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Eight clubs still dreaming of Wembley
by Samuel Charles, March 28th, 2013 10:40PM

TAGS:  uefa champions league


[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] When the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League start on Tuesday, eight games over a nine-day period in five different countries will determine the four semifinalists still capable of raising the Champions League trophy on May 25 in London.

Paris Saint-Germain-Barcelona: “We can measure ourselves against one of the greatest sides of all time. Barcelona are red-hot favorites, but anything can happen,” said PSG director Leonardo.

PSG’s players celebrated drawing Barcelona, and had more reason to rejoice on Tuesday when Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s red card suspension was reduced, making him available for both legs against his former club. How crucial is the big Swede for PSG?

Ibrahimovic has 25 of the 53 Ligue 1 goals for France’s first-place team; Kevin Gameiro is second with five. In comparison, Lionel Messi has 42 of Barcelona’s 88 La Liga goals; David Villa is second with eight.

Bayern Munich-Juventus: Barcelona at PSG gets top billing on Tuesday, so with UEFA using simultaneous start times during the quarterfinals this battle of two elite teams owning the most domestic titles in German and Italian history takes a backseat -- and denies fans a chance to appreciate both.

You can’t imagine why anyone would prefer to devour every moment of Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon, Arturo Vidal, Giorgio Chiellini, Frank Ribery, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger all competing on one field, and then watch Barca in Paris. Can you?

Real Madrid-Galatasaray: Jose Mourinho visited Turkey to scout Galatasaray, reuniting with former favorites Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder as rumors swirl concerning the coach’s possible return to Chelsea.

Mourinho excels amid chaos, and after a long tumultuous season Madrid’s finally clicking, having just beaten Barcelona twice and eliminated Manchester United. With only three opponents between Madrid and a 10th European Cup, the egomaniacal coach with the Midas touch must have Europe's biggest trophy in his sight.

Cristiano Ronaldo has eight UCL goals, tied for tournament high with Gala’s outstanding forward Burak Yilmaz. Messi has seven.

Borussia Dortmund-Malaga: Dortmund impressed in dominating the group of death -- Juve is the only other team that hasn’t yet lost a game in this year’s tournament -- but Malaga’s Champions League debut has vastly exceeded expectations. This talented Spanish team that faces Madrid and Barca four times a year isn’t going to wilt at the sight of the Bundesliga champions.

Mario Goetze of Dortmund and Isco on Malaga are both key cogs in the German and Spanish national team futures, respectively. Still only 20, each possesses technical ability, vision and poise well beyond his years.

Current odds to win: Barca 3/2, Madrid 5/2, Bayern 4/1, Dortmund 7/1, Juventus 15/1, PSG 35/1, Malaga 60/1, Galatasaray 80/1.

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