Real Madrid v Bayern Munich
A meeting between two of European football's genuine heavyweights, and a clash between two of Europe's most respected coaches, in Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola. Both have won this competition twice as a coach (not to mentioning triumphing as a player too) but surprisingly this will be their first meeting as opposition managers.
Bayern appear the more complete side. Real have occasionally played extraordinarily efficient counterattacking football this season, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale playing on opposite flanks. However, there remains a concern about whether they're strong enough in midfield, where Xabi Alonso sits behind Ángel Di María and Luka Modric. Ancelotti has always favoured technical midfields but he lacks a terrier to compete physically.
Bayern aren't necessarily renowned for their strength and are evidently an excellent technical side. But the power of players such as Thomas Müller, Javi Martínez and Mario Mandzukic – and even Toni Kroos, an excellent passer but 6ft 0in and extremely strong too – shouldn't be underestimated. Perhaps the question is whether Guardiola chooses to maximise his side's physical advantage in midfield.
Last season's Bayern side were more pragmatic, happy to bully inferior opponents, or sit back and counterattack when required, such as in the 7-0 aggregate thrashing of Barcelona at the semi-final stage. Guardiola could be keener to make this a technical, tactical battle – Bayern would still have the upper hand, but it wouldn't expose Real's limitations so much.
With Ronaldo, Bale, Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben on the flanks, a crucial feature will be those players' tendency to all collect the ball in wide positions, before cutting inside and shooting powerfully. In turn, space should open up for the attacking full-backs on both sides to overlap – assuming Guardiola doesn't replicate his experiment of playing his two full-backs in midfield, as he did against Manchester United this week.
Key battle Cristiano Ronaldo v Philipp Lahm
Prediction Bayern to emerge victorious in a fast-paced, technical contest
Chelsea v Atlético Madrid
The controversy surrounding Thibaut Courtois' potential participation will inevitably dominate the buildup but this should be a fascinating tactical battle between two extremely well-organised sides.
Atlético defeated Chelsea 4-1 in the European Super Cup last season but both sides have changed significantly since then – and Atlético are a much better unit.
Diego Simeone's side have played a counterattacking style throughout this season's European Cup, sitting back in deep positions before suddenly pressing with terrifying intensity once the opposition play the ball into the midfield zone. They're extremely compact without possession, with the strikers Diego Costa and David Villa dropping back behind the opposition's holding midfielders. The defenders and midfielders will focus on denying Chelsea's attacking midfielders space between the lines.
Atlético also excel at attacking transitions, with the wide midfielders Koke and Arda Turan happy to muck in defensively, but capable of slaloming past opponents and playing neat combinations to work the ball forward towards the front two. The pace and power of Costa will be a huge factor against John Terry and Gary Cahill.
It's arguable that Chelsea's style will cause Atlético more problems than that of Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, their other two potential opponents at this stage. Atlético require the opposition to move forward and dominate possession to play their ideal attacking game, and against a cautious Chelsea side led by the wily José Mourinho, they might have to play more proactively.
Still, Atlético's squad is stronger than many suggest and they boast tactical variety, too. The victory over Barcelona shows that Brazilian-born Diego remains a dangerous playmaker, Adrian López a pacey, exciting reserve forward, and Raúl García a peculiar midfielder-cum-forward who has proved extremely useful with his aerial threat. Combine those options with such an incredible defensive understanding, and Atlético should start as favourites.
Key battle Diego Costa v John Terry
Prediction Atlético to win a cautious tie by a narrow margin