is at 100 percent and in front of the goal he is an assassin,” Buffon concluded.
Sevilla have a date with destiny
Having stunned the whole of Europe by dumping out Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United in the round of 16, the Andalusians have already announced themselves as the surprise package of this season’s Champions League and are looking forward to go a step further by eliminating Bayern Munich.
Since the former AC Milan manager, Vincenzo Montella, took over the reins in January of 2018, Sevilla have recorded a couple of enviable results not only in the UCL but also on the domestic front. The Spanish side surprisingly knocked out ‘almighty’ Atletcio Madrid in the quarter final of the Kings Cup before proceeding to the final after beating a stubborn Leganes side who eliminated Real Madrid in the quarter final.
Another interesting point is that, Sevilla have only lost one out of their last 14 European games at home, this streak has seen the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United left the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium without a win.
With their famous 2-1 victory at Old Trafford in the previous round, against Bayern Munich, Sevilla will be out to prove once again that they are capable of pulling more than two surprises.
Bayern Munich at risk of another Spain heartbreak
Arguably the easiest game to predict on paper, The Bavarians are undoubtedly the favourite to progress at the expense of Sevilla but there could be a surprise on the card.
In the last four seasons, Bayern have been eliminated in the Champions League by three different Spanish teams. The run started in 2014 when Real Madrid handed them a 5-0 thumping in the semi-final to progress to the final.
The trend continued the following year, at the same stage, as Barcelona won 5-2 on aggregate to send Bayern packing from the competition. Atletico Madrid also towed the path laid by their local rivals by knocking out The Bavarians right in front of their home fans on away goals after the game had ended in a two-all draw.
Real Madrid maintained the ‘tradition’ last season when they knocked out the Munich side in a feisty quarter-final tie that ended 6-3 on aggregate. Faced with another Spanish test in Sevilla, the FC Hollywood will have to approach this tie with a good measure of caution if they wish to discontinue the sad trend.
Reunion both on and off the pitch
When the two European giants – Juventus and Real – trade tackles tonight, friendship will take the backstage but before and after the main battle, you can expect to see some old pals exchanging pleasantries.
Madrid coach, Zidane is going back to his old stumping ground where he made a name for himself as a player winning a couple of Serie A titles and two UCL final appearances for Juventus before joining the Spanish side. The likes of Sami Khedra and Gonzalo Higuain will also have the pleasure of meeting their old teammates during their days at Real Madrid.