Holders Real Madrid will have to overcome city rivals Atletico in the Champions League quarter-finals, in a repeat of last year’s final, while Barcelona face familiar opponents in Paris Saint-Germain after the draw made Friday in Nyon.
Portuguese giants Porto host Bayern Munich of Germany in the first leg of their last eight matchup while Italian champions Juventus welcome the Monaco side who knocked out English side Arsenal in midweek.
Sergio Ramos equalised in the dying minutes in Lisbon last year to send the final to extra-time before Real prevailed 4-1 over Diego Simeone’s Atletico for their 10th European crown.
Real’s legendary striker and current director of institutional relations at the club Emilio Butragueno thinks the tie is finely poised.
“Atletico are a competitive side and we have faced each other a lot this season and know each other well,” said the Spaniard in reference to the six matches the two clubs have played with Real yet to register a victory since last year’s final.
“The Champions League is a different competition altogether. You never know if it’s an advantage playing the second leg at home,” said Butragueno.
“We have to be at our best because we know exactly the difficulties that we’re going to face. We need to be right on it if we want to go through.”
Atletico are the Spanish champions and currently third in La Liga with Real seven points above them in second and Barcelona top of the league and one point above Carlo Ancelotti’s glamour side led by Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Football doesn’t have a memory. It would be a big error to think about the recent results we have had against Real Madrid,” warned Atletico director Clemente Villaverde.
– PSG challenge ‘old foes’ Barca –
Barcelona and PSG met in the group stages with both teams winning their respective home ties while they also met in the 2013 quarter-finals when the Spaniards prevailed on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate draw.
The French champions will be without suspended star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the first leg after the Swede was given a one-match ban following his sending off in the last-16 victory over Chelsea.
Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre knows the two sides are familiar foes.
“PSG are old foes for us and we met them in the group phase. They’re a great team who have reinforced their squad significantly and we’re going to have to fight for the victory,” he explained.
“In the quarter-finals, all the teams are strong and PSG are a strong team, very strong and it’s going to be difficult for us.”
Barca, who overcame Manchester City 3-1 on aggregate, are on track for a treble of Liga, Copa del Rey and the Champions League trophies as their high-flying side ride on the crest of a streak that has seen them win 17 of their last 18 matches.
Porto won the first of their two European Cups in 1987 when they defeated Bayern, their quarter-final opponents, in Vienna.
Bayern’s international goalkeeper Manuel Neuer expects a great atmosphere for the first leg in Portugal.
“The atmosphere in Porto is very heated. I witnessed the Porto fans during the 2004 Champions League final against Monaco,” said Neuer.
“With these fans it won’t be easy for us, but we have played in many different stadiums with varying atmospheres and we will know what to expect,” added the World Cup winner.
Finally Serie A leaders Juventus, who won the competition in 1985 and 1996, take on 2004 finalists Monaco with the first leg scheduled for Turin.
Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim expects a tough matchup. “Juventus are among the biggest sides. They are the favourites. We’re lucky to have the second leg at home. We’ll try to make the most of this quarter-final.”
Juventus sporting director Pavel Nedved added: “You don’t just get to this stage of the Champions Leagueby chance.
“Monaco put in two great performances against Arsenal and particularly impressed me at the Emirates. They’re better on the road than at home, so we’ll need to be extremely alert.”
First leg matches are scheduled for April 14/15 with the return legs on April 21/22, and the final in Berlin on June 6. – Agence France-Presse