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UCL Preview: Bayern, Barcelona clear favorites ahead of second legs


The final two spots in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals are up for grabs on Wednesday, and there are two clear favorites to advance.

Bayern Munich hosts Juventus in Germany, while Barcelona welcomes Arsenal to Spain. The German Bundesliga club is currently level, 2-2, on aggregate with the “Old Lady,” but multiple injuries give Bayern the leg up heading into the second leg.

Barcelona holds a 2-0 advantage over the English Premier League club, and it is currently riding a 37-game unbeaten streak.

Here’s a closer look at Wednesday’s two UCL contests:

Bayern Munich vs. Juventus, at Allianz Arena, 3:45 p.m.,  Fox Sports 2, ESPN Deportes TV/Fox Soccer 2GO

The injury bug has hit Juventus hard ahead of the club’s important second leg vs. Bayern.

Star striker Paulo Dybala and midfielder Claudio Marchisio will not be available to compete for the Serie A club.

An exciting first leg in Turin leaves Juventus needing another goal on the road because a 0-0 or 1-1 tie would see Bayern advance to the final eight. Now that Dybala is out injured, more pressure will be on Alvaro Morata to score. Mario Mandzukic and Paul Pogba are more than capable of contributing to the scoreline as well.

On the other side of the ball, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller are the odds-on favorites to net on Wednesday, while Arjen Robben should also prove to be a menace for Juventus.

Barcelona vs. Arsenal, at Camp Nou, 3:45 p.m., Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes/Fox Soccer 2GO

Arsenal proved to be a formidable opponent in the first leg of the round of 16 series. That is until Lionel Messi decided to take over the game, scoring two road goals to give Barcelona the two-goal cushion ahead of Wednesday’s decisive leg.

The Gunners will look quite different since these two sides met at the Emirates Stadium, as Petr Cech, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey are all unavailable for head coach Arsene Wenger’s selection.

While there are concerns for Arsenal, Barcelona will also be missing a key member of its defense. Gerard Pique is suspended for the second leg after accumulating too many yellow cards in the competition.

Javier Mascherano will likely pair with Jeremy Mathieu, who has proven to be effective when called upon this campaign.

Leading the Barcelona charge will be the sensational trio of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. Arsenal was able to contain the three in England for approximately 70 minutes, but Barcelona has not been held scoreless at home since Feb. 21, 2015. The Gunners will need to turn in the strongest of performances both offensively and defensively if they are to pull off the improbable upset.

What do you think of Wednesday’s matchups? Think Juventus can pull off the upset on the road? Will Barcelona extend its unbeaten run to 38 games?

Share your thoughts below.

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