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Eight in chase for European football's holy grail

Published: Wednesday 27 March 2013, 15.00CET
With eight sides still standing in the quest to reach the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley Stadium, we look forward to next week's quarter-final first legs.
Eight in chase for European football's holy grail
Dortmund will hope to be celebrating again after their tie with Málaga ©Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 27 March 2013, 15.00CET

Eight in chase for European football's holy grail

With eight sides still standing in the quest to reach the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley Stadium, we look forward to next week's quarter-final first legs.

After digesting the drama of the round of 16, the remaining eight clubs and their fans must prepare to ride another emotional roller coaster, with the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals kicking off on Tuesday.

Inevitably, the likes of Real Madrid CF, aiming for a record 24th semi-final appearance, FC Barcelona, targeting a sixth straight final-four berth, and FC Bayern München, last season's runners-up, will be hotly tipped. However, with debutants Málaga CF as well as Galatasaray AŞ and Paris Saint-Germain FC – with just two semi-finals between them – making waves, the potential challenge to the tournament perennials should make for four intriguing ties.

Paris Saint-Germain FC v FC Barcelona
PSG will hope lightning strikes twice when they take on Barcelona, having prevailed against the same opposition in their sole previous UEFA Champions League quarter-final. Their run to the semi-finals in 1994/95 was the French club's best showing, but they have a long way to go to match the record of Barça, for whom victory would secure a sixth consecutive semi-final.

Something will have to give in the Parc des Princes as the hosts' 23-game unbeaten streak at home in Europe receives the ultimate test from a side who have not lost the away leg of a quarter-final since defeat at Panathinaikos FC in 2001/02. However, their usually serene away form has been missing at times this season. With the Azulgrana having lost two of their four matches on their travels this term, at Celtic FC and AC Milan, Carlo Ancelotti's men will attempt to inflict a further defeat on Barcelona – and, over the week, knock out a second successive Spanish team after Valencia CF in the last 16.

FC Bayern München v Juventus
Antonio Conte's Juventus have history in their favour as they head to Germany to assume the daunting task of preventing Bayern reaching a third semi-final in four years. The Bianconeri boast a perfect record at this stage against German clubs, having triumphed in all five such European quarter-finals; they have also won their past eight two-legged ties against Bundesliga opposition. With both sides holding a comfortable cushion at the top of their domestic leagues, focus can turn solely to the battle for a semi-final slot, with Bayern the more familiar campaigner of late.

The Serie A outfit were last in the quarter-finals in 2006, whereas Bayern are making their fourth last-eight appearance in five seasons. Nonetheless Juventus have not lost on the road on the continent since 18 March 2010, so will be confident of getting a result to defend in Turin. However, it was Bayern who emerged unscathed the last time the teams met, following up a 0-0 draw with a 4-1 win in Italy during the 2009/10 group stage.

Málaga CF v Borussia Dortmund
Joining the field as champions of Germany, Jürgen Klopp's Dortmund were not without their backers, despite a daunting-looking group featuring Madrid, Manchester City FC and AFC Ajax. In contrast, few could have predicted the progress of the Spanish debutants who, with Manuel Pellegrini in charge, may yet repeat the feat of the Chilean's Villarreal CF side who went all the way to the semis in their maiden season of 2005/06.

Málaga are hardly in peak form, failing to win in their last four Liga outings, but are undefeated at La Rosaleda in the UEFA Champions League – their 2-0 success against FC Porto on 13 March sealing their passage to the quarters. Dortmund, meanwhile, remain unbeaten in this term's competition, though they have won just one of their four away matches, which include a 2-2 draw with Madrid where they were frustrated by Mesut Özil's 89th-minute equaliser.

Málaga duo Martín Demichelis and Roque Santa Cruz will be keen to do well against an old rival. As former Bayern players, both won more times than they lost versus the Schwarzgelben.

Real Madrid CF v Galatasaray AŞ
Taking on Madrid 12 years to the day since they faced the same opposition on their last quarter-final appearance, Galatasaray will hope this is their moment to get to the last four for a second time. On 3 April 2001, Cimbom came from behind to beat the Merengues 3-2 in Istanbul, only to fall 3-0 in the second leg. Yet having posted successive away victories against CFR 1907 Cluj, SC Braga and FC Schalke 04 this campaign, they will be optimistic of taking something from Wednesday's Spanish jaunt.

However, Madrid's daunting home record should instil faith among their fans – having won 13, and lost one, of 16 European fixtures at the Santiago Bernabéu since coach José Mourinho's appointment. The Portuguese has a 100% success rate in this round of the tournament, from six previous attempts, though that statistic will be under threat from a team spearheaded by Didier Drogba, the forward he signed for Chelsea FC in 2004 and with whom he won two Premier League titles.

Last updated: 24/04/13 17.05CET

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