Napoli are your NEW Champions League favourites! Winners and losers of the quarter-final draw as Man City, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are placed in the same half
The quarter-final draw for the Champions League never disappoints!
On Friday morning, two of the favourites were paired with one another, with Manchester City set to battle Bayern Munich for a place in the last four.
Meanwhile, reigning champions Real Madrid will once again face Chelsea and the hope is that their tie will be just as dramatic as last season's quarter-final clash.
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On the other half of the draw, runaway Italian league leaders Napoli will take on compatriots AC Milan, with another Serie A side, Inter, will place this season's surprise package, Benfica.
Below, GOAL runs through all of the winners and losers of Friday's draw...
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WINNER: Serie A
Italians in general are quite a superstitious bunch and Friday the 17th is their version of Friday the 13th, so the date of the draw didn't seem to bode well for Serie A sides.
It couldn't have gone any better, though.
Indeed, Alessandro Costacurta, the former Italy defender now working as a pundit for Sky Sport Italia, was so delighted that he praised Hamit Altintop and Patrick Kluivert for their work during the draw.
Napoli being paired with AC Milan means that Serie A is guaranteed at least one side in the semis, where we could even see an all-Italian affair given Inter have a decent chance of beating Benfica.
Nobody will be taking anything for granted, of course. Italians hate to tempt fate. But everyone is rightly revelling in the fact that Serie A could easily have a Champions League finalist for the first time since 2017...
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And a betting man would put money on that finalist being Napoli.
The Partenopei are the best team in Italy right now, and by some distance. Their 18-point lead at the summit of Serie A is no fluke. They are playing with a quality and a consistency that has left the likes of Milan and Inter trailing in their wake.
Napoli have also already beaten the Rossoneri this season, triumphing 2-1 at San Siro back in September, so they have nothing to fear from Stefano Pioli's side.
On the contrary, it is Milan and the rest of Europe who should be worried right now.
Pep Guardiola may have been partaking in some mind games when he labelled Napoli the best team on the continent but there is no denying the strength of their squad.
They are well-stacked in defence, midfield and attack, with Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia arguably the most dynamic attacking duo in world football.
What's more, Luciano Spalletti will be in a position to rest players either side of their European fixtures given the size of their Serie A lead.
Napoli may be playing in the quarter-finals for the first time. But there's no longer any reason why they can't go all the way this year.
LOSER: Man City's workload
Speaking of Guardiola, the Manchester City manager has admitted that his entire tenure will be judged on whether or not he wins the Champions League. Doing so this year just got a whole lot more difficult.
Real Madrid may be the reigning champions but Bayern Munich were arguably the side that everyone wanted to avoid, given the way in which the Bavarians disposed of Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 with the minimum of fuss.
To make matters worse, City will have to travel to the Allianz Arena for the second leg.
Then, there's the fact that even if City go through, they will have to go up against either Madrid or Chelsea in the semi-finals.
The former eliminated Guardiola's side last year, while the latter upset them in the 2021 final.
City obviously have the talent, and the manager, to make it all the way to Istanbul but Friday's draw ensured that they're going to have to do it the hard way.
And that's hugely significant, not only for Guardiola and his Champions League dream, but also their hopes of overhauling Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table.
Reaching the final would almost certainly take an awful lot out of City...
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WINNER: Benfica's business model
Don't sleep on Benfica. Seriously. Club Brugge may not have been the most difficult last-16 opponent but the Eagles dispatched the Belgians in some style, winning 7-1 on aggregate.
They deserved a favourable draw, too, having sensationally pipped Paris Saint-Germain to top spot in their group with a stunning 6-1 victory over Maccabi Haifa on matchday six.
As expected, Joao Mario's 92nd-minute strike at the Sammy Ofer Stadium really has proven the biggest sliding-door moments in this season's Champions League.
Indeed, Benfica are now perfectly placed to reach the semi-finals of the European Cup for the first time since 1990, which would be one hell of achievement after cashing in on Darwin Nunez last summer and then Enzo Fernandez in January.
Benfica's business model is yielding impressive returns on and off the field.
Their run certainly doesn't have to end here either. There is more money – and history – to be made, given their quarter-final opponents, Inter, have proven incredibly inconsistent this season.
It's also worth noting that Porto, as coach Sergio Conceicao pointed out, dominated large chunks of their last-16 tie with the Nerazzurri, only to lose 1-0 on aggregate.
And Benfica are a better side than their Portuguese rivals, as this season's Primeira Liga table underlines.
The sky's the limit for high-flying Eagles.
LOSER: Real Madrid's title defence
Carlo Ancelotti was understandably reluctant to get drawn into which sides he'd like to avoid in the last eight.
Real Madrid are Real Madrid, after all. This is their competition. It often doesn't matter how strong their opponents are; they just always find a way to win. It's what they do.
So, all Ancelotti said was he'd like to be able to play former club AC Milan in the final. That dream is still possible but Madrid have been presented with a perilous path to Istanbul.
Again, it has to be underlined that Real went through Chelsea and City to win last year's tournament and that was testament to their class, composure and remarkable resilience. But boy did they get some good fortune along the way!
They really should have been eliminated by PSG, Chelsea and City, while they only beat Liverpool in Paris thanks to an incredible display of shot-stopping from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
It's also worth pointing out that Madrid were performing a lot more consistently last season, particularly in La Liga, whereas this time around they need to beat Barcelona on Sunday to keep their slim title hopes alive.
Indeed, fail to win there and Madrid's season, and indeed Ancelotti's job, will hinge on their European campaign. Is that fair? Not really. But this is Madrid, where nothing less than success is tolerated.