Guardiola gets Madridistas' blood pumping
The draw was made and the result sent a jolt up the spine of Real Madrid fans.
The prospect of facing Pep Guardiola will have Madridistas' blood pumping, and not only because of his political position on Catalunya – although there is that too.
But that came after he had become the arch enemy as head of his newly constructed Barcelona side, which plunged Madrid into such bewilderment that it fell into the hands of Mourinho. That slow and precise football, preached by Guardiola, became sickeningly sweet on the tongue of Madrid, who also had to endure the same style with La Roja.
The game between Madrid and City is the star of the last 16 fixtures, but not too far behind is that between Atlético and Liverpool. Liverpool will be a tough sword to swallow for an Atléti side still “in transition”, as their coach Diego Simeone has himself said.
Liverpool is the best team in Europe at the moment, with its ferocious offering of nuclear intensity that makes the ‘tiki-taka’ system now seem like something of the distant past. It is bad luck for Atléti, who, in addition, will have to play the second leg away from home, as will Madrid.
The Italians have painted a better picture for Barcelona and Valencia, who face somewhat more manageable opposition in Napoli and Atalanta, respectively.
Getafe, Sevilla, Espanyol
The Europa League Round of 32 is lit up by the meeting of Getafe and Ajax. Getafe deserve the prize of a knock-out fixture and the way they are playing, José Bordalás’ side are capable of anything.
For Sevilla it is the Romanian outfit Cluj, while Espanyol, currently poor domestically but strong in Europe, come up against an old force of times past in Wolves – a lower kind of ‘Clásico’ that grants prestige to those who win it.
It is not overly optimistic to expect that – if not all seven – at least five of our seven clubs come through.
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