The last draw of the 2021-2022 edition of the UEFA Champions League will take place this Friday, with the Quarterfinals and also the following Semifinals being scheduled. Real Madrid will be there after their impressive, historic comeback win against Paris Saint-Germain last week. This is a quality draw, so it won’t be easy for Madrid to get lucky and avoid a tough opponent in the Quarterfinals.
Here are Real Madrid’s opponents in the next round of the Champions League, ranked, with the most “manageable” teams first:
- Benfica: The Portuguese side took care of Ajax in the Round of 16 when nobody expected them to succeed. That means that they are a dangerous side, and they proved it when they visited the Camp Nou in the Group Stage. However, it’s fairly clear that they will be the underdogs against every team in this draw, so Madrid fans will be happy if Los Blancos visit Lisbon in the Quarterfinals.
- Villarreal: Emery’s side clinched their presence in the Quarterfinals with an impressive 0-3 win at the Juventus Stadium last night. The Yellow Submarine have experienced, veteran players and a creative coach who knows how to play with a counterattacking style, something which could be effective in the Quarterfinals. Still, Madrid should consider themselves lucky if they draw them on Friday.
- Atletico de Madrid: Here’s where the draw gets tougher for Madrid. Atletico de Madrid belong on a different tier than Benfica and Villarreal and would definitely be tough to beat. Simeone’s side proved to be vulnerable during the first half of the season, but the coach has struck gold by playing Lodi in a more advanced position and Atleti have improved ever since. Should Real Madrid be considered the favorites to go through against their city neighbors? Probably so, but they should expect two very tough games.
- Bayern Munich: The German side probably deserve to be on a tier above Atletico as well. Their intensity and their physicality would be very, very hard to match for Real Madrid and Julian Nagelsmann is one of the most exciting coaches in European football. Needless to say, they also have Robert Lewandowski playing the best football of his career, so Bayern would probably be the favorites to advance to the Semifinals if they draw Real Madrid. Not that it matters much, as Los Blancos proved when they beat the odds and beat PSG. If there’s one vulnerable aspect of their team, it’s probably their defensive line.
- Liverpool: Klopp’s side might actually be a better team than Chelsea, but they are fighting for every single point they can earn in the Premier League and the German coach won’t have the chance to rotate much for the two legs of the Quarterfinals. Van Dijk is back and his merece presence has taken Liverpool to another level, but I believe Madrid don’t match up that terribly against them. Still, Ancelotti will probably need to play with another midfielder as the Casemiro-Kroos-Modric trio would struggle against Liverpool’s pace and intensity.
- Chelsea: The London-based club would offer a similar challenge than Liverpool, but they have pretty much secured their presence in the 2022-2023 edition of the Champions League via Premier League while they are also almost 10 points behind City and Liverpool in the race for the title. That means that the great Thomas Tuchel will have the time to plan for the two legs and also the chance to rotate and make sure that every single player is 100% ready to give his best. Chelsea would be dangerous no matter if Madrid decide to give them the possession of the ball or if Los Blancos try to dominate. Tuchel is versatile enough to change plans and the Blues have the tools to be a very dangerous opponent.
- Manchester City: It’s no secret that Pep Guardiola has the deepest squad in European football but he has not conquered the Champions League with Manchester City yet. This might be his season, though. De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Foden and Cancelo are enjoying the best form of their lives and Guardiola would have a very dangerous bench at his disposal. To me, they are the favorites to conquer this edition of the Champions League and it’s about time Guardiola finally succeeds and wins it after all the money the club has spent in recent years.