Manchester United may have clawed their way back from a 2-0 deficit against Olympiacos to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but even the steadfast of their fans would not expect them to go any further.
That’s because between them and a place in the last four of Europe’s premier club competition stand Bayern Munich, who have been absolutely imperious this season.
The Bavarian giants have already sewn up the Bundesliga title, their 3-1 away victory over Hertha Berlin in midweek proving enough for them to win the championship for the second season in a row with seven rounds of matches remaining.
Pep Guardiola’s side have broken records after records in the German top flight and have also exhibited their class in Europe, easing past Premier League outfit Arsenal 3-1 on aggregate in the last 16 of the Champions League.
The defending European champions will be heavy favourites to get the better of United in the last eight, and their task will be aided by the fact that the first leg will be at Old Trafford.
The first leg of their last-16 tie against Arsenal was also away from home: Bayern won 2-0 and effectively clinched the two-legged affair.
However, Juan Mata, who is cup-tied for the Champions League this season having already featured for Chelsea in the competition before his January move to the Red Devils, is confident that David Moyes’s team can get the better of the German giants.
The Spain international is aware of the attacking prowess of Bayern, but points out that in 2011-12, it was Chelsea who reached the final, despite Barcelona and Real Madrid being favourites to do so.
“People are saying how Bayern are going to score a lot of goals, but let’s try to avoid that,” the 25-year-old midfielder told The Mirror. “I think we can, I really do.
“Every game is different. Right now Bayern are the favourites, they have the pressure to try to win, so we will try to avoid that and try to change what everyone is thinking about the chances we have to qualify.
“Why not? I remember my first season at Chelsea, when we beat Barcelona to reach the Champions League final. Everyone was talking about a Barcelona and Real Madrid final, and at the end it was Bayern Munich and Chelsea, so you never know what can happen.”