Zlatan's Barca Return & 8 Other Things To Look Forward To In The CL Quarter-Finals

No English teams? Who needs them with four mouth watering ties. Every game will have tiny battles to overcome, but these in particular surely stand out.
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No English teams? Who needs them with four mouth watering ties. Every game will have tiny battles to overcome, but these in particular surely stand out.

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1) Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Return To The Camp Nou

He departed on particularly acrimonious circumstances in 2011 after a year long loan spell with AC Milan and Ibrahimovic will no doubt be keen to 'get one over' his former employers. Shifted to the wing after Messi kicked up a fuss during his 12 month stint at the Camp Nou, Zlatan documented his feelings for then manager Pep Guardiola in 'I Am Zlatan', dubbing the soon-to-be Bayern head coach 'The Philosopher' primarily because over thinks managerial scenarios. While Pep is no longer perched on the Barcelona throne, there are likely to be fireworks on Zlatan's return to Spain, provided his three game ban is overturned following his red card against Valencia at the last 16 stage.

2) The Battle Of The Two Best Goalkeepers

The clash of football's two best goalkeepers, this is just one of many little battles in what is arguably the tie of the draw. Buffon continues to excel as the last line of defence for Juventus, and at 35 years of age has the experience to guide the Old Lady to the semis. However, Neuer has formed the cornerstone for an almost watertight Bayern backline this season, with the German's conceding just 10 goals in the Bundesliga this year.

3) The Hipster Derby

While Shakhtar Donetsk - Borussia Dortmund was the tie that left footballing hipsters frothing at their mouths, Malaga coming up against the Bundesliga side will surely do the same. In their debut campaign, Los Boquerones have overcome the likes of AC Milan and FC Porto to reach this stage, but against the managerial talents of Jurgen Klopp, Malaga may well find it difficult to navigate to the final four. Either way, this encounter should be an open, hotly contested affair between two teams that like to get the ball down on the deck and play.

4) Sneijder's Return To Madrid

The Dutchman spent just two years with Real Madrid before being signed by Inter Milan and, more importantly, Jose Mourinho in 2009. Sneijder was vital to the Nerazzurri's Champions League triumph in 2010 before the Portuguese tactician upped sticks for the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. After a turbulent six months in Milan, Sneijder upped sticks for Galatasaray and the encounter will mark a return to Madrid for the schemer and a face off against Jose.

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5) Drogba Up Against Mourinho

The man who took Drogba to England back in 2004, the powerful frontman has regularly spoken highly of Mourinho and, like Sneijder, will come up against his former manager when the two teams meet for a place in the semi-finals of the competition.

6) The Strength Of Spain

If ever there was a clue to the continental pendulum swinging in the favour of the Primera Division ahead of the Premier League, this is it. With Malaga, Real Madrid and Barcelona each avoiding one another in the quarter-finals, there is a chance for the Spanish trio to make up 75% of the semi-final contenders, obviously, not to mention the lack of English participation.

7) The Qatar Derby

The Qatari owners vs the Qatari sponsors, PSG and Barcelona is one encounter that will leave the Qatari Foundations salivating at the prospect of two of their highly invested teams coming up against one another. TV revenue in the Middle East as a result will increase ten fold and it's not only a win-win for us football fans, but one of those in charge of the coffers at the Parc des Princes and Camp Nou, respectively.

8) Pirlo And The Bayern Machine

With time on the ball, Andrea Pirlo is a delight to watch. The Divine Beard spreads the ball like hot butter on toast. However, against Bayern's powerhouse midfield, the Italian could struggle to pick out his probing passes and make the desired impact. He may've excelled against Germany for Italy at Euro 2012, but Germany, obviously, didn't have Javi Martinez to call upon.

9) Beckham's Return To Spain

Old Goldenballs is unlikely to play a major role against Barca, what with Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi ahead of him in the pecking order, but it will mark a return to the Camp Nou for Beckham, who spent four years with heated rivals Real Madrid prior to his 2007 move to LA Galaxy. Furthermore, it will give an indication as to whether Beckham can still cut it at the highest level, especially when up against comfortably the strongest midfield trio - Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets - in world football.