The Champions League makes its lengthy awaited return after virtually 5 months this weekend, with eight groups hoping to achieve the quarter-finals. Atalanta, Atlético Madrid, PSG and RB Leipzig have already secured their locations within the mini match in Lisbon later this month however there are nonetheless 4 last-16 ties to finish, beginning with video games in Manchester and Turin on Friday night time.
Manchester Metropolis v Actual Madrid, Friday 8pm BST
Manchester Metropolis maintain a 2-1 benefit in opposition to La Liga champions Actual Madrid, who should rating twice on the Etihad to have any likelihood of progressing. Madrid should not the attacking power they as soon as have been – Barcelona scored 16 objectives greater than them within the league this season – and Zinedine Zidane will little question arrange his facet to take advantage of Metropolis’s weak point on the counter quite than going on the hosts from the outset.
City had to come from behind to win at the Bernabéu with two objectives within the final 12 minutes, however they have been good worth for the end result, with Raheem Sterling’s introduction within the second half proving the catalyst. Sergio Agüero has been included in Metropolis’s 25-man squad for the Champions League however he has been dominated out of this recreation, leaving Pep Guardiola with an enormous determination about who ought to lead the road. Bernardo Silva operated as a false 9 in Madrid, with Gabriel Jesus out on the left. Guardiola will in all probability attempt to spring one other shock on Friday.
Metropolis’s forwards is not going to have to fret about going through Sergio Ramos, who was despatched off late within the first leg and is banned. Actual Madrid have received 15 of the final 16 matches the centre-back has missed by means of suspension, however he’s vital in massive video games – in each packing containers. Ramos has scored 13 objectives this season, together with 5 because the restart. His position because the membership’s penalty taker helps high up that tally, however this Actual Madrid workforce should not precisely free-scoring. Ramos and Karim Benzema have been the one two gamers to attain greater than 4 league objectives for the membership this season. Zidane will want one other massive efficiency from his star striker, who has loved maybe his greatest season in a Actual Madrid shirt. Prediction: Manchester Metropolis to win on the night time and qualify.
Juventus v Lyon, Friday 8pm BST
Lyon pulled off the most important shock of the primary legs when they beat Juventus 1-0 back in February. Nonetheless, they arrive into this recreation having performed only one aggressive fixture within the final 5 months: the Coupe de la Ligue remaining, which they lost to PSG on penalties. Whereas Lyon have been lacking out on Ligue 1 motion in France, Maurizio Sarri’s facet have received the league in Italy.
Main Juventus to their ninth straight Serie A title was a triumph for Sarri, however the Old Lady were beaten by Napoli in the Coppa Italia final and solely stuttered over the road within the league, ending only a level above Inter after shedding three of their final 4 video games. They rested gamers in the direction of the tip of the marketing campaign however this Juve workforce isn’t the dominant power of previous in Italy.
Sarri’s facet didn’t come out on high in any key metric – bar factors, after all – within the league. They didn’t rating essentially the most objectives, take essentially the most photographs, have essentially the most possession, concede the fewest objectives, concede the fewest photographs or have the very best go accuracy. The 4 groups that completed immediately under them within the desk all scored extra objectives. A lot of Juve’s attacking play goes by means of the 35-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo. Paulo Dybala has been in positive kind because the restart, however their midfield specifically appears suspect.
In contrast, Lyon have actual rising expertise in that space, with Houssem Aouar and Bruno Guimarães the choose of the bunch. If Lyon can match Juventus for health, there could also be an upset on the playing cards. Memphis Depay has returned after a long-term damage to present his workforce a lift, so count on one other even battle. Prediction: Lyon to undergo on away objectives.
Barcelona v Napoli, 8pm Saturday
The primary leg of this tie completed 1-1 in Naples. It was no traditional, with simply 15 photographs, however Napoli will really feel that they had the higher of the possibilities and will now be going to Camp Nou with a result in defend. As it’s this match is finely balanced between two sides which have fallen effectively in need of their greatest lately.
Whereas Barcelona have been surrendering their league title to Actual Madrid with comparatively little struggle after the restart, Napoli have been having an excellent worse time. Having been Juve’s closest challenger in current campaigns, they fell to a seventh-place end this season. A minimum of Barcelona can depend on Lionel Messi. Napoli, by comparability, actually need a goalscorer. Their final 9 objectives have been scored by 9 completely different gamers.
Each of those groups have unfamiliar issues in assault. Barcelona should not as artistic or incisive as they have been at their peak. They’re taking fewer and fewer photographs each season. They solely took 13 photographs per recreation this season – the fourth 12 months in a row that this determine has decreased. Lecce, who have been relegated from Serie A, and Southampton each completed the season with extra photographs.
In contrast, Napoli took a great deal of photographs however didn’t rating many objectives. That they had 18.1 photographs per recreation this season; solely Manchester Metropolis (19.6) and Atalanta (18.7) had extra in Europe’s high 5 leagues). But, Napoli have been removed from prolific. Arkadiusz Milik was their high scorer in Serie A this season with simply 11 objectives. They’ve definitely improved because the appointment of Gennaro Gattuso late final 12 months, including a Coppa Italia title to their trophy room, however their incapacity to transform probabilities is an issue. They misplaced 12 league matches this season, having misplaced simply 14 within the earlier three seasons mixed.
Barça will probably be lacking each Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal by means of suspension and Napoli might be with out Lorenzo Insigne because the winger is struggling with a thigh injury. Prediction: Barcelona to win the sport and undergo.
Bayern Munich v Chelsea, 8pm Saturday
Having simply misplaced the FA Cup final to Arsenal, Frank Lampard might in all probability do with no journey to Munich. Bayern have been very good within the first leg at Stamford Bridge, winning 3-0 and absolutely guaranteeing their place within the quarter-finals. They’ve carried that kind over the break to saunter to a different Bundesliga title, successful each single match because the restart. They haven’t misplaced a recreation in 2020.
Hansi Flick has rejuvenated a facet that appeared to be in a state of regression. In Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski they’ve two forwards who’re exhibiting no indicators of letting up of their thirties. Lewandowski scored 34 objectives within the Bundesliga this season and Müller completed the marketing campaign with 21 assists. Serge Gnabry and transformed full-back Alphonso Davies present width going forwards, enabling Bayern to combine up their assault.
If Chelsea are to realize the close to unimaginable and win by three objectives in Munich, they should open up and assault. However that’s not a good suggestion with their defence. A typically constructive season might finish in an unsightly trend. Chelsea haven’t saved a clear sheet in an away match within the Premier League since earlier than Christmas they usually conceded extra objectives (14) post-lockdown than another workforce within the division. Having bolstered their assault within the switch window already, bettering their leaky defence is maybe a much bigger precedence than attempting to show round this tie. Prediction: Bayern will win on the night time and undergo.