The Champions League quarterfinals draw produced some interesting clashes, chief among them the Premier League champions' near-impossible task against the titleholders.COMMENT
As the balls were drawn in Nyon, the sense of foreboding was palpable. The hypothetical nightmare draw for Manchester United in the Champions League quarterfinals was Bayern Munich. It has come to pass.
The Olympiakos victory stoked the fires of recovery for David Moyes and his beleaguered players, but here comes Pep Guardiola to throw a big bucket of water over that.
Bayern is the strongest team in the competition and will lift the Bundesliga title before lacing up the boots at Old Trafford. United, on current form, is the weakest side left in the Champions League.
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Bayern, despite the presence of a new coach, has serenely negotiated their way to this point of the season with only the occasional flicker of uncertainty. At the 'Theatre of Dreams', this season of transition has been more traumatic than anyone expected.
Where the Bavarians have strength in depth incomparable to any other European team and are resting players as often as they feel like, United was reliant on a 40-year-old Ryan Giggs to see it through the most important game of 2014.
The contrasting form and fortunes at these two clubs could scarcely differ more, and it would be a myopic Manchester United fan predicting anything other than elimination at the last eight.
Consider the heavy work United made of Olympiakos in Greece for a sense of what lies in store. Granted, it did well to turn the game around, but nobody really expected the Greek champions to present any sort of an obstacle to the Premier League titleholders. But with Olympiakos now knocked out, it is the English side which is now the 'gimmie' draw.
The only danger for Bayern is overstimating the ease with which ut will come through this time. Its Champions League program has feauted bouts of complacency and when the team is in a rut during a game, it can take a while for the German outfit to snap out of it. Guardiola will need to be on his guard alongside Matthias Sammer on the bench to ensure Bayern doesn't let up during the course of 180 minutes.
For Moyes, this draw can only have a positive effect. The level of expectation will be zero and so by overcoming Bayern, he buys himself additional credit. Lose without being humiliated and he will have fulfilled what is expected of him.
Elsewhere in the draw, an intriguing tie is Paris St-Germain against Chelsea. PSG, for all its domestic dominance and commendable European progress, has yet to find its way past a genuine Champions League heavyweight in a knockout round. This is a huge test of the credentials of Laurent Blanc's side, which has enough talent in its ranks to be a match for any team.
On form and ability, this is a tough one to call. Jose Mourinho wil be quietly confident of snaffling a crucial away goal and finishing the job at Stamford Bridge.
Barcelona has played Atletico Madrid three times this season and is yet to win. Diego Simeone, provided he has a fully fit contingent to call upon, will fancy his chances of preparing a fresh blueprint for success against a Blaugrana side which has blown hot and cold at times.
As bad as things are for Manchester United, a thought too should be spared for Borussia Dortmund. It's fair to say not many people expected Jurgen Klopp's men to overcome Real Madrid at the semifinal stage last year, but they nonetheless did just that. This year, though, they would appear to be without a prayer.
The side has not been at its best this season, in the league or in Europe. The attacking strength of Real Madrid, featuring the immense Cristiano Ronaldo, will prove too difficult to handle.