The prospect of Manchester City facing incoming boss Pep Guardiola and his Bayern Munich team is of no issue to Manuel Pellegrini.
Friday’s Champions League quarter-final draw promises to throw up plenty of mouth-watering ties, including the possibility of Guardiola meeting up with his future employers City.
Pellegrini is leaving the Etihad Stadium in the summer but he has guided the Blues to this stage for the first time and could come up against Guardiola, who it was revealed last month would succeed the Chilean at City.
Bayern came through a scintillating tie against Juventus with an extra-time victory on Wednesday night, with Guardiola striving to end his stay in Germany by winning the Champions League – something he has yet to achieve with the Bavarians.
For Pellegrini, the chance to put one over his successor would no doubt appeal, and the Chilean insisted earlier in the week he would have no concerns coming up against Bayern despite winning just one of their four recent meetings.
“Facing him would not be a problem, no,” Pellegrini told the Sunday Mirror.
“First of all, we have to see the draw. All of them (the quarter-finalists) are very good but I prefer to avoid two or three teams, although I won’t tell you which ones. You can guess..”
Bayern are in bullish mood after their recovery against Juve, with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer telling the German federation’s official website www.dfb.de: “I think the better team has reached the quarter-finals. We can now see what happens next and I’m also thinking that no team will want Bayern (in the draw).”
It could be a reunion with Barcelona rather than a tie against City that awaits Guardiola in the next round after the Catalan giants saw off Arsenal in the round of 16.
Luis Enrique is now the man in the dugout at the Nou Camp and he has masterminded a 38-game unbeaten run across all competitions and can call upon the stellar strike force of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, a trio with 106 goals between them this season.
Barcelona are also looking to become the first team to defend the European Cup in the Champions League era and Enrique is happy to take on all comers.
“The only team I don’t want to face is Barca, and it’s a certainty that we won’t,” he said after a 3 1 victory over the Gunners on Wednesday saw them comfortably through to the last eight.
“Obviously we have unique players but in the end the great thing about this team is they work collectively in both attack and defence.”
Spain have two other representatives in Friday’s draw, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
Real, 10-time winners of the European Cup, squeezed past Roma to get through with coach Zinedine Zidane no doubt dreaming of leading the club to an 11th crown, having scored a memorable winning goal to deliver their ninth back in 2002.
It was city rivals Atletico who Real beat in Lisbon to win ‘La Decima’ in May 2014 and the pair could come up against each other again this year.
Diego Simeone’s side are out-performing Real in the league but needed a penalty shoot-out to see off PSV Eindhoven in the round of 16 following the first-ever Champions League tie to finish goalless over both legs.
Paris St Germain, meanwhile, can turn their full attention to winning their first European Cup with Laurent Blanc’s side having already wrapped up the Ligue 1 title in style.
Inspired by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG secured the crown last weekend with a 9-0 hammering of Troyes and will now be looking to complete their transition into a continental super-power having knocked Chelsea out in the previous round.
The two outsiders are Wolfsburg and Benfica, and although neither will be taken lightly the big-hitters will surely be hoping to be drawn against them.
Dieter Hecking’s Wolfsburg saw off Gent, as expected, in the round of 16, but are languishing down in eighth in the Bundesliga and have lost nine of their 26 league games this season.
Benfica beat Zenit St Petersburg to reach this stage for the first time since 2012, having been eliminated at the group stage for the past three years.