We will learn the first UEFA Champions League quarterfinalists this midweek as the first batch of round of 16 second legs taking place across Europe with some intriguing scenarios in play. Despite the one-sided opening leg, Paris Saint-Germain against Barcelona will attract plenty of attention on Wednesday as Ronald Koeman’s men attempt to pull off another Remontada.
Borussia Dortmund continue to improve in attack, despite last weekend’s defeat to Bayern Munich, and Sevilla’s defensive might has crumbled at just the wrong time. Liverpool are desperate to keep their Champions League run going as things go from bad to worse domestically after another home loss and Juventus possess a valuable away goal as they welcome FC Porto to Turin.
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We look ahead to the best of this week’s Champions League action.
No Neymar for PSG vs. Barca
Barcelona have what looks like an insurmountable hill to climb as they head to Paris after losing 4-1 at home in Catalonia. We were deprived of a major headline for the first leg with Neymar out injured and the Brazilian superstar has not sufficiently recovered to in time to make his comeback against his former club.
Neymar, 29, cost the French giants $264 million back in 2017 and will not get the chance to line up against his ex-employer and old teammates such as Lionel Messi as speculation continues to swirl that PSG will make a move for the Argentina international this summer.
And then of course there’s Kylian Mbappe who ensured that there was no lack of world class talent on display at Camp Nou with a hat-trick to remind the world why he is still the top wonderkid of the world game, though Dortmund’s Erling Haaland runs him close, and will be the star turn again on Wednesday.
Even if Barcelona can’t do the impossible there will be no shortage of quality on display in Paris.
Determined Dortmund host shaky Sevilla
The Spaniards were the form team coming into their home leg and the Germans were struggling but Haaland changed that with two goals and an assist in a 3-2 win in Seville for Edin Terzic’s men and now they are favorites to advance.
BVB have improved since with big wins over bitter rivals Schalke 04 and Arminia Bielefeld in the Bundesliga and then a narrow victory over Borussia Monchengladbach in the DFB Pokal, their record only marred by last weekend’s 4-2 loss away to Bayern Munich, although even there, they took an early 2-0 lead. Sevilla, meanwhile, have crumbled and shipped seven goals with three losses from four and crumbled against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semifinals where they took a two goal lead into the second leg and conceded three to lose 3-2 on aggregate.
Haaland was the star turn at Estadion Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan but Mahmoud Dahoud also bagged himself a superb goal as they cut loose at long last after a disappointing campaign domestically. Sevilla are still very much in the tie, but it will take a remarkable turnaround in the form of both teams for the Spanish side to advance.
Liverpool limp into Leipzig encounter
The second leg of their Champions League clash could not come at a better time for Liverpool with a 2-0 first leg lead over the German Bundesliga title challengers and the game being played in Hungary again instead of Anfield with the Reds’ spiritual home suddenly haunting the players.
Jurgen Klopp has seen his men lose a staggering six consecutive home games to fall out of title contention and into a position where European qualification might not be straightforward considering the competition for places.
Liverpool have Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to thank for their first leg lead and return to Puscas Arena in Budapest undaunted by their current Anfield strife which saw relegation threatened Fulham win there over the weekend.
Juve looking to make Porto away goal count
Even the least exciting of this week’s fixtures could have significant ramifications as Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates attempt to reach the quarterfinals at Porto’s expense after a 2-1 opening leg loss.
Federico Chiesa’s late effort in Portugal secured the all-important away goal for the Italians and they will now aim to finish the job at Juventus Stadium this midweek as they continue to trail in the Serie A title race.
Andrea Pirlo’s men only need one goal to qualify, but Porto surprised Juventus at Estadio Do Dragao and an away goal for them could change everything surrounding this tie as it would force the Bianconeri to come out of their shell. Pirlo is clearly taking the match seriously, as he rested Ronaldo over the weekend to ensure that the 36-year-old would have his legs fully under him on Tuesday.
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