It had to be you / It had to be yooouuu!

Image courtesy of UEFA

The Champions League quarterfinal ties are set, and to the surprise of nobody except the most cynical and conspiracy-ridden, Barça has drawn Juventus.

Why did this have to be? Because Barça will, absent any other mitigating factors, always draw the team that it has the most history with and the deepest backstory. So when Eto’o was at Inter, guess who Barça drew? Guardiola at Bayern, and guess what? This year, now that Dani Alves, former Barça RB, is back from his injury and setting the world alight — that’s right.

In looking at the list of possible opponents, other than Leicester City, it’s hard to argue with the comfort of Barça drawing Juventus. They are a strong side with a legend between the sticks, and are playing great football right now. But RM and Atleti are two of the best teams in the world, and Barça tormentors. Plus whose heart is ready to deal with a Champions League Classic? Not mine. Not yours, either. So don’t even lie.

Monaco or Dortmund? Do you really want those damn kids running around and being a pest among our dignified veterans? No. And I don’t, either.

Other than Atleti, Juventus is also the most staunch team defensively. They will be difficult to score against. The last time the two met in Champions League was the Rome final, a match that many culers have, in the mists of legend, believed to be easier than it was. This will be a tough, tough battle. And when Higuain doesn’t wear an Argentina shirt, he is an exceptional goalscorer. And don’t forget about Dybala, even though I know that you haven’t.

Neymar vs Alves. Yikes. That is going to be so much fun, even as they won’t often be directly matched up as Juventus will be looking to help out on that side as teams so often do against Barça, given Neymar’s role as catalyst and accelerant.

The other matchups are also very interesting. Conspiracy theorists will say that the suitcases of cash didn’t arrive in time to ensure that Real Madrid drew Leicester City, which would really have been the best team for them to draw as they would have destroyed the Lesters. Instead Atleti got them, in a matchup that will be very interesting, thanks to the frequent inability of Atleti to put the ball in the net.

Real Madrid/Bayern will be fantastic, especially if Bayern can win. We’re counting on native son Thiago Alcantara to do the world a solid and rid it of evil. Bayern is playing fantastic football right now, and have Bundesliga all but locked down, so they can focus on that matchup. Not so for Real Madrid who, like a certain Catalan club, is looking rather dodgy and vulnerable all too often this season.

Finally, the tie everyone was hoping for, Dortmund/Monaco, which features two “youth will be served” teams, both of whom feature fast, dynamic attacks and players that will buy some agent a new yacht in the not-to-distant future. For you folks familiar with American basketball, that is a Western Conference showdown all the way, Golden State against Oklahoma City. It’s going to be a riot, and there should be plenty of goals scored.

Picks? Ah, the hard part. But:

Atleti over Leicester
Barça over Juventus
Monaco over Dortmund
Bayern over Real Madrid

But I could be wrong.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. After PSG,juve.A team that already won their league,they can rotate,best defense in Europe,great tactician coach.And the best defense in Europe.
    Can we make the draw again and have madrid or bayern?

  2. Tough draw. However, I too am happy to avoid the other Spanish teams, as well as Bayern. Of course Monaco, Dortmund or Leicester would be easier on paper, but we knew it wouldn’t be any of them. The tie against Juve feels exciting, and Real and Bayern facing each other makes the round overall more interesting. A lot of exciting games – I like the draw, from an entertainment point of view.

    Strangely, probably because of fantastic comeback, I feel relaxed about the rest of the tournament. To me, it had value in itself and will not be rendered pointless if Barca don’t win the lot. But hey, we still might! Either way, please Bayern, do you job well. And for the love of god, no RM-AM in the final!

    Looking forward to this!

  3. Interesting draw.

    I am always confident not matter who we face frankly, but I think the teams I really wanted to avoid in this draw were Dortmund or Monaco. I know that sounds strange given the other teams in the pot, BUT the teams that have caused us the most trouble of late are young, high energy teams that can pin us back and press us for a large majority of the game. While any team in principle can do that, I think the other teams are more likely to tire earlier on in the games giving us more time to assert ourselves. Also both those teams just have ridiculous pace on the counter attack!

