Kroos refusing to underestimate Man United

The midfielder has warned his team-mates to be wary of a revival from the Old Trafford club after being paired with the Premier League champions in Friday’s Champions League draw

Toni Kroos has urged Bayern Munich not to judge Manchester United by their current position in the Premier League table.

Pep Guardiola’s side will face the reigning English champions in the quarter-finals of the Champions League following Friday’s draw in Nyon, with the Bavarians sure to be favourites ahead of the tie.

United have endured a torrid campaign to date in David Moyes’s first campaign in charge since taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson. They sit seventh in the league, while they required a stirring comeback to defeat Olympiakos 3-0 (Agg 3-2) to reach the last eight in Europe.

In contrast, Champions League holders Bayern have made a seamless transition to life after Jupp Heynckes and Guardiola’s men could lift the Bundesliga title as early as this weekend if they win and other results go in their favour.

But Kroos – who has been regularly linked with a move to Old Trafford this summer – with his contract set to expire in the summer of 2014 – will not be taking the tie lightly.

He said on his official Facebook page: “A very interesting draw for us! We shouldn’t measure Man U by their current position in the English table.”

Bayern and United have considerable history when it comes to the Champions League, with United defeating the Bundesliga champions 2-1 in the famous 1999 final.

However, it was the Bavarians who came out on top in the most recent encounter between the two sides after a 4-4 aggregate draw in the 2010 quarter-finals, with FCB going through on away goals.

The first leg of the last eight tie will be played one April 1 or 2, with the return leg scheduled for April 8 or 9.

United tie a 'great draw', says Bayern Munich ace Robben

The Dutchman was in bullish mood after the reigning European champions were drawn against the struggling Red Devils – but says David Moyes’ men remain a “very good team”

Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben believes being paired with Manchester United in the Champions League quarter-finals represents a “great draw” for the holders.

The runaway Bundesliga leaders visit Old Trafford in the first leg on April 1 before the return at the Allianz Arena a week later.

Robben, who scored the winner in last season’s final victory over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley, was in a confident mood after learning of Bayern’s next assignment.

“It is a great draw,” he told Sky Sports News. “I look forward to these matches.

“We play away from home in the first leg. That is an advantage. 

“Manchester is not in the best shape. But it still is a very good team.”

Bayern skipper Philipp Lahm was more circumspect and insisted they will not be fooled by United’s domestic struggles when they face David Moyes’ side.

United are languishing in seventh place in the Premier League in what has been a difficult season but Lahm is still expecting a tough tie. 

The Germany full-back said: “We should not be blinded by the standings in England. We have to perform well in both matches. Then we’ll have a good chance to progress to the semi-finals.

“We are the holders and we are the favorites in these kind of matches.”

The best against the worst – Pep and Bayern will quench United flames of recovery

The Champions League quarter-finals draw threw up some interesting clashes, chief among them the Premier League champions’ near-impossible task against the titleholders

COMMENT
By Peter Staunton

As the balls were drawn in Nyon, the sense of foreboding was palpable.  The hypothetical nightmare draw for Manchester United in the Champions League quarter-finals was Bayern Munich. It has come to pass.

The Olympiakos victory stoked the fires of recovery for David Moyes and his beleaguered players but here comes Pep Guardiola to throw a big bucket of water over that.

Bayern are the strongest team in the competition and will lift the Bundesliga title before they lace up their boots at Old Trafford. United, on current form, are the weakest side left in the Champions League.

Bayern, despite the presence of a new coach, have serenely negotiated their way to this point of the season with only the occasional flicker of uncertainty. At the ‘Theatre of Dreams’, this season of transition has been more traumatic than anyone expected.

Where the Bavarians have strength in depth incomparable at any other European team and are resting players as often as they feel like, United were reliant on a 40-year-old Ryan Giggs to see them through the most important game of 2014.

The contrasting form and fortunes at these two clubs could scarcely differ more and it would be a myopic Manchester United fan who predicted anything other than elimination at the last eight.

Consider the heavy work United made of Olympiakos in Greece for a sense of what lies in store. Granted, they did well to turn the game around but nobody really expected the Greek champions to present any sort of an obstacle to the Premier League titleholders. But with Olympiakos now knocked out, it is they who are the ‘gimmie’ draw.

The only danger for Bayern is overstimating the ease with which they will come through this time. Their Champions League programme has feauted bouts of complacency and when they are in a rut during a game they do not snap out of it readily. Guardiola will need to be on his guard alongside Matthias Sammer on the bench to ensure that Bayern do not let up over the course of 180 minutes. 

For Moyes, this draw can only have a positive effect. The level of expectation will be zero and so by overcoming Bayern, he buys himself additional credit. Lose without being humiliated and he will have fulfilled what is expected of him.

Elsewhere in the draw, an intriguing tie is Paris St-Germain against Chelsea. PSG, for all their domestic dominance and commendable European progress, have yet to find their way past a genuine Champions League heavyweight in a knockout round. This is a huge test of the credentials of Laurent Blanc’s side, who have enough talent in their ranks to be a match for any team.

