Málaga v Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund will start as overwhelming favourites – but Málaga were considered outsiders in a group containing Zenit St Petersburg and Milan, then battled back from a 1-0 first leg defeat in Porto in order to reach this stage. Manuel Pellegrini, an intelligent but incredibly relaxed, patient manager, has assembled a unified, motivated group of players that will fancy their chances of an upset.
The creative midfielder Isco, yet another versatile Spanish playmaker capable of fantastic long-range strikes, is the main attraction, but Málaga also have experience, with players such as Martin Demichelis, Jérémy Toulalan and Julio Baptista. They took a chance on the right-winger Joaquin and the mobile forward Javier Saviola – both highly rated a decade ago, but unable to fulfil their vast potential at major Spanish clubs – and have been rewarded with fine performances.
Dortmund are a tremendous side, but not without their problems – pace in behind the otherwise excellent Mats Hummels is an obvious route of attack, Isco may find space between the lines to create (as Toni Kroos and Julian Draxler have against Dortmund recently), while in last weekend's defeat to Schalke Dortmund were destroyed down the flanks. Jürgen Klopp's side should progress, but Málaga are exactly the type of side that will cause them difficulties.
Real Madrid v Galatasaray
José Mourinho's side benefited from an easy draw against the Cypriot side Apoel Nicosia last season, and for a second consecutive season will face the weakest team at the quarter-final stage. Fatih Terim is a very brave tactician but you wonder whether he might be too adventurous against a Real Madrid side that excel on the counterattack. The January purchases of Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba have forced Terim to cram both into the same side, along with the joint Champions League top scorer Burak Yilmaz. Terim has tried a 4-4-2 with Sneijder on the left, but against Schalke in midweek he selected a midfield diamond, with the Dutchman in his preferred No10 role.
Regardless of the formation, Galatasaray will struggle to hold back the tide. The job of stopping Cristiano Ronaldo will fall to Emmanuel Eboué, while the former Liverpool winger Albert Riera is used at left-back and will face the tricky Angel Di María. Both full-backs are admirably attack-minded, but Real will punish them at attacking transitions.
Much focus will be on Mesut Ozil – German-born, but of Turkish descent. "My technique and feeling for the ball is the Turkish side to my game," he once said. Having been booed by Turkey fans in an international fixture in 2010 for allegedly turning his back on the country, he will expect similar treatment at the Ali Sami Yen stadium.
Paris Saint-Germain v Barcelona
Carlo Ancelotti will be studying the video of his former club Milan's first leg performance against Barcelona, examining how they prevented Barcelona playing incisive passes into the final third. But it's doubtful whether PSG have the required discipline to thwart Barça – Ancelotti has tried to cram his expensive attacking talents into the same side, but PSG haven't looked cohesive enough against top sides this season.
The return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be the headline story, but if anyone's out for revenge against his former club, it will be Thiago Motta. The last time the Brazilian returned to the Camp Nou, he was dismissed in the first half of Inter's successful bus-parking exercise under Mourinho, a victim of Sergio Busquets's extravagant play-acting. Motta will be crucial in occupying the space Lionel Messi loves to work in – the highly rated Marco Verratti is a talented ball-player, but remains defensively unimpressive.
What PSG do possess, however, is pace on the counterattack. Ezequiel Lavezzi will battle against Daniel Alves, probably replicating the role Stephan El Shaarawy played in Milan's 2-0 win over Barça. Jérémy Ménez, Javier Pastore and Lucas Moura also offer great dribbling ability, but PSG will have serious problems competing in the centre of midfield.
Bayern Munich v Juventus
This is unquestionably the tie of the quarter-final stage, an exciting clash between two imminent league champions. These clubs last met in the group stage of 2009-10, when Bayern recorded a superb 4-1 victory on Turin to qualify for the knockout stages at the expense of Juve – a result that meant Louis van Gaal kept his job, and contributed to Ciro Ferrara losing his.
These are two contrasting teams – Jupp Heynckes's Bayern are a typical modern side based around intricate passing in a 4-2-3-1 system, remaining compact without the ball and often pressing well. Juve are something of an anomaly in this competition, favouring a 3-5-2 system with rampaging wing-backs and a traditional strike duo up front.
The midfield battle will be extraordinarily intense – Andrea Pirlo remains Juventus' key player in his classic deep-lying playmaker role, and will be up against Bayern's Toni Kroos. When those two met in last year's Euro 2012 semi-final, Kroos allowed Pirlo too much time on the ball, allowing him to launch accurate passes in the final third. Meanwhile, the powerful duo of Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vital will battle against Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martínez – aside from Barcelona, these are the two best midfield trios in Europe.
Michael Cox is the editor of tactics website zonalmarking.net
• This article was amended on 15 March 2013 because the original said Borussia Dortmund were managed by Jogi Löw rather than Jürgen Klopp