    Do not get me wrong, Juve have a fantastic team and a strong defence and they will be very difficult to beat, but I also think they will be more likely to sit back and try to absorb our pressure vs taking a more aggressive approach and generally that tactic has failed against us recently.

    On the other ties. I really hope Bayern knock out Real (and I think they should, but you never know with the evil ones, especially with Ramos scoring what seems to be a goal a game!!). Monaco vs Dortmund can’t call, but it is going to be wild either way and the pick of the bunch for me. Athletico vs Leicester may end up being the most boring tie ever to be played, given how they both approach games, but you never know. I actually think Leicester will pull it off somehow.

    I have to say, feeling a bit sorry for PSG fans who must have thought they were definitely going to be in the pot. Actually one of my closest friends here in London is married to a Parisian girl (he supports Arsenal) and after the first leg she was so excited that she got tickets to Barcelona for the second leg fully expecting to watch her team go through! Not only did they end up not getting through, but they had to sit in the stadium for a good hour after the game was over before they were allowed to leave! I probably shouldn’t find that funny, but i do!

  4. Juve is a tough gig. I actually wanted Monaco. Not because it would be easy (far from it), but because it would probably have been two of the most entertaining games in CL history. I’m glad Barca avoided Bayern (I’d love that to be the final).
    I have a sneaky feeling Bayern will beat Real, although it will be tight.
    Dortmund to beat Monaco 11-10 on aggregate 🙂
    Atletico to sneak past Leicester on penalties after two 0-0 draws..
    And the final aggregate score between Barca vs Juve is…..

  5. I hear the RM fans started another petition so the CL draw to be repeated.
    This is not what they expected and used of.

  6. Very happy with the draw, actually. I think the games vs juventus will be difficult but fair, and to go through we’ll need to be smart and tactical.
    I think Bayern (I guess hope is a better word) will hammer RM, and I will enjoy that immensely. I see them as the strongest team of the lot — not that we are bad, but we are thin. The season has been a success already, so I’m happy no matter how far we progress.

  7. Doesn’t matter for me. If we turn up we beat anyone, if we don’t anyone can beat us. We need form and consistency in the time between now and then.

  8. Somehow I just enjoy meeting top teams in champion’s league. Barcelona don’t do well with small teams in champion’s league. why? because while big teams want to keep their pride by playing attacking football against Barca and trying to go toe-to-toe with barca and we all know what happens when you play open football against messi and co in the CL.

    Those small teams on the other hand don’t have much pride to protect and tend to play the ugliest and most negative kind of football against Barca. Anything just to get through. That is why I don’t see Chelsea as much of a big team cos they also fall in the category of teams that play negative football.

  9. //

    Now that some time has allowed to let the draw settle in, I feel it is important to urge caution before we carried away.
    Make no mistake, Juventus will be difficult.

    Because a man named Allegri will see to it that it is. A man who actually oversaw, in my opinion, one of the worst defeats handed out to Barca in this recent past of dominance.
    For me, it was worse than this 4-0 loss to PSG, because in that game, if my memory serves me well, Barca were clueless, uninspired and failed to have ONE SHOT ON GOAL the whole match. 2-0 away to Milan.

    In fact, I’d go as far to say that this draw is the second toughest team we could have drawn. I would rate RM, Atleti, Dortmund, Monaco and Leicester all as easier draws in decreasing order of difficulty.

    Having said that, I always fancy our chances. Always. Against any team.
    I do hope though that after all the celebrations post the #MotherRemontada, Lucho gathered his players and pointed out that we got lucky. And that the real Barca is waaay better.

    This understanding is imperative if we are actually serious about the winning the whole thing.


    A Barca Vs Dortmund / Monaco would be nice.

