Bayern Munich v Paris Saint-Germain
Bayern Munich ended Wolfsburg’s four-year stranglehold on the German league title last season. The team’s route to the Champions League quarter-finals was straightforward, but a surprise 0-0 draw with Benfica prevented the German champions from topping Group D ahead of seven-time Champions League winners Lyon. Former Lyon midfielder Saki Kumagai helped the German side to a 1-0 home win against Lyon and the team’s only defeat of the group stage was a 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture. To reach this tie, PSG emerged from the weakest group in this season’s competition with six wins from six, 25 goals and 13 different goalscorers. Both teams have lived in the shadows of their domestic rivals in the Champions League, but last season PSG knocked out Lyon and Bayern reached the semi-finals while Wolfsburg exited at the quarter finals stage.
Verdict: Paris St-Germain
Real Madrid v Barcelona
The tie of the round on paper will probably be less exciting on the pitch. Champions League holders Barcelona are 19 points clear at the top of the Primera División, having scored 136 goals in 24 games without dropping a point. Their record in Europe this season is just as formidable, with 24 goals in six group games and just one conceded – that in a 4-1 home win over Arsenal. Real Madrid, meanwhile, are struggling domestically. Very much in their infancy, with the women’s team acquired in 2019 and rebranded from CD Tacón in 2020, Real sit fifth in the league, two points behind Granadilla Tenerife but with a game in hand over all the teams above. Barcelona have beaten Real each time the two teams have met; most recently the Ballon d’Or winner, Alexia Putellas, scored twice in a 5-0 win for the Catalans. Most exciting will be the attendance for the second leg at the sold-out Camp Nou, where Barcelona’s women’s team are playing for the first time.
Juventus v Lyon
Juve surprised in the group stage when they secured a 0-0 draw at Chelsea’s Kingsmeadow and took four points off Wolfsburg to secure second place in the group of death and earn progression at the expense of Emma Hayes’s side. Juventus had been flying in Serie A with a five-point lead over second-placed Roma, but have won only two of their last five games. Having previously failed to progress beyond the round of 32 in this competition, this is the Italian side’s best run in their short history. Up next, though, are seven-times champions Lyon. The Ligue 1 leaders are on a mission to reclaim multiple crowns after a rare trophyless season in 2020-21. The only blip the team suffered in Group D was a 1-0 away defeat to Bayern Munich. They are benefiting from the return of the competition’s all-time top scorer Ada Hegerberg, who had to sit out much of last season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Arsenal v Wolfsburg
Arsenal crept out of Group C in second place with a superior head-to-head goal difference over third-placed Hoffenheim. The Gunners suffered two bruising defeats to reigning champions Barcelona, 4-1 away and 4-0 at the Emirates, and staggered to the quarter-finals after a 4-1 loss to Hoffenheim. After back-to-back defeats in the delayed 2021 FA Cup final to Chelsea and then to Barcelona in December, Arsenal’s season looked to be unravelling with three defeats in their next four games. Since then, however, the ship has been steadied and reinforcements were pulled aboard in January. Wolfsburg are a tricky test though. They emerged from the group of death on top, based on head-to-head goal difference with both Chelsea and Juventus. The two-time Champions League winners know what it takes to progress in the latter stages, having reached the final in five of eight years in the competition, including finishing as runners-up to Lyon in the 2019-20 final. Arsenal certainly have a team capable of reaching the last four, but the experience of the German side could be decisive.
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