The Champions League quarterfinals promise a thrilling first two weeks of April for fans of The Beautiful Game, as eight of the world's best teams drew tantalizing matchups against each other. In the tie that is sure to draw the most attention of the four quarterfinal pairings, defending UEFA Champions League title-holders will square off against the reigning English Premier League champions, Manchester United.
"I was thrilled that we were in the draw. In a lot of ways, it didn't matter who we drew," Manchester United Manager David Moyes said. "But we have pulled out the favorites."
Indeed, most world football experts have picked Bayern, under manager Pep Guardiola who always seems to still be around in the tournament's later stages, to win the Champions League for the second year in a row.
But the matchup also presents a massive opportunity for Moyes. With Manchester United struggling on the domestic front and standing no realistic chance of retaining their championship, Moyes has found himself under fire from the start of his first season managing the once-dominant Manchester United side.
Merely reaching the Champions League quarterfinals has already provided a measure of redemption for Moyes. To deal a blow to the defending Champions League champions would go a long way to solidifying his still-tenuous position at Old Trafford.
Whatever Moyes accomplishes, he will have to do it without star striker Robin Van Persie. The Dutch star injured his knee in Manchester United's Round of 16 victory over Olympiakos earlier this week, and now may miss the remainder of the 2013/14 season.
Manchester United hosts the Champions League favorites on April 1. The other quarterfinal match that day pits Barcelona F.C. against their La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid, a team that Barcelona — who are having what for Barcelona counts as as off-year — has yet to defeat in three games, all of which ended in draws.
The other English team remaining in the Champions League, Chelsea, pulled another difficult matchup, traveling to Paris on April 2 to take on French title holder Paris Saint-Germaine.
"All seven teams left are very strong," said Paris St-Germain President Nasser Al-Khelaïfi. "We will be ready for the games against Chelsea, a club which I have a lot of respect for."
In the other game to be played April 2, Real Madrid featuring the big-money pairing of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, looks for revenge against the team that stopped them in the semi-finals last year, German side Borussia Dortmund.
Dortmund went on to lose to fellow Bundesliga side Bayern in the Champions League Final last year.