The first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals are intriguing but the one which appeals to me the most is the all-Spanish affair.
Here we have what I think is the very best team in the world in Barcelona, coming up against a very aggressive and well-structured team in Atletico Madrid that really knows how to defend with a purpose and worry teams out of a result.
I think this will be a fascinating contest and one I think is a must to watch. Luis Enrique and Diego Simeone boast two very contrasting managerial styles. Can’t wait for this one.
Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid
I’ve said for some time now that I think Barcelona will become the first team since Milan in 1988-89/89-90 to win back-to-back Champions League titles. They are clearly the best in the world for me. People tend to get stuck on Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi but the truth of the matter is defensively, this team really plays to its strengths.
KEY BATTLE: Neymar vs Filipe Luis
Luis has been ever present for Atletico this season and very aggressive in the tackle.
Neymar, who can float in and out of games is a real handful.
Neymar will win this battle by getting on the scoresheet.
Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Unibet Odds: 9.00
Bayern Munich vs Benfica
Bayern Munich have too many guns for Benfica.
Starting from the back and filtering right through the side in central and wide areas, Bayern are so impressive.
They’ve got players with years of experience at the highest level including Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal to name a few.
It’s vital for Bayern to keep Benfica striker Jonas Goncalves quiet. His goal scoring record speaks for itself.
But I keep looking through the list of both players and feel that Bayern have too many guys that can affect the game whereas Benfica rely heavily on Goncalves and Konstantinos Mitroglou for goals.
KEY BATTLE: Jonas Goncalves vs David Alaba
For Benfica to have a chance with progressing, they’ll need their main striker to be clinical.
Bayern will have control of this game which for me makes the job more achievable for Alaba keeping the Benfica strike force quiet.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 3-1 Unibet Odds: 12.50
PSG vs Manchester City
It would be a great story for Manchester City to go all the way with Pellegrini finishing up this season but I don’t see it happening.
They’ve got fantastic players going forward but have had real issues defensively and at this stage of the tournament, you get no forgiveness with poor defending.
The feeling I have with this one is when there’s a goal, there may well be a quick follow-up when concentration is down.
I feel goals in this one, with so many really good attacking players.
KEY BATTLE: Zlatan Ibrahimovic v Martin Demichelis
Ibrahimovic is a sublime attacker while Demichelis is a no nonsense marking kind of defender.
Really tough to call but I think Demichelis will be more nervous of what Ibrahimovic can do than the other way around. Ibrahimovic to shade this one.
Prediction: PSG 2-0 Unibet Odds: 8.50
Wolfsburg vs Real Madrid
It’s not a forgone conclusion that Real Madrid runs away with this.
On paper it certainly does look like a mismatch but this is very much a potential banana skin for Real Madrid.
Everyone will expect them to go through but Wolfsburg at home first may take this tie.
KEY BATTLE: Luka Modric v Luiz Gustavo
For Wolfsburg to have any chance, the protection Gustavo will have to give his defence plus the ability to stop Real Madrid controlling the game is the key battle for me.
If he can achieve this, Wolfsburg may be in this tie for a long time.
Prediction: Real Madrid 3-1 Unibet Odds: 12.50