  10. Well at least we didn’t get any of the freaking La Liga sides. Juve is the worthiest of opponents. They are playing better than they did in 2015. It won’t be an easy game by any means. The Turin game needs to be the opposite of the Paris game. We need to score and play with th with press and intensity of the Camp Nou game versus Paris. We are going to neeed everyone to show up, hopefully Gomes is dropped from the list. Just kidding….not really. From an entertaining view, the draw is succulent. RM vs Bayern is going to be crazy. Bayern is gonna go for blood after what happened in 13/14 where RM spanked them at the Allianz. I’m satisfied with the draw. It’s the Champions League. Sooner or later you run into a dragon of a team that you just gotta slay no matter what if you wanna lift the trophy with the big ears. Love it!!

  11. A concern is Busquets missing the first leg… will be interesting to see how LE approaches that. Sergi? Masche? We’ll see.

  12. “We’re counting on native son Thiago Alcantara to do the world a solid and rid it of evil.” Lol thanks for the laugh… Nice piece by the way. All these matchups are going to be interesting. It was literally the perfect draw.

  13. I don’t think L.E will opt for masche to play as a DM in the absence of busi. if he is yo play with 3 at the back then there is no available option in our squad who could play as a RCB comfortably bar masche, so I m expecting lucho to give gomes another chance to redeem himself and play him as a DM. not a good option though but better than the alternatives, masche, raki, Sergi. has better composure,passing ability and ball circulation than raki and masche, despite being awful at defending, raki could be paired with him to strengthen the mid, if he can pull of good performance like the city game thats would be good. besides, his physical and aerial presence will be key in the absence of busi. all in all it left for lucho to decide

  14. Very entertaining game for sure. The strengths and weaknesses of three at the back were shown very clearly in this match. Dominant in attack, but far too many dangerous situations for Barca almost out of nowhere.

    Neymar, Messi and Suarez missed a lot, but they still were on fire. Suarez with the sheer willpower to score the first and force the penalty + red for the second, Neymar with some bad decisions and finishing but running riot on his side, Messi also bad decisions but a lot of brilliance as well. A bit worried about Iniesta, he was great before his injury but has time finally caught up with him now? That would be very sad for football.

    One has to feel for Diego Alves. Some great saves once again, but too many goals once again, as seems to be customary for him against Barca.

    Anyway – we are not favorites to win the league, but I am strangely confident we will win the Clásico, and after that anything is possible.

    1. Iniesta did quite ok tonight, close to what he can produce in a game.
      But we have to be more concrete in front of a goal, otherwise… and we can’t leave so much space in the back. LE has to do something about it, maybe switching during the game from 3 to 4 in our defense depending on the situation.

  15. Fun game, Messi unplayable once he got going; Neymar amazing except his finishing. That last run for Gomes’ goal, though… (good for André, too!). But really, Leo should’ve had 3 or 4 assists, and about two more FKs in outside the box.

    And how is it possible Montoya doesn’t get a yellow sooner?

    But we can’t defend like this against better teams; can’t be heroic every time. Umtiti with another master class, though. What is this guy having for breakfast? A few attackers?

  16. The three certainly brings its own problems but it offer us potential answers to our problems of the midfield too. If done properly, it frees up Iniesta from too many defensive duties, provides us with ability to press high, makes possession easier yet still have numbers back when necessary.

    However, it will require some time to get used to. I praised Masche there against PSG but it was because he stayed at home – you have to with only three at the back. Tonight he played well but wandered. That was why we lost the second goal. . Yes, Rakitic will deservedly get pelters for his part but that doesn’t happen if Masche stays. I’m also gonna say Umtiti should have done a LOT better there. The only one who didn’t do anything wrong for me was Pique – but I’m coming to him.

    What was he thinking about trying to play offside right on the centre line ? Gave Masche an impossible decision to make. I’ve blamed Masche for this before but this time Pique was guilty. You can’t suddenly jump forward and expect others to do so at the exact same moment. Not good.

