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UEFA Champions League

UEFA Champions League Preview: Man City faces Barcelona, Bayern visits PSV, and more

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The UEFA Champions League returns on Tuesday, and attention will fall squarely on Manchester City to redeem themselves against one of the world’s best.

Following a 4-0 thrashing in their prior clash, Man City plays host to Barcelona in Group C action. Entering Tuesday’s match, Barcelona has earned all nine points in group play, while Man City sits on just four points through three games.

Both Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain can lock up spots in the knockout rounds in Group A action, as the two powerhouses faces Ludogorets and Basel, respectively. Elsewhere, PSV Eindhoven hosts Arjen Robben and Bayern Munich, while Borussia Monchengladbach looks to navigate a trip to Scotland to face Celtic.

Here’s a closer look at Tuesday’s Champions League action:

GAMES TO WATCH

Manchester City (4 points) vs. Barcelona (9 points), Tuesday, 3:45 p.m., Fox Sports 1

Injuries of note: Barcelona enters Tueday’s match severely limited by injury absences. Midfielder Andres Iniesta is set to miss out while defenders Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Aleix Vidal and Jeremy Mathieu are also all out of action. For City, the biggest absence is Claudio Bravo, who will miss out due to a red card suspension following his ill-advised handball last time out.

Key to the game: In recent years, English clubs have struggled with Barcelona, and City is now entering riding a 4-0 loss to the Spanish giants. Following that beating, Pep Guardiola hopefully learned his side cannot be naive against his former club, as City cannot go toe-to-toe with Barca’s big three. It’s impossible to limit Lionel Messi and co., but the Man City defense must make sure to, at least, not give them free reign like they did last time out.

Player to watch: After starting last match on the bench, Sergio Aguero is expected to rejoin the lineup for Tuesday’s clash. Aguero remains one of the world’s premier attackers and, with so many Barcelona defenders out of action, should be a threat throughout Tuesday’s match.

Quote: “It’s always difficult against Barcelona 11 v 11. When it’s 10 v 11, it’s almost impossible,” Guardiola said. “But at that level it’s impossible to achieve your targets [if you don’t remaind disciplined]. It’s football. Football is a game of mistakes.”

PSV Eindhoven (1 point) vs. Bayern Munich (6 points), Tuesday, 3:45 p.m., Fox Soccer 2 Go

Injuries of note: Bayern may be tempted to rest some regulars, and should be missing several due to injury. Javi Martinez is set to miss out due to a thigh injury, while Franck Ribery is questionable. PSV’s situation is significantly worse as  Jeroen Zoet, Luciano Narsingh, Siem de Jong, Steven Bergwijn and Jurgen Locadia are all set to miss out.

Key to the game: PSV Eindhoven is typically a tricky team in European play but, given their string of injuries, they should find things tough against Bayern Munich. Without strikers de Jong and Locadia as well as midfielder speedster Narsingh, PSV will likely have trouble scoring, putting pressure on the midfield unit of Davy Proepper, Andres Guardado, and Bart Remselaar to dig deep defensively and limit the Bayern attack.

Player to watch: For the first time since leaving PSV in 2004, Arjen Robben is set to return to the Philips Stadion. It will surely be an emotional visit for the Dutch winner, who should be expected to return with a big game against his former club.

Quote:“It’s a really important game, we want to qualify after this game,” said Bayern manager Carlo Ancelotti. “We still want to finish first in the group, so I will choose the best lineup.”

Borussia Monchendladbach (3 points) vs. Celtic (1 point), Tuesday, 3:45 p.m., Fox Sports 2 Go/ESPN 3

Injuries of note: Celtic will be without defenders Kolo Toure, Kieran Tierney  and Jozo Simunovic, while Borussia Monchengladbach striker Raffael and midfielder Thorgan Hazard are questionable due to injuries.

Key to the game: Defensively, Celtic has been somewhat solid despite the absences of Toure and Simunovic. With that in mind, Erik Sviatchenko will need to lead a rotated defense in what is essentially a must-win game for the Scottish side.

Player to watch: Former Fulham forward Moussa Dembele has been very good since making the move to Scotland. The French striker has scored seven goals in 10 games, making him the biggest risk to Monchengladbach’s backline on Tuesday.

Quote: “We always look for the right tactics and setup to counteract the team we are playing against,” said Monchengladbach boss Andre Schubert. “Celtic will be altered, not just due to tactical changes but also with injuries: Kieran Tierney is injured and so Mikael Lustig will likely move into the middle, as he did before. We know they have a lot of dangerous players going forward, as they caused us problems in the first match against Celtic. However, this time we are playing at home and we are determined to dominate the game and win.

Ludogorets (1 point) vs. Arsenal (7 points), Tuesday, 3:45 p.m., Fox Sports 2 Go/ESPN 3

Injuries of note: Nacho Monreal, Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla and Hector Bellerin are all set to miss out for Arsenal, depriving the Gunners of several players that could have certainly started on Tuesday afternoon. Ludogorets, meanwhile, is missing just left back Vitinha.

Key to the game: A clash with Tottenham is scheduled for this weekend, giving Arsene Wenger several decisions to make with regards to lineup selection. After cruising past Ludogorets, 6-0, last time out, Wenger could very well field a weakened lineup, although a win would seal the club’s spot in the knockout round.

Player to watch: Mesut Ozil smashed a second-half hat-trick against Ludogorets last time out. If the German star features again, he should be expected to lead the attacking push in what should be a comfortable Arsenal win if all goes according to plan.

Quote: “We have some very important games in front of us,” Wenger said. “But we need to continue to do what we’ve done until now by just focusing on the next game. We have to try to win tomorrow night and then we have Tottenham at home on Sunday. The best way to prepare for that is for us to continue our strong run. It’s important to keep a good balance between vigilance and confidence.”

Besiktas (5 point) vs. Napoli (6 points), Tuesday, 1:45 p.m., Fox Sports 2 Go/ESPN 3

Basel (1 point) vs. Paris-Saint Germain (7 points), Tuesday, 3:45 p.m., Fox Sports 2 Go/ESPN 3

Benfica (4 points) vs. Dynamo Kiev (1 point), Tuesday, 3:45 p.m., Fox Sports 2 Go/ESPN 3

Atletico Madrid (9 points) vs. Rostov (1 point), Tuesday, 3:45 p.m., ESPN 2

 

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