The draw for the Quarter-Finals of the Champions League took place in Nyon today with two German teams among the eight balls being drawn. Luis Figo’s innocent hand resulted in mixed fortunes for Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund and it will be hard for both teams to be in the semi-finals like they were last season.
The first one to come out was Borussia Dortmund, who were drawn against Real Madrid. Of course, Dortmund fans and football fans in general will have the semi-final from last season against los blancos in their minds; the stunning 4-1 victory at the Signal Iduna Park followed by the nervy 2-0 defeat at the Santiago Bernabéu in the return leg, which allowed them to be in the final in London.
Of course, the circumstances are very different this year. Real Madrid are arguably much stronger and Dortmund are weaker. The star of the tie last season was Robert Lewandowski, with his four goals in the first leg being enough to see Jürgen Klopp’s side go through. However, Lewandowski hasn’t shone as much this season despite his 15 goals in the league and Dortmund’s current form suggest they won’t be going into the match playing at their best. On top of that, the Pole is banned for the first leg due to picking up his third yellow card in their 2-1 home defeat against Zenit St. Petersburg in the previous round. Adding to that the current injuries to Jakub Błaszczykowski, İlkay Gündoğan and Neven Subotić, Dortmund’s XI will be considerably hindered compared to that of last season.
Jürgen Klopp: That was a good draw. If you keep qualifying for the last 8 [in the Champions League], you have to expect that the same pairings will often happen – like it has in this case. They will be two games with a really great atmosphere. We are delighted with this challenge and we will be looking to seize the small chance we have. Playing first in Madrid can be an advantage. Now is definitely not the time to raise the white flag.
Hans-Joachim Watzke: We would have liked [to draw] someone different but we will take it as it is. We did already play Real Madrid four times last season but we are looking forward to it. Robert Lewandowski will be able to play in the return leg and if he scores four times, everything will be okay.
Michael Zorc: They will be two special days for our team and our fans. We will give our all to be in the semi-finals.
Emilio Butragueño (Real Madrid PR Director): There were stronger rivals out there but we must be cautious. Also, the return is in Dortmund and their stadium has a special magic about it due to their great fans. We will have to go to Dortmund with a very good result in the first leg.
Dortmund will also play their first match at the Santiago Bernabéu on April 2nd and the return leg at home on April 8th.
The other half of the draw was more favourable. Bayern München drew English champions Manchester United, although there is no doubt that their current form made them the most appetising team to draw out of the eight. When comparing Bayern’s form to that of the side managed by David Moyes, Bayern are clear favourites for the tie, even more so since they will be playing the return match at home.
Of course the tie brings back memories of that night in Barcelona in 1999, but the two sides have since met three times in the Champions League and the Bavarians have advanced in the two knockout ties out of the three (2001, 2009), the other time being two group stage matches in 2001/2002 (0-0 and 1-1 ).
The two teams could not be more apart in terms of form. Bayern are coasting in the league and dispensed Arsenal without too much trouble in the previous round, while United are struggling in 7th in the Premier League and beat Olympiakos 3-2 on aggregate in the previous round, overcoming a 2-0 deficit from the first leg. However, despite how good the result was, it does not mask the evident problems that David Moyes and his side are having and Bayern should be quite pleased with the draw.
The first match is to be played at Old Trafford on April 1st and the return at the Allianz Arena on April 9th.
Matthias Sammer: It is an extremely attractive draw against an opponent that is struggling for stability, both in the league and in the Champions League. Manchester United have shown that they are capable of doing great things. It is important that we treat them with respect, they can still play at the highest level on the day. We must do everything we can so that they don’t have two good days. It is a feasible draw but a dangerous one. They have plenty of individual class.
Philipp Lahm: We should not be fooled by Manchester United’s league position. We will travel to Manchester to attack and to score goals.
Thomas Müller: An interesting quarter-final match. Always happy to travel to the island. It will be a hard fight but we will make it. It was clear that there will only be difficult games in the quarter-finals. There was no match which I would have previously taken above the others. Manchester United managed to turn the tables against Olympiakos with a great performance. This shows that they still have the quality.
Dante: We must be ready from the first second. Robin van Persie is a world-class striker but we must not fear them. We are ready.
John Alexander (Manchester United Secretary): It’s an exciting tie. Bayern are a fantastic side, but we have to take heart from our performance the other rnight against Olympiakos. Our staff are very thorough and will have done their homework and will be prepared for Bayern. If we can keep them quiet in the first leg and get an advantage then we’re more than capable of stealing an away goal