The Champions League Quarter-Final draw is almost upon us. The last eight in Europe's golden competition begin to take shape as Goal.com takes a look at the matches to come...
This event will signal the beginning of the end for the 2010-11 iteration of Europe's premier club competition, with the path to the final being decided in full.
Eight clubs are left to vie for the title of Europe's best team, with the last two to qualify - Real Madrid and Chelsea - joining the pantheon on Wednesday evening.
A few key points about the upcoming draw:
- The draw is unseeded. No team is ranked above any other.
- The draw is completely free. In the previous round, teams from the same group and same confederations were kept apart: in this round they may meet without restriction.
- The rest of the tournament will be decided. As well as drawing the quarter-finals, the semi-finals and the final itself will be mapped out. As such each team will know the potential three matches they must win to hoist the trophy aloft at Wembley.
76 clubs from 52 countries started the tournament all the way back in June 2010, and now we're down to the final eight.
Of these, three are from the Premier League in England, Spain provides its 'big two', Italy sends reigning title-holders Inter to the last eight, and Germany and Ukraine also have one representative apiece.
Meet the contenders for the famous trophy...
|Barcelona||The best in the world, the best of all time, runaway favourites - it's all been said about this Barcelona side that has looked a class apart both in the group stages and against Arsenal in the Round of 16. Yet they have had some close calls and can look vulnerable - so can they be stopped?|
|Schalke||Despite struggling massively in the Bundesliga, Schalke remain in the competition after a convincing win over Valencia. Coach Felix Magath has since departed in extraordinary circumstances, and it remains to be seen how the Gelsenkirchen side can react to the off-field drama.
|Shakhtar||Shakhtar stunned Arsenal to win their group, thus setting up a clash with embattled Roma. The Ukrainians duly thrashed their opponents to advance to the last eight for the first time. Flying high domestically, the Miners are confident, brave, and scared of nobody.
|Tottenham||Perhaps one of the surprise packages so far, Spurs have demonstrated their European credentials by disposing of AC Milan. Couple that to a fine showing against Inter in the group stages and it's clear that the London side aren't afraid of dreaming of a further round of progression.|
|Inter||In the two-legged replay of last year's final, Inter pulled off an incredible 3-2 win in Munich to advance to the quarter-finals on away goals. The Italians showed tremendous spirit but questions must be asked of their defence, which must improve if they're to retain their trophy.
|Chelsea||Chelsea breezed through their group and made equally light work of Copenhagen, looking dominant in the absence of top-level competition. Domestically Chelsea remain off-form: not even £70m of spending on Fernando Torres and David Luiz has lessened the pressure on Carlo Ancelotti.|
|Real Madrid||The record holders have endured over half a decade of misery in Europe. But now the "curse" is over and Madrid are in the last eight. Jose Mourinho may or may not have made the difference but has the players to manage unprecedented back-to-back CL titles.|
| Man Utd
||Manchester United edged an exciting 2-1 victory over Marseille at Old Trafford to secure their own place in the last eight. Unbeaten so far in Europe, the Red Devils are in the midst of an injury crisis but have an excellent level of tenacity and attacking talent.
The Champions League draw is LIVE on Goal.com. Our coverage begins at 11:30 CET on Friday 18 March - in plenty of time before the draw itself begins - and will continue throughout the day.
But before that, join us on Thursday from 10:00 CET as we begin the most comprehensive build-up to the Champions League quarter-finals draw that you will find anywhere online. All the news, all the reactions and all the expert analysis will be right here, as your definitive guide to world football - don't miss out.