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Full-Time Focus: Champions League down to eight teams

The Champions League quarter finals draw took place last Friday and left spectators with some interesting matchups, but it’s no surprise that all of the knockout stage games are compelling. At the end of the day, it is a competition between the best of the best. 

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

The draw featured all eight teams that made it past the round of 16. Thanks to the new conditions implemented since the 2018-2019 season, any team is able to face the seven remaining teams in the draw. Teams from the same country and teams that already met in the group stages can face each other moving forward in the competition.

Here are the two match-ups that fans should pay the most attention to. 

The first two teams to be taken out of the pot were Arsenal and Bayern Munich. Last time the Gunners faced the Germans in 2017, they conceded a total of 10 goals. A lot of things have changed since then. This could arguably be considered the best match-up of the competition today.

Under Mikel Arteta’s command, Arsenal has become a serious contender for the Premier League in the last two years. Their emphasis on possession style play and their strong midfield makes them a tactical machine. Their main advantage comes from their midfield powered by Martin Odegaard and Declan Rice. If Bayern wants to dominate Arsenal, they must first dominate the midfield. 

What makes this game so dramatic are all the different narratives surrounding it. One of the biggest protagonists is Harry Kane. 

This could potentially be a legacy game for Kane. He can easily be considered one of the best strikers of our generation and has proven himself to be a big-game player, especially during the round-of-16 against Lazio. However, Kane lacks quickness. His duel against Arsenal’s Saliba and Gabriel will test him greatly. 

The main question this game brings up is: Can Arsenal, a team known to perform in European competitions, defeat powerhouse Bayern Munich?

The other spotlight falls in the Real Madrid-Manchester City clash. 

This game almost feels like a premature final. City claimed the title of champions last season, while Madrid were the winners the year before that.

Last year, Manchester humiliated Madrid in the second leg of the semi-finals. The Madridistas lost 4-0 at the Etihad and got sent home by Guardiola’s team. 

From then on, City went on to win the treble and situated themselves as one of the most powerful squads in modern football history.

In terms of squads, not many things have changed for City from last season. Haaland still leads the team apart from some rotations due to injuries or tactical reasons. Guardiola’s starting eleven is not that full of surprises. 

Real Madrid did not technically make that many changes from last season. However, Jude Bellingham’s incorporation into the team has been tremendously beneficial for Los Blancos. Not only is he the team’s top scorer even as a midfielder, but his playmaking ability has allowed Vinícius Júnior to bring out his most positive qualities. 

Bellingham’s presence has also instigated a shift in attitude for the team. Real Madrid is known for their success in European competitions.

This matchup poses a second chance for Madrid to cement themselves as the most feared team in Champions. On the other hand, if Man City is able to eliminate the Spaniards for the second year in a row, it might signal a shift in power.

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