MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Six past winners, three domestic league leaders and many of the world's best players take their places this week in one of the strongest quarterfinal lineups in the 22-year history of the Champions League.
There appears to be no weak link in the last eight, with Manchester United unlikely to be written off by quarterfinal opponent and reigning champion Bayern Munich despite a disappointing Premier League season in the post-Alex Ferguson era.
Barcelona and Atletico Madrid meet in a matchup between Spain's current top two teams, nine-time European champion Real Madrid aims to avenge last season's semifinal defeat to Borussia Dortmund while Paris Saint-Germain takes on Chelsea.
Here is a lookahead to this week's first legs in the Champions League quarterfinals:
MANCHESTER UNITED-BAYERN MUNICH
United comes into Tuesday's match on the back of a big win in the Premier League. Bayern heads to Old Trafford off a disappointing draw in the Bundesliga.
Don't be fooled, though — that's hardly a representation of their respective seasons.
While Bayern has breezed to the German championship with two months to spare, United has endured a woeful season under David Moyes in the defense of its English title and is languishing in seventh place in the standings.
United, which needs to win the Champions League to secure a return to the competition next season, has saved some of its best performances for Europe but will rarely have been a bigger underdog going into a home-and-away matchup.
Bayern has already handsomely beaten Manchester City and Arsenal on trips to England this season and its attacking power should be too much for United's flaky defense.
Despite their contrasting styles, it's tough to have a more evenly matched pairing than Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
The two sides have already met three times this season and neither has been able to emerge victorious. They drew twice in the season-opening Spanish Super Cup (1-1 at the Vicente Calderon, 0-0 at Camp Nou), with Barcelona claiming the title on away goals, and then again (0-0 at Atletico) in the league.
Tuesday's first leg at Camp Nou will pit the Spanish league leader in Atletico with its nearest chaser as Barcelona trails by one point with seven rounds to go. The two will meet a sixth time this season in the final round of La Liga, which — if neither drop points until then — would decide the title.
Both teams enter on winning streaks and with red-hot strikers — Lionel Messi has scored 36 goals in all competitions for Barca this season and Diego Costa has netted 33 times for Atletico.