On form and ability, this is a tough one to call. Jose Mourinho wil be quietly confident of snaffling a crucial away goal and finishing the job at Stamford Bridge.

Barcelona have played Atletico Madrid three times this season and are yet to win. Diego Simeone, provided he has a fully fit contingent to call upon, will fancy his chances of preparing a fresh blueprint for success against a Blaugrana side who have blown hot and cold at times.

As bad as things are for Manchester United, a thought too should be spared for Borussia Dortmund. It’s fair to say not many people expected them to overcome Real Madrid at the semi-final stage last year but they nonetheless overcame. This year, though, they would appear to be without a prayer.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have not been at their best this season, in the league or in Europe. The attacking strength of Real Madrid, featuring the immense Cristiano Ronaldo, will prove irresistible.

Champions League draw Q n A with Ben Hayward!

Schedule

Table

Team P Pts

  • Chelsea FC – Arsenal
  • West Ham – Man Utd.
  • FC Lorient – Paris Saint-Germain
  • Hannover 96 – Borussia Dortmund
  • Mainz – FC Bayern München
Top predictions Odds
CHE 1-2 ARS

14.00

CHE 2-1 ARS

8.50

CHE 2-0 ARS

9.00

Top predictions Odds
CHE 1-2 ARS

17.00

CHE 2-1 ARS

9.50

CHE 2-0 ARS

9.00

Top predictions Odds
CHE 1-2 ARS

15.00

CHE 2-1 ARS

8.50

CHE 2-0 ARS

8.50

Top predictions Odds
WHU 0-2 MNU

9.00

WHU 0-3 MNU

15.00

WHU 1-3 MNU

15.00

Top predictions Odds
WHU 0-2 MNU

9.50

WHU 0-3 MNU

17.00

WHU 1-3 MNU

17.00

Top predictions Odds
WHU 0-2 MNU

9.50

WHU 0-3 MNU

15.00

WHU 1-3 MNU

15.00

Top predictions Odds
FCL 1-3 PSG

12.00

FCL 0-3 PSG

11.00

FCL 0-2 PSG

7.50

Top predictions Odds
FCL 1-3 PSG

11.00

FCL 0-3 PSG

9.50

FCL 0-2 PSG

7.00

Top predictions
FCL 1-3 PSG
FCL 0-3 PSG
FCL 0-2 PSG
Top predictions Odds
MAI 0-4 BAY

13.00

MAI 0-3 BAY

9.00

MAI 1-3 BAY

10.00

Top predictions Odds
MAI 0-4 BAY

12.00

MAI 0-3 BAY

8.50

MAI 1-3 BAY

11.00

Top predictions
MAI 0-4 BAY
MAI 0-3 BAY
MAI 1-3 BAY

Bayern, Madrid, Barcelona – Ranking the Champions League contenders

Goal examines the sides vying for Europe’s biggest prize ahead of some mouthwatering quarter-final ties

BAYERN MUNICH

PATH TO THE QUARTERS
Last opponents:
Arsenal
Next opponents: Man Utd

There has seldom been a more dominant football team in recent years than this current Bayern Munich outfit. Pep Guardiola has seemingly built upon perfection since replacing the all-conquering Jupp Heynckes last summer, leaving many suggesting a back-to-back Champions League triumph is something of an inevitability.

They remain a united machine of a team, with no stand-out stars taking the attention away from what is a model outfit. If anything, they have become only more impressive as a squad, with Guardiola regularly rotating his panel and Bavarians’ fortunes improving as a result. They are now 50 games unbeaten in the Bundesliga and on course for another magnificent treble.

Bayern were the one team nobody wanted in Friday’s draw and their pairing with an under-achieving Manchester United side means that their status as favourites has only strengthened.

REAL MADRID

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Last opponents:
Schalke
Next opponents: Dortmund

Real Madrid have been chasing La Decima for 12 years now, and while they have reached the semi-finals on three occasions since their last win in 2002, they have rarely looked as destructive as they have at times this season.

With the irrepressible Cristian Ronaldo leading the way and Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema helping to sweep aside most opponents, Carlo Ancelotti’s Blancos appear as good a bet as anyone to stop Bayern making Champions League history. Currently boasting leadership of a fiercely-competitive La Liga and with a 9-2 aggregate win over Schalke behind them, their current form makes them a truly uncompromising opponent.

The business end will present them with tougher fixtures than those they have negotiated so far in the Champions League, though, and the prospect of facing a Borussia Dortmund side they fell to last season will really test their resolve. They appear to be a different animal this term, though.

BARCELONA

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Last opponents:
Man City
Next opponents: Atletico

Victor Valdes and Carles Puyol may have given notice on their Barcelona careers, but there could yet be one last hurrah for the current Catalan line-up before the Blaugrana start to build for the future.

