he draw for the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals and semi-finals took place on Friday 18 March.
Winners play Manchester City or Atlético in the semi-finals
The reigning champions have the necessary experience to navigate their way through the Champions League knockout rounds and they seem to be basing this campaign on the same principles as last: a defense that is not used to conceding goals and enough quality in attack to hurt any opposition. And the man at the helm, Thomas Tuchel, who keeps his players focused from game to game with outstanding motivation techniques!
Key player: Kai Havertz
The scorer of the winning goal in the 2020/21 Champions League final looks to be timing his run perfectly again this term, hitting his stride at the business end of the season.
If they can turn that tie against Paris around, against all the odds, then nothing is beyond them. Two younger, energetic, less-used players produced star turns in eliminating the French side: Federico Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga. Their impacts need to continue in the ascendancy. But it's the 70 goals and assists total that the Karim Benzema-Vinicíus Júnior partnership has produced this season that whispers potential winners.
Key player: Karim Benzema
Cristiano Ronaldo's departure from Real Madrid caused great regret, but it seems the French forward has stepped up. Fittingly, he scored Madrid's 1,000th European Cup goal against Shakhtar earlier this campaign then scored twice in quick succession late in extra-time to reverse their last-16 draw with Paris.
Winners play Chelsea or Real Madrid in the semi-finals
There are only one or two teams left in the competition – if that – who are capable of dealing with City's metronomic passing and relentless pressing. Their strength in depth is unrivaled across Europe, while their hunger for a maiden Champions League triumph remains as ferocious as ever. After all, they couldn't have gone much closer in Porto last May.
Key player: Kevin De Bruyne
The club's midfield talisman, who passed 250 appearances last season and remains a key player despite the riches around him has had something of an uneven start to his campaign. But he seems on form lately as can be seen by how often they've scored goals in crucial games since late group stage!
You just need to take one look at the dogged determination Atleti showed as they fought their way past Manchester United in the last 16 to see why they can go all the way and upset anyone in this competition. They are so resilient and masters of backs-against-the-wall football, and will now look to add City to their recent list of English victims.
Key player: João Félix
Much like this Atlético side as a whole, Portugal forward has grown into the campaign and is now a fixture in the side. His pace, directness, and work rate have made him undroppable for Simeone, while his youthful impishness, guile, and eye for goal have made him an idol for the Atleti faithful.
Winners play Benfica or Liverpool in the semi-finals
The Yellow Submarine might not be fancied by many, yet they showed exactly what they're made of when they won the UEFA Europa League last season. When you throw in the fact they've already knocked out Juventus and are welcoming back Gerard Moreno from injury, they'll be confident they can go one better than their 2005/06 semi-final exit.
Key player: Arnaut Danjuma
A summer arrival from the English second tier might not have had fans overly excited, but the Dutchman has been a revelation in both domestic and European football for Villarreal, troubling defences with his skill, pace and directness – and his eye for goal.
Quite simply, because it's Bayern; as long as they're in it, they can win it. Tougher tests await from the quarter-finals onwards, but with Robert Lewandowski fit and firing there's no reason the Bavarians can't go all the way and claim their seventh European crown.
Key player: Robert Lewandowski
The relentless Poland striker hit new heights last term, scoring a record 41 German league goals as Bayern sealed a ninth straight championship. He has maintained that form this season and is 2021/22 competition top scorer with 12 goals to his name. Lewandowski is also third on the list of all-time scorers in the Champions League.
Winners play Villarreal or Bayern in the semi-finals
Unfancied Benfica are on an upward curve under caretaker boss Nélson Veríssimo. Drawing on homegrown players, the Eagles have had their wings clipped in the league but, in Europe, they are capable of making the most of the extra space they get in the attacking third, particularly Darwin Nuñez. Of course, there are big hurdles to negotiate, but the dream is alive.
Key player: Darwin Nuñez
From virtual unknown to leading a side into the Champions League quarter-finals. His pace, work rate and physicality make the Uruguayan a player capable of scoring on the big stage at the big moments. He has delivered key goals, against Barcelona and Ajax, and Nélson Veríssimo's tactics seem to have brought the best out of him.
The similarity to the 2018/19 Champions League-winning campaign is that domestically Liverpool are chasing a rampant Manchester City, and it seems that having such an objective always brings the best out of Jürgen Klopp's team. When they hit top form, and everything works in devastating harmony, it's hard to see anyone coping with them. If you add in the Anfield factor, anything is possible.
Key player: Mohamed Salah
The Egypt forward has been the face of this Liverpool side since arriving from Roma in 2017. A star at Basel, he first landed in England with Chelsea in 2014 but has proved a major talent on Merseyside, his pace, intelligence and finishing helping him bag 33 Champions League goals for the club. He has seemingly gone up another notch this term.