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20th Mar 2014

JOE ranks the eight teams still in the hunt for Champions League glory

We look at the quarter-finalists for this season's Champions League to see who has the best chance of glory in Lisbon on May 24th.

Eric Lalor

We look at the quarter-finalists for this season’s Champions League to see who has the best chance of glory in Lisbon on May 24th.

Oddly enough, all eight teams are the winners of their respective qualifying groups. We’ll rank them in reverse order because that’s the done thing.

8. Manchester United

The Old Trafford club probably had their best night of the season last night as they overturned the two goal deficit to Olympiacos (pic below) to get through to the last eight thanks to a hat-trick from Robin Van Persie. David Moyes has had to endure a media storm around his future and the result last night will have bought him some time. Even the most ardent United fans will know that Olympiacos are not up there with the power houses of European football and will watch tomorrow’s draw with a lot of trepidation. They’ve had a very poor season and we simply cannot see any justification to argue with their odds of being rank outsiders for the Champions League trophy.

Manchester United v Olympiacos FC - UEFA Champions League Round of 16

7. Borussia Dortmund

Last year’s beaten finalists are back again following a minor scare in the return leg against Zenit St Petersburg. They are not in the form they were in last year when they pushed Bayern all the way in a terrific final at Wembley. Jurgen Klopp will enjoy being ranked as an outsider and will relish the chance to turn over the form book. The Bayern bound Lewandowski is still their biggest threat. Dortmund and United would be happy to get each other in the draw.

6. Atletico Madrid

The Madrid club led by Diego Simeone have won many admirers this season with their free flowing football. The men from the Vincente Calderon stadium will not be afraid of anyone and are having a brilliant season under the stewardship of the Argentinian. They lie second in La Liga, only three points behind bitter rivals Real and a point ahead of Barcelona. With Diego Costa (pic below) in the form of his life, nobody will fancy getting Los Rojiblancos in tomorrow’s draw.

Club Atletico de Madrid v RCD Espanyol - La Liga

5. Paris Saint-Germain

One of the new financial powerhouses of European football, their progress has been steady this season. The Paris club know with their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they have a player capable of hurting any team. They have quality throughout the squad with the likes of Cavani, Lucas Moura, Pastore, Thiago Silva and Cabaye. They are a strong team, but we think this season will be too soon for them to launch a proper assault on winning the trophy.

4. Chelsea

Jose Mourinho (pic below) is back at Stamford Bridge and has already made waves with the London club. Challenging domestically for the Premier League title, Chelsea are a very experienced squad with a lot of quality who will not be phased by anyone in tomorrow’s draw. With Mourinho’s tactical nous and players such as Hazard and Oscar, Chelsea will be a team most clubs will want to avoid tomorrow.

Chelsea Training Session & Press Conference

3. Barcelona

It might seem crazy to suggest that the Catalan giants are outside the top two in our tips for the tournament, but the fact is they are not the force they were a couple of years ago. In Lionel Messi they have arguably the best player of all time, but he cannot do it all on his own. They could go on and win the tournament and not many would be surprised, but it’s a big ask considering how well the top two teams are playing. They are conceding goals this season and the manager Gerardo Martino is being criticised for some poor results in the league. Nobody will fancy Barca in the draw, but we don’t think they will win the tournament outright.

2. Bayern Munich

The defending European champions (pic below) are sweeping all before them both home and abroad this season and under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, they look even stronger again this year. They are a well oiled machine and have incredible strength in depth with a squad just brimming with quality. Players such as Robben, Kroos, Ribery, Schweinsteiger and Neuer will strike fear into the hearts of any opposing teams. It’s incredibly hard to retain the Champions League and you have to go back to 1990 to find the last team to do it, AC Milan. That is the only reason for us not plumping for the Bavarian giants, but it wouldn’t surprise us in the slightest if they were to be victorious in Lisbon come May 24th.

Borussia Dortmund v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Final

1. Real Madrid

Top of the Spanish league, unbeaten in all competitions for 31 matches and with manager Carlo Ancelotti overseeing things this season in the Bernabeu, the Madrid club look to be the team to beat this year. They have a front three that, at the moment, are unplayable. Karim Benzema has often been criticised for his lacklustre displays in the famous white shirt, but he is like a player reborn this season, playing the best football of his life. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale (both pic below) complete an attacking trio which is simply frightening.

Ronaldo keeps breaking records and newly anointed Best Player in the World is a joy to behold. Bale, signed from Spurs, took a little while to settle in Spain having had some niggling injuries, but he’s over them and is playing the sort of football which justifies his enormous price tag. With this trio in form, Real Madrid are our team to beat in this year’s Champions League.

Real Madrid CF v FC Schalke 04 - UEFA Champions League Round of 16