Last season’s 7-0 semi-final humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich really stuck in the craw of a club so used to success in the last half-decade, and while few consider them to be a match for the Bavarian powerhouse 12 months on, they could yet have a great say in the Champions League’s destination. With Lionel Messi getting back into form and the presence of star talents such as Andres Iniesta, Neymar and Xavi, it would be foolish to write Barca off completely.

The quarter-final draw has pitted them up against an Atletico Madrid side they have failed to beat in three meetings this term, but they have also yet to lose to Diego Simeone’s men, and a repeat of the two-legged win in the Supercopa de Espana would suit them just fine.

PARIS SAINT GERMAIN

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Last opponents:
Leverkusen
Next opponents: Chelsea

Zlatan Ibrahimovic might well have taken most of the headlines during Paris Saint-Germain’s superb run to a second straight Champions League quarter-final appearance, but the supporting cast has enough quality about it to make Laurent Blanc’s side a decent outside chance for the trophy.

The Swede’s total of 40 goals this season includes 10 in just seven Champions League fixtures, and a continuation of that form will surely see the Parisiens through to the last four and beyond. Throw in the addition this term of Edinson Cavani, the midfield power and panache of Blaise Matuidi, Thiago Motta, Yohan Cabaye and Marco Verratti and the presence behind them of arguably the world’s best defender in Thiago Silva, and there’s every reason to believe the France giants can cause a stir.

The clash with Chelsea will without doubt be their toughest assignment to date, with Jose Mourinho likely to have the tactical edge. The question thereafter falls on the form of Ibrahimovic, but this year could well be his time.

CHELSEA

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Last opponents:
Galatasaray
Next opponents: PSG

The Champions League and Chelsea have had a real love-hate relationship of late, but the 2012 winners showed in their last-16 win over Galatasaray that they have the necessary tools and tactics to go deep once more this time around.

Jose Mourinho might have fallen short of a final appearance in his first stint as Blues manager, but he seems to have come back more determined than ever before to bring the famous old trophy back to Stamford Bridge following the success under Roberto Di Matteo two years ago.

With Samuel Eto’o belying his veteran status and a dynamic midfield contingent playing behind him, Chelsea’s danger to the more fancied outfits should not be underestimated.

If anyone can find an answer to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s threat, it surely is his former coach Mourinho, and the clash with PSG will certainly be the toughest test of the Special One’s second reign at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea fans will fancy their chances of edging through, though, and thereafter it is anybody’s guess what the Londoners can achieve.

ATLETICO MADRID

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Last opponents:
Milan
Next opponents: Barcelona

When the draw for the round of 16 was made in December, many AC Milan fans breathed a sigh of relief when they were paired with Atletico Madrid, but the 5-1 aggregate win for the Rojiblancos was further proof of just how much they have to offer on the continent.

The form of Diego Costa, Arda Turan et al in La Liga has helped to end the long-reigning duopoly of Real Madrid and Barcelona, and the transferral of that form into Europe could yet see them cause a few more upsets this season. Diego Simeone’s side may continue to be looked down upon by some as outsiders, but that may well see more giants fall by the wayside.

They will be pleased to have drawn a familiar foe in Barcelona, given their lack of European nous compared to some of the top continental clubs, and will be hoping their previous scrapes with the Catalans will prove to be a good starting point from which to build in the quarter-finals.

BORUSSIA DORTMUND

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Last opponents:
Zenit
Next opponents: Real Madrid

Dortmund’s ascension to the top of the European game last May resulted in many observers suggesting the continent needed to learn from the German way. And while they have done nothing to trouble Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga this term, BVB’s run to the last eight in the Champions League suggests that they remain a real threat abroad.

Having graduated from perhaps the toughest group in the competition’s history, Jurgen Klopp and his men find themselves approaching the quarter-finals with nothing to lose once more after being written off by detractors. First, it was claimed they wouldn’t get over the loss of Mario Gotze, then many believed they’d be squeezed out by Napoli and Arsenal.

Now, there are many suggesting the loss of Robert Lewandowski for the first leg of their quarter-final against Real Madrid will signal the end of their run, but if his team-mates can gain a respectable result in the first leg, then how better to repay them than replicate his match-winning performance of last year’s semi-final?

MANCHESTER UNITED

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Last opponents:
Olympiakos
Next opponents: Bayern

There was a lot of ‘turning point’ talk after Manchester United overcame a 2-0 deficit on Wednesday to see off Olympiakos and claim a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and David Moyes’ men have now earned their chance to prove such assertions to be correct.

The ex-Everton boss has been pilloried by detractors following the Red Devils’ fall from grace in the Premier League this season, but he has largely had the golden touch in Europe. Their one significant blow came away to the Greeks in the last 16, but the second-leg performance was typical of United’s big nights at Old Trafford over the past 20 years.

However, their league form and general drop in standards from previous years cannot be overlooked, and despite the nature of the turnaround on Wednesday, they could not have had a worse assignment in the last eight than Bayern. Few will back Moyes’ side to progress against the German giants.