    So it will take time to iron things out. On balance I’d say it won’t work unless we commit to a heavy press along with it. The passer for the goal had way too much time to pick the pass inside Rakitic. The two wide mids ( neither of whom should be Ini) also need to come inside as soon as we lose the ball and realise they are defenders the moment we lose it. Far too much of its somebody else’s job at the moment.

    In other thoughts. I thought Suarez was ( we may never see a better finish he than his goal ) and Messi is just unbelievable. Even allowing for the fact it was him I didn’t expect his second goal. Iniesta was obviously given a freer role whitch suited him, maybe because LE trusted Umtiti to stay where he should be and it paid off. Some great touches and the glue was back.

    I didn’t like the whistles when Gomes came on but I loved the cheers at his first touch. If you’re at the game you support everyone. Credit to LE for trying this new structure and good to see Unzue is Now favourite. Also, good to see him not scared to berate Masche early on for something that I didn’t even notice !

    Other than all this I quite enjoyed the game . . .

    1. How on earth did that game not finish at least 10-2 in our favor?

      Agree on every point, Jim. Suarez was my MOTM, or at least the Man of the First Half. He was on fire in that inside left channel. Great thinking and execution on the first goal. One of his best games this season. And how does one know that Suarez is on form? He was not once found offside in that first half 🙂

      Agree also on the defensive issues. Clearly we haven’t yet got the ‘morphing back into a 4-4-2 the moment we lose possession’ part quite down yet. It will definitely take time, but what concerns me is that in my estimation we have a bit of a personnel issue as well when in comes to that defensive transition. We don’t have pace in the midfield, in fact very little genuine pace in our current squad apart from one or two players. So, when Ini and Busi are both pushed up, that transition is almost dead on arrival unless others step in. Hence our pressing and covering by the faster players have to be spot on, which was not the case today. Raki, Rafa and even Ney were all slacking today in their tracking duties. I mean, Raki tried, but wasn’t his usual sharp self. And the CBs were not either. It was weird to see Masche just give up chasing after his attempt at closing down failed in the midfield for that second goal.

      Ok, now that I have aired all my knit-picketty grievences, I have to say it was quite fun to watch, for the most part, except the last 20 minutes when we were carrying that one-goal lead, which was a bit nerve wracking to be honest. We created chances almost at will from the get go, and missed them at will. It had a bizzare vibe of a pre-season friendly at some points.

  17. Sorry, not only does my predictive text hate me but it is also now lagging about five seconds behind my typing on this old iPad and trust me I can’t remember what I did five seconds ago. Meant to say I thought Suarez was exceptional.

  18. 3-4-3 is such a difficult system when you dont have the right tools and Macherano as a RCB is a disaster waiting to happen.
    Lucho try new things but after the game said that we will go back to 4-3-3 soon.
    He is not stupid.He watch what we all watch.

  19. If the team dont have much money for transfers i say one thing:Buy defenders.Find a new Umtiti for the RCB,find a top RB and a young LB.
    Last seasons we overspended for mid-attack and we overlooked our problems in back.
    I would like a new Abidal type player for LB with offensive qualities and a RB like Fabinho.

  20. I loved Messi’s game today. Did anyone notice how much more effective he was just by playing in that right side of the field he has dominated his entire career? I prefer Left Forward Messi over trequartista Messi. Rakitic had a tough game brbhe tried very hard so he’s exempt. It was kind of nice of Munir and Gomes both scored but didn’t celebrate. I love the new system 3-4-3 but we gotta work out the defensive side of things. We cannot let Juventus have that much space or we are toast because you know if anyone knows how to defend. It’s the Italians! I felt sad for Ney who was really trying to score his 100th goal for the club. Something about the man’s finishing has been off all season long but I hope it’s gets fixed towards the run in. So let’s hope that someone manages to wound Madrid and have them drop points so we can overtake them. Visca el Barça, el equip del món

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