- The Champions League quarterfinals are set, with the eight remaining teams now knowing their competition for the next round.
- The quarterfinals offer some compelling pairings, but the best matches could be saved for the final depending on how the competition plays out.
- Ronaldo vs. Messi, Tottenham vs. Liverpool, and a Manchester Derby are all potential finals depending on which teams move through to the semifinal.
The Champions League quarterfinals are officially set.
After Friday's draw, football fans finally can visualize how the competition will play out, with the bracket and schedule set leading to the final in Madrid on June 1.
The quarterfinals offer four compelling pairings, but the juiciest matchups can be found in the final, and with a few bitter rivals currently on opposite sides of the bracket, things could shake out to set up an unforgettable match.
Take a look below as we break down the Champions League quarterfinal draw.
Here's the draw for the final eight teams remaining in Champions League:
The quarterfinal pairings are as follows:
Manchester City vs. Tottenham
Juventus vs. Ajax
Barcelona vs. Manchester United
Liverpool vs. Porto
The 2-leg quarterfinals will begin on April 9-10 and conclude the next week on April 16-17.
According to FiveThirtyEight's SPI, Manchester City, Liverpool, Barcelona, and Juventus are the favorites to advance to the semifinals.
Liverpool is the heaviest favorite to advance out of the quarterfinal over Porto, while the numbers say the most unpredictable pairing is between Juventus and Ajax, giving the slight edge to Cristiano Ronaldo and company.
As things stand, the bracket already offers some amazing football. In the quarterfinals, the most compelling matchup pits Tottenham against Man City.
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
Tottenham and Manchester City will play three times in less than two weeks, with a Premier League match set in between the two legs of their Champions League tie.
Through much of the Premier League season, it looked as though Spurs would challenge City and Liverpool atop the standings, but after a rough few weeks, Tottenham has fallen off the top of the table. Will Spurs be able to bounce back to spoil City after a disappointing stretch?
Juventus vs. Ajax should also provide some fantastic soccer.
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Juventus was saved from the brink of elimination in the round of 16 thanks to a spectacular hat trick from Ronaldo. The Italian club paid top dollar to bring Ronaldo to the team last year with the express goal of winning Champions League, and anything less will likely be deemed a failure.
Meanwhile, Ajax just finished off an absolute dismantling of Real Madrid over two legs, knocking out the now Ronaldo-less back-to-back-to-back Champions League winners with a beautiful stretch of football.
Ajax defeating Ronaldo's old and new clubs in a month would be quite an accomplishment.
Potential semifinal pairings also offer football fans plenty to fantasize about.
While anything is possible in Champions League play, football fans without a direct rooting interest in the remaining eight teams would likely love to see the four favorites advance through to the semifinal.
Pitting Man City against Juventus and Barcelona against Liverpool, the Champions League semifinal would be a great showcase for four teams that are inarguably among the absolute best on the planet.
But the best potential matches will be made in the final.
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The Champions League draw played out in a way that set up some dream matches that could take place in the final, any of which would feel almost too good to be true.
Dream final 1: Barcelona vs. Juventus
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The football world is now about a decade into the debate of Ronaldo vs. Messi, and there still isn't a clear consensus winner.
Ronaldo has undoubtedly been the better man of late, especially when it comes to Champions League, having won the past three competitions, but Messi's Barcelona has stumped Ronaldo plenty of times in the years of the two superstars' mutual orbits.
With both players now likely near the end of their days as the most unstoppable forces in football, seeing one more all-or-nothing match between the two would be an unforgettable 90 minutes.
Dream final 2: Man City vs. Man United
These bitter rivals hate each other so much that they were forced to put their Champions League home games a week apart to ensure opposing fans kept the relative peace.
A Manchester Derby in the Champions League final would be an ending no football fan could resist.
Dream final 3: Tottenham vs. Liverpool
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Tottenham and Liverpool aren't historical rivals but have developed a healthy hatred for each other after circling each other near the top of the Premier League table.
Both clubs share the disappointing distinction of being consistently good but never great, with a knack for making it far into competitions but lacking any hardware of note in recent decades.
For either club, a Champions League trophy would be the culmination of years of angst and frustration, a release of all the emotions sport is meant to evoke in fans, players, and coaches alike. To see that glory come to one of these clubs at the expense of the other would be unfathomable.
Regardless of who ends up in the final, we're in for quite a wild ride.
AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
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