Before he can dream of lifting his first big-eared cup with City, Pep Guardiola will have to pass the hurdle of Bayern Munich, the new coach and rival of the Spaniard, Thomas Tuchel.
While at the head of Chelsea, the German coach had deprived "Pep" of a European title with City in May 2021 in Porto.
The arrival last summer of Erving Haaland, author of a historic quintuple in the eighth against Leipzig (7-0), could allow Guardiola to finally fill this gap. But he will first have to eliminate the Bavarians, solid and effective falls of Paris SG in eighth (0-1, 2-0).
Bayern, who have since lost their coach Julian Nagelsmann, dismissed and replaced by Tuchel, will have to do without their center forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, scorer against PSG but forfeit because of a knee problem.
Bayern Munich German football club coach Thomas Tuchel during a training session before the match against English club Manchester City in the quarter-final first leg of the Champions League in Munich on April 10, 2023. © Christof STACHE / AFP
Serge Gnabry could take the place of the former Parisian at the forefront of the attack, as was the case Saturday against Freiburg in the league (1-0). Tuchel could also trust veteran Thomas Müller.
Two other historic quarters
For Madrid, the defending champions, Wednesday's reception of Chelsea is a remake of last season's quarter-final: a memorable opposition for Karim Benzema's team, virtually eliminated until the 79th minute of the second leg at the Bernabeu stadium.
Spanish Real Madrid football club player Karim Benzema after scoring a goal against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey on April 5, 2023. © Pau BARRENA / AFP/Archives
It took a goal from Rodrygo to snatch extra time, then a goal from the inevitable Benzema to continue on their way to their 14th C1 title.
Since last season, the London team has changed significantly, boosted by recruits (Mudryk, Enzo Fernandez ...) and expenses without counting driven by the new American owner.
But the waltz of coaches has taken on surprising proportions: Tuchel, who had started the season, was replaced in September by Graham Potter, who took the door at the beginning of the month for insufficient results.
The interim was entrusted to Frank Lampard. But the return of the former player and ex-coach of the Blues has not yet had the expected impact with a defeat and a very poor performance this weekend on the lawn of Wolverhampton (1-0) on the 30th day of the Premier League.
In addition to these two shocks, the last two posters of the quarter-finals are certainly less flashy but still historic with Benfica-Inter Milan and AC Milan-Napoli.
Three Italian clubs - a first since 2006 - and a Portuguese team for a place in the final, it is very rare in recent seasons.
For Italy, we have to go back to 2017 and Juventus Turin to find a finalist. As for the Lusitano teams, they have been dreaming of finals since the title of FC Porto in 2004.
Napoli, qualified for the first quarter of its history and quiet leader of its championship, will have to master the reigning national champion Milan. And it will not be easy, as Olivier Giroud's team outclassed Napoli last week in Serie A, deprived of Victor Osimhen, top scorer.
Italian club AC Milan player Olivier Giroud before the Italian Serie A football league match against Empoli FC at the San Siro stadium on April 7, 2023. © GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
On Wednesday, the Rossoneri will be all the more excited as a Milan derby could await them in the semifinals, if Romelu Lukaku's Inter overcomes the Lisbon Benfica (out at the top of its group ahead of PSG).
But Inter, who fell to Porto in the knockout stages of C1 (1-0, 0-0), came to the Estadio da Luz in a rather worrying phase. The Italians have not known the taste of victory since March 5 and a success against Lecce in Serie A (2-0).
The program of the quarter-finals:
. Tuesday, April 11
(21:00) Benfica (POR) - Inter Milan (ITA)
(21:00) Manchester City (ENG) v Bayern Munich (GER)
. Wednesday, April 12
(21:00) Real Madrid (ESP) v Chelsea (ENG)
(21:00) AC Milan (ITA) - Napoli (ITA)
© 2023 AFP