Munich - The UEFA Champions League is upon us once again, with a record four Bundesliga sides occupying a quarter of the berths in the knockout stages of Europe's leading club competition.

Yet what are the chances of Germany's top-flight teams making up half of the field in the quarter-finals? Can the Bundesliga clubs continue to blaze a trail in Europe, or is the last eight a bridge too far? assesses the prospects of holders FC Bayern München, last year's beaten finalists Borussia Dortmund and fellow challengers Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Schalke 04, who will all be looking to keep the Bundesliga's flag flying high over the coming weeks.

No club have ever successfully defended their Champions League crown, but few have been in a better position to do so than Bayern. After a seamless transition from Jupp Heynckes to Pep Guardiola, the Bavarians seem to be going from strength to strength and having asserted their authority once again on the domestic front, they continue to make waves in Europe. Arsenal FC are their opponents, just like they were a year ago when the English Premier League side came closer than anybody to eliminating the Bavarians. Form favours Bayern, who have not lost in 46 Bundesliga matches and won five out of six group games, although defeat to Manchester City FC on Matchday 6 suggests they cannot take anything for granted, especially against English opposition.

An unfancied Dortmund reached the final in style last May and they will be bidding to go one better this year by lifting the trophy for the first time since 2002. Injuries have proven to be their Achilles heel this season, however, and the threadbare nature of Jürgen Klopp's squad could impact their European prospects. However, having won a group of death that included Arsenal and SSC Napoli, they will fear nobody in the competition this year, not least opponents Zenit Saint Petersburg. If they can remain injury-free for the rest of the campaign, and get Ilkay Gündogan back to full fitness, a trip to Lisbon in May could crown a season which, though unlikely to end in Bundesliga glory, could yet be one to remember for Jürgen Klopp and his players.

Leverkusen go into their tie with Paris Saint-Germain as clear underdogs to a club who, according to Bayer coach Sami Hyypiä, have "brought in a lot of top-class players" in recent years. The current Ligue 1 leaders may be favourites, but Leverkusen's experience in the competition - and on the bench - could well be their trump card. Sami Hyypiä knows what it takes to win this Champions League, having done so against all odds with Liverpool FC in 2005. Leverkusen also have a point to prove after being unceremoniously dumped out of the competition by FC Barcelona two years ago. Die Werkself are determined to prove they belong in the knockout stages of the competition, and upsetting the French champions is far from beyond a team who lost only to Manchester United FC in during the group stage.

Schalke face arguably an even bigger task than Leverkusen a week on Wednesday when they meet one of the title favourites Real Madrid CF. However, the Royal Blues have transformed since the turn of the year and with four straight Bundesliga wins under their belt, Jens Keller's men are in the best form of their season so far. What is more, Real have won only once on German soil in their history, and Schalke's recent European record proves they are no pushovers – just ask FC Internazionale Milano, who succumbed to a 7-3 aggregate defeat to the Royal Blues in the 2010/11 quarter-finals. Former Real forward has rediscovered his form after injury, is pulling the strings in midfield and Julian Draxler could be in line for a return against the Spanish giants.