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UEFA Champions League

UEFA Champions League Preview: Juventus hosts Barcelona, Real Madrid faces Bayern, and more

After a thrilling Round of 16 back in March, eight teams remain with a chance to clinch a spot in May’s UEFA Champions League Final.

Headlining this week’s first legs is Juventus welcoming Barcelona to Turin on Tuesday afternoon. This is the first meeting between the two sides since they faced off in the 2015 final in Berlin, which Barcelona won 3-1.

Another mouth-watering matchup features German giants Bayern Munich hosting La Liga leaders Real Madrid at the Allianz Arena. Los Blancos have eliminated Bayern in their last two matchups, both semifinals in 2012 and 2014 respectively.

Elsewhere, last season’s Cinderella story Leicester City travels to the Vicente Calderon to face Atletico Madrid, while Borussia Dortmund hosts Monaco in the final quarterfinal matchup.

Here’s a closer look at this week’s Champions League action:

Juventus vs. Barcelona, Tuesday, 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 1/Fox Sports Go/Fox Deportes/Fox Soccer 2Go

Injuries of Note: Juventus comes into the first leg pretty healthy, with striker Mario Mandzukic returning from injury and expected to play. Barcelona will be without midfielder Sergio Busquets, who has a two-match ban that carried over from the Round of 16. Rafinha and Arda Turan are out, while defender Aleix Vidal is also unavailable for selection.

Key to the Game: For Barcelona, they need to be strong at the back against a deadly Juventus attack. Striker Gonzalo Higuain is coming off a brace last weekend, while winger Juan Cuadrado is huge in their build-up play. Juve’s main strength is their defense, but against the MSN trio, they need to be ready to go from the opening whistle.

Player to Watch: Gonzalo Higuain is on a great run of form for Juventus right now and he will be a major threat in the hosts’ attacking play. The Argentine has four goals in his last two matches, both victories in the league and cup. His 27 goals in all competitions leads the club, and he isn’t showing any signs of stopping.

Quote: “Nothing is impossible,” said Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri. “We have to play a perfect game on a technical level. We have to play, believing we can go through. We’ll need to be at our best both when attacking and defending.”

Borussia Dortmund vs. Monaco , Tuesday, 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 2/Fox Sports Go/Fox Soccer 2Go

Injuries of Note: Both sides have injury concerns which could affect their starting lineup for Wednesday’s first leg. Monaco is without wingback Djibril Sidibe, who is out with appendicitis, while midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko is suspended. Borussia Dortmund may have Marco Reus available after missing the last seven matches. However, Andre Schurrle, Shinji Kagawa, Julian Weigl, and Lukasz Piszczek are doubts.

Key to the Game: Dortmund is coming off a 4-1 thrashing at the hands Bayern over the weekend, and will need to play a lot better. Offensively, they need to make the most of their opportunities, while defensively they will need to be ready for a pacey Monaco attack. Monaco have the attacking ability to win, but, defensively, they will need to be a lot better than last round against Manchester City.

Players to Watch: We could very well see a pair of youngsters making a huge impact in this tie. Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe has 14 goals across all competitions this season, including a goal in each leg against Manchester City. Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic has five goals and eight assists across all competitions this season, including a goal and assist in their 4-0 victory over Benfica back in March.

Quote: “Monaco play at a very high tempo and, in addition to individual talent, they have a very strong team ethic,” said Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel. “I think it’s safe to say we won’t have two 0-0 draws; both teams are too interested in scoring and pushing themselves to the limit.”

Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid, Wednesday, 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 1/Fox Sports Go/Fox Soccer 2Go

Injuries of Note: Bayern Munich will be missing defender Mats Hummels (ankle) and keeper Manuel Neuer (toe) for Wednesday’s first leg. After not making an appearance against Dortmund, Thomas Muller should return to the Bayern 18-man squad on Wednesday. Real Madrid will be without centerback Pepe, who suffered two broken ribs in Saturday’s 1-1 draw vs. Atletico Madrid.

Key to the Game: For Bayern, they need to impose their style of play early against Real Madrid to be successful. The battle between Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski and Real’s Sergio Ramos should be one for the ages. Real Madrid needs to tighten it up at the back with Pepe’s absence, while Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale need to be very influential.

Player to Watch: Despite not scoring in his last three matches, Cristiano Ronaldo has added three assists in that span. The 32-year-old still is playing at a world-class level and will look to add to his 22 goals in all competitions. With some changes coming in the Bayern backline, expect Ronaldo to have an impact on Wednesday’s first leg. In his last four matches against Bayern, Ronaldo has scored four goals.

Quote: “We have just beaten a big opponent [in Dortmund] which of course gives us confidence,”Bayern winger Arjen Robben said. “We created many chances and enjoyed ourselves on the pitch. I feel that we are ready for Madrid.”

Atletico Madrid vs. Leicester City, Wednesday, 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 2/Fox Sports Go/Fox Soccer 2Go

Injuries of Note: Leicester will be without top defender Wes Morgan for at least the first leg due to a back issue. Midfielder Nampalys Mendy is out long-term while Wilfried Ndidi has a groin injury.  Atletico Madrid have a fairly fit squad after their recent 1-1 weekend draw vs. Real Madrid.

Key to the Game: Leicester are coming off a 4-2 league defeat at Everton where they gave up an early 2-1 lead. Defensively, losing Wes Morgan hurts which makes Robert Huth’s job a lot tougher against Antoine Griezmann. Atletico needs to attack Leicester early and try to use their skilled forwards to their advantage.

Player to Watch: Atletico forward Antoine Griezmann is the top player on display in this tie, and he’ll try to add to his 23 goals in all competitions. The 26-year-old netted a valuable equalizer for his side against rivals Real Madrid last weekend, and will look to get after the shaky Leicester backline.

Quote: “Facing a team who have reached the final in two of the last three seasons is a massive challenge but it’s just the kind of tie you expect in the quarterfinals of the Champions League,” admitted Leicester City boss Craig Shakespeare. “Atletico Madrid are a very good team with some fantastic individuals with experience in the competition, but we’ll be ready to give everything to progress. “It will be a brilliant occasion for our supporters and for everyone at the club.”

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