Champions League: The eight contenders

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Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Malaga, Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray, Juventus, Paris St Germain - the Champions League quarter-final stage is set. The draw is ready to be made.

The previous round purged the competition of the British contingent, casting aside Arsenal, Celtic and Manchester United.

Instead, we have three Spanish teams, two German, an Italian, French, and a Turkish. And one wide open tournament. 

Real Madrid and Barcelona are many people's favourites, while the tag of 'dark horse' can be equally applied to Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Paris St Germain.

Galatasaray and Malaga will look to the experience of Monaco and Porto in 2004, PSV Eindhoven in 2005, Villarreal in 2006, Lyon in 2010 and Schalke in 2011.

Let's take a closer look at the eight remaining Champions League teams…

Real Madrid

Key man: Cristiano Ronaldo

Manager: Jose Mourinho

Keep an eye on: Raphael Varane

Chance of success: Excellent. Jose Mourinho has previous when it comes to walk-off Champions League success - see Porto and Inter Milan - and he'd love to do it again this season.

A tricky group was negotiated, and the toughest last-16 match-up of the round was overcome. Their experience at Old Trafford and the Etihad Stadium should stand them in good stead, and in Cristiano Ronaldo they have the competition's second-best match-winner.


Key man: Lionel Messi

Manager: Tito Vilanova

Keep an eye on: Christian Tello

Chance of success: Favourite. Their 4-0 triumph at the Nou Camp was historic and brilliant. It was Barca back to their best. It was enough to make me think they can win a third Champions League in five years.

With Messi, anything is possible. They made hard work of an average AC Milan side, and it's hard to forget their struggles in the first-leg. But that just might have been the wake up call they needed.

Paris St-Germain

Key man: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Manager: Carlo Ancelotti

Keep an eye on: Lucas Moura

Chance of success: Outside chance. PSG are looking for their first European success since they won the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2001.

This season might come one too soon for a rapidly improving (and with no thanks to heavy investment in the playing staff) PSG team, ably guided by a former Champions League winner in Ancelotti.

Zlatan is a constant threat, and Lucas Moura, Javier Pastore and Ezequiel Lavezzi are three of the most dangerous attackers in the competition. With Thiago Silva anchoring the defence and David Beckham off the bench, would you really write them off?

Borussia Dortmund

Key man: Robert Lewandowski

Manager: Jurgen Klopp

Keep an eye on: Mario Gotze

Chance of success: Possible, but improbable. The reigning Bundesliga champions are hugely entertaining to watch, and strolled through the Group of Death before dispatching a much-fancied Shakhtar Donetsk side in the last-16.

But their inconsistent Bundesliga form leads to doubts here. Robert Lewandowski, Mario Gotze and Marco Reus is as formidable an attacking trio as any, but their defence - they've conceded three times as many league goals as Bayern Munich - could be their undoing here.


Key man: Isco

Manager: Manuel Pellegrini

Keep an eye on: Roque Santa Cruz

Chance of success: Slim. The threat of expulsion from next year's competition has done little to dent Malaga's enthusasism for this year's tournament.

Unbeaten in the group stages, they overcame a talented Porto side in the last-16. With Isco pulling the strings, and a water-tight defence - they've conceded less La Liga goals than Barcelona, and the same amount as Real Madrid - they have their eye on a semi-final spot.


Key man: Arturo Vidal

Manager: Antonio Conte

Keep an eye on: Paul Pogba

Chance of success: Good. Serie 'A''s best defence and second-best attack has strolled through the competition with 19 goals scored and just four conceded.

In Serie 'A' they're nine points clear, and they deserve a place among Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich as one of the favourites.

But the lack of a recognised goalscorer could come back to bite them this season - their top scorer in the league has just seven goals this term.


Key man: Didier Drogba

Manager: Fatih Terim

Keep an eye on: Burak Yilmaz

Chance of success: See Malaga. Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder were brought in to see off Schalke but it was a couple of old boys - Yilmaz and Hamit Altintop - that did the trick.

Drogba and Sneijder should improve as fitness levels rise, and no-one will fancy an away trip to Turkey, but just reaching the semi-finals would be seen as a huge achievement.

Bayern Munich

Key man: Bastian Schweinsteiger

Manager: Jupp Heynckes

Keep an eye on: David Alaba

Chance of success: Excellent. 20 points clear in the Bundesliga, top scorers in the Champions League group stages, just 10 goals conceded in 25 Bundesliga fixtures. Favourites?

But their only blot, a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal, raises questions about their big-game nerve. Has last year's final defeat left lasting scars?

Because this squad is certainly capable of winning it all.

Who do you think will win it all? Join the debate and leave your choice in the comment box below...

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