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Real Madrid vs. Manchester City.

The all-time kings of Europe take on the current holders in the standout tie of the Champions League quarterfinals.

For the third year running Madrid and City meet in a match-up in which the winner has gone on to lift the trophy in the past two seasons. And it would be difficult to look beyond either team going on to continue that streak this time around.

City is still in contention for back-to-back trebles after winning the Premier League title, Champions League and FA Cup last year.

Madrid, reinvigorated by the signing of Jude Bellingham last summer, is eight points clear at the top of the Spanish league and aiming for a record-extending 15th European Cup title.

Champions League 2023-24 quarterfinal: Real Madrid faces Man City; PSG, Barca square off

The Spanish giant also has a point to prove after being routed 4-0 by City in the second leg of last year’s semifinals.

Then it was City who had a score to settle, having suffered a late collapse at the Bernabeu to crash out in the semifinals in 2022.

Manager Pep Guardiola will likely know how motivated Madrid will be to exact revenge — just as his players were last year — and that adds a subplot to a tie that is already heavy on intrigue.

Elsewhere, Paris Saint-Germain versus Barcelona is another clash of heavyweights, with Kylian Mbappe aiming to finally lead the French champions to European club soccer’s elite trophy before walking away at the end of the season.

Premier League title-chasing Arsenal takes on a Bayern Munich team that is limping towards the end of a miserable campaign in the German league, while Atletico Madrid faces Borussia Dortmund.

REAL DEAL?

Madrid has all its attacking players clicking.

Bellingham has struck 20 goals in 32 games this season, including four in the Champions League. Vinicius Junior is peaking just in time to face City with five goals in his last three appearances. Brahim Diaz provides a spark off the bench. And Rodyrgo ended a six-week scoring drought in Madrid’s last game, a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao, to keep it on course for winning the domestic league title.

Madrid is on a 27-game unbeaten run at its Santiago Bernabeu Stadium across all competitions dating back to last April.

City has found its scoring form over the past week after hitting four goals in each of its games against Aston Villa and Crystal Palace to stay on the heels of title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal.

ENRIQUE REUNION

After a difficult start to his coaching career at PSG, when he had to put up with Mbappe’s bitter contract saga, Luis Enrique has steadily won over fans and the French media – even if it meant dropping Mbappe or taking him off in games.

Enrique won the treble as Barcelona coach in 2015 with Lionel Messi in his team and is still in contention to do the same at PSG with Mbappe.

Losing has become a distant memory for PSG, which is undefeated in 27 matches since a loss away to AC Milan in November during the Champions League group stage. But playing a rested Barcelona side could be the toughest test of the season.

Xavi Hernandez attempted to shock his team into getting its act together by saying he would quit at the end of the season, something that has coincided with a certain improvement.

Barcelona has gone unbeaten in 11 straight games since Xavi said in late January that he was renouncing the final year of his contract.

Robert Lewandowski, teenager Lamine Yamal and Raphinha are all playing well of late, but the midfield is a big question mark due to injury concerns.

TUCHEL TROUBLE

Bayern Coach Thomas Tuchel wants to end a “frustrating” season, and his tenure, on a high with a trip to Wembley for the Champions League final. But its preparation for Arsenal could hardly have been worse after its latest defeat, this time to Heidenheim on Saturday after leading 2-0.

“There’s still the goal of going to Wembley,” Tuchel said Friday. “Everything is being put toward this target. It can’t happen that we ease off even 1% in our conviction or in our ambition.”

The mood at Arsenal is very different with Mikel Arteta’s team looking better equipped to last the course in the race for the title this year after a late collapse last season.

The Champions League run feels like an unexpected bonus, but victory against Bayern will strengthen belief that a trophy double could be on.

ATLETICO SLUMP

Atletico has slumped in recent weeks, with six losses and only four wins in its last 12 games overall, as it missed the goals and creativity of Antoine Griezmann. The France forward is now back playing and will be looking for his first goal since January 18.

Diego Simeone’s side was enjoying a 25-game unbeaten run at its Metropolitano Stadium until Barcelona delivered a 3-0 rout at Atletico on March 27.

Dortmund has generally saved its best for the Champions League this season. It isn’t a Bundesliga contender this year, but wins over Newcastle, AC Milan and most recently PSV Eindhoven have shown it means business in Europe.





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