There’s no path to a Premier League team reaching the UEFA Champions League Final without a power along the way, and there’s no surprise there: This is the final eight of the biggest confederation club competition on Earth (Sorry Copa Libertadores).
Who got the easiest and toughest routes is another story.
Hot on the heels of springing a surprise comeback in Paris against PSG, Manchester United will need to beat Barcelona ahead of an anticipated semifinal against Liverpool (or Porto).
That’s not completely ruling out the Portuguese set, but let’s be honest: Jurgen Klopp‘s men caught a break after having to handle Bayern Munich in the Round of 16 and both Napoli and PSG during a rough group stage.
You’d argue that Barcelona sitting on the same side of the bracket as Liverpool and Manchester United puts Man City and Spurs in a better place, even while they draw each other.
City, for its part, meets a Spurs side its beaten three-straight times under Pep Guardiola after Mauricio Pochettino got the better of his former Barcelona Derby rival in their first two Premier League meetings.
The winner seems likely to get Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus, though you’d have said the same thing about Ronaldo’s old pals Real Madrid when it drew Ajax in the previous round.
So whose path is easiest?
- Man City
- Manchester United
As for which final match-ups carry the most intrigue, that’s tough.
We can rule out any including Porto and Ajax, as much as it would be fun to see a pair of heroic underdog runs to the final (and that future Barca star Frenkie de Jong would meet his soon-to-be employer).
It does seem to set-up well enough for another (and final?) match-up of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in their primes, and many will want to see Barcelona and Juventus.
By many, we mean no one amongst the legions of Premier League fans reading this site.
Apologies to Harry Kane and Tottenham Hotspur, who would carry the hearts of many including us in almost any final match-up. But they don’t have a built-in Premier League rival and would be a significant underdog against Barca.
And while we’re enjoying the idea of Barcelona standing in the way of Pep Guardiola’s return to glory and Manchester City‘s bid for its first Champions League crown — same thing for a Manchester United reunion with Juventus‘ Cristiano Ronaldo — this one comes down to one of two options for a good portion of the ProSoccerTalk readership.
Well, three. Let’s be fair to those who despise all three named PL clubs.