Diego Simeone

Simeone to get another one over Real
After so many years of struggling against their city rivals, Atletico Madrid have begun to get the better of Real in recent years since the near miraculous work of manager Diego Simeone. Atletico haven’t lost in any of their six meetings against them so far this season – yes, it’s already been six – although that still wouldn’t have healed the wounds left by the Champions League Final defeat suffered at the end of the last campaign. Simeone seems to have Carlo Ancelotti’s number this term and he’ll need all of his nous in the first of these quarter final ties this evening. The first leg is at the Vicente Calderon stadium and if Atletico are to make progress than they must gain some sort of lead in this game. The crowd will certainly be behind the team in search of some genuine revenge for last May, and Simeone’s side will fancy their chances tonight at least. JW

Pirlo to lead a crucial Juve push
Andrea Pirlo looks set to return for Juventus tonight as they aim to sweep aside French side Monaco in the hunt for a first Champions League semi-final since 2003. The legendary midfielder has been sidelined for several weeks with a calf injury but has been passed fit by the club physio to feature in tonight’s crucial tie. The boost of the return of Pirlo will help soften the blow Juventus fans will feel hearing that their young star Paul Pogba is set to miss tonight with a hamstring injury. Pirlo hasn’t featured for Juventus since the first leg of the Serie A side’s victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last 16 but is likely to be thrown straight back into the fray following Juventus’ surprise league loss to bottom of the table Parma on the weekend. BF

Bale to return with renewed energy
Booed earlier this year by his own fans for essentially playing like a £60m player rather than a £85m one, Gareth Bale must have had flashbacks to his early days at Tottenham Hotspur, when the club couldn’t win whenever he played for several months and he took the flak. The Welshman missed the league win on the weekend with a thigh strain but he will be fully fit tonight for the trip across Madrid, and he will have a crucial role in the evening’s proceedings. It was Bale’s goal that put his club in front in the Champions League Final against tonight’s opponents and he will relish the derby atmosphere again. While he may not have the supernatural goal record of Cristiano Ronaldo, which appears to be the reason for the criticism directed at him, a key moment from Bale to turn the tie in Real’s favour tonight will do much to make him untouchable again with supporters, and he will certainly know it. JW

One step too far for Monaco
After their rather surprising win over Arsenal over two legs in the last round of the Champions League, Monaco are considered one of the weaker sides left in the competition as they prepare to cause yet another upset against a Juventus side top of Serie A by 22 points and with only one loss in any of their last 11 European games at home. The Champions League runners up in 2004 will face a tough tie against an in-form Juventus and will know that they will need to better their poor record of only seven goals in eight games in his season’s competition if they are to stand a chance of proving the critics wrong and progressing to the semi-finals. Despite their surprise win over Arsenal, it will take a monumental effort from Monaco to see off yet another European juggernaut in Juventus. Not that it’s not possible. BF

A full assault from Atletico
There’s still time for a dramatic turn in the title race, but La Liga holders Atletico Madrid don’t look to be especially in contention for retaining the trophy. The side trail their Madrid rivals by seven points (and leaders Barcelona by eight) so the Champions League may well be a priority for the rest of the season. A local derby always asks for 100% effort from the teams involved – not least by the supporters – and rarely requires additional context to be a spectacle, but with Atletico able to fully focus on this it should prove quite a tough test for Real. The visitors have a full strength squad to pick from for the first time in several months, but Atletico can also call on a fit-again Mario Mandzukic – twice a scorer against Real this season – while Raul Garcia is expected to feature after an injury scare. Real will likely have the second leg in mind but for tonight Atletico will do what it takes to reign supreme.