By Oliver Trust
When Bayern Munich’s squad and its coach Pep Guardiola finished their meeting at their Saebener Strasse club headquarters in Munich after watching the 2015/2016 Champions League quarterfinal draw, you could see many happy faces.
Benfica Lisbon is far from being a nightmare draw for the 2015 German champion. The duel against the only Portuguese club is more like an obligation than a difficult challenge on the road to the final in Milan on May 28. Fans can still dream of a final of Bayern against Barcelona or Real Madrid. Against both clubs Bayern lost the semifinal in the last two years.
Looking at the draw in general, all so-called big boys can basically be happy about their next opponents, maybe only Manchester City have reason to be concerned facing the 2015/2016 French champion Paris St. Germain.
Real Madrid can be happy about underdogs VfL Wolfsburg, and Barcelona will have to remember the tight league match against Atletico Madrid but the current title holder is still the big favorite to be the first club ever to defend the Champions League title.
At first glance predictions seem to be no real challenge. Fans though will be rooting for the underdogs on April 5 and April 6 and April 12 and April 13. Bayern Munich will beat Benfica, Real should beat Wolfsburg, Paris will most likely beat Manchester City and Barcelona should be the winner against Atletico.
Both German clubs want to avoid meeting each other, and Bayern and Pep Guardiola want to avoid Manchester City.
After a fortunate tie against Juventus, Bayern Munich might be the luckiest club left in the draw, like Real Madrid.
Despite being underdogs, Wolfsburg is looking forward to what should be a special occasion. “It is a great draw. What we didn’t want was a German-German duel,” said Wolfsburgs CEO Klaus Allofs.
Looking at Bayern Munich having got past the courageous Italian side Juventus with a lot of luck, it couldn’t have worked better. “Of course we respect Benfica and have to be fully concentrated in the two matches,” said Bayern’s French striker Franck Ribery.
Bayern’s Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso was similarly cautious: “Benfica is the leading club in Portugal and something we have to remember. And we some time ago had a tight clash with Porto.”
But things seem to be clear for most others, such as former Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld who goes along with most fans opinion: “Bayern are certs to Benfica, there is no doubt.”
Even for the underdog, Real Madrid is not a nightmare draw. Losing to the Spanish giant will not be an embarrassment. “It’s clear that Real is the big favorite, we can hope for an upset and will do all we can,” said Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking. Real won the last four duels against German clubs.
For Barcelona the draw against Atletico will be a tough task as the best offence in Europe is facing the team with the best defense. Manchster City, in the duel against Paris St. Germain, will have to deal with the fact the team building has not been completed.
In advance of the current draw, Bayern Munich’s CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge again demanded to consider a seeding list in the near future to “protect” the interests of the bigger clubs to prevent them to have to play against each other in an early rounds such as in the last 16.
“At a certain point you have to think about that, you can’t leave things like that to some coincidence,” said Rummenigge.
Not all clubs that participate in Europe are happy about Rummenigge’s initiative. For instance Wolfsburg’s CEO Klaus Allofs said: “I can understand his thoughts. But football lives from thrilling draws and thrilling duels no matter when.”
Many pundits though expect some sort of seeding list in the near future. Most football fans in Germany don’t like a seeding list. In a survey made by the football magazine “Kicker”, nearly 87 percent voted against a seeding list.
Looking at the current draw, a funny coincidence was produced as the top four clubs don’t have to play against each other.
Besides Rummenigge’s “seeding list” suggestion, several major European clubs and the European football federation are talking about secret plans to implement an additional competition above the Euro League and the Champions League.
A possible “Super League” according to the plans would only contain big names like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris St. Germain, Manchester United and Manchester City, Juventus Turin and some others and provide them additional income. Until now the Champions League winner can earn about 80 to 90 million euros. In a “Super League” it is expected that the winner would get at least twice as much. Enditem