Three Spanish sides are in Champions League quarter-finals action this week with Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Villarreal all hoping to take a big step towards the semi-finals.
Atletico Madrid are first into action as they travel to play Premier League leaders Manchester City in what promises to be a contrast in styles between Atletico’s compact defensive football and the flowing possession game played by Pep Guardiola’s men.
Atletico return to Manchester after knocking Manchester United out of the previous round, although City are currently in much better form than their local rivals, but Simeone’s men will be confident after progressing into the quarter-finals and with a 4-1 win at home to Alaves on Saturday extending their domestic winning run to six games.
Joao Felix has been vital in that run and the feeling is that the Portuguese forward is finally producing the form that tempted the club to pay over 120 million euros for him almost three years ago.
Ruben Dias is still out for City, but John Stones should be available to partner with Aymeric Laporte in defense, while in attack Guardiola’s men boast talents such as Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Kevin de Bruyne.
Real Madrid visit Chelsea on Wednesday in a repeat of last season’s semi-final, in which Chelsea won 3-1 on aggregate, reports Xinhua.
It’s still not certain whether Carlo Ancelotti will be able to travel with his side after testing positive for Covid-19 last week, but he will have Ferland Mendy and Karim Benzema available after they returned from injury against Celta Vigo at the weekend.
Real Madrid produced an incredible fightback to knock Paris Saint Germain out of the last round after the French side had dominated for 135 minutes and led 2-0 on aggregate and that spirit is something Chelsea will have to beware of.
Villarreal have a tough draw and Unai Emery’s side play their first leg at home to Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
The side from the east coast of Spain was magnificent in knocking Juventus out of the last round, but have an even tougher task ahead of them. Perhaps they were guilty of thinking about Bayern when they lost to Levante on Saturday, but a side with the attacking talents of Yeremi Pino, Gerard Moreno and Arnaut Danjuma has to be taken seriously — even by Bayern.