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UEFA Champions League Preview: Leicester City, Monaco look for second-leg comebacks

Barcelona’s historic comeback against Paris Saint-Germain last week showed that no tie in the Champions League Round of 16 is safe until the final whistle. Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and Real Madrid all punched their tickets to the UCL quarterfinals last week, while eight teams fight for the remaining four spots this week.

Headlining the matches this week will be Monaco hosting Manchester City at the Stade Louis II on Wednesday. The current Ligue 1 leaders are looking to overturn a 5-3 first leg deficit, and having three away goals in their back pocket from Manchester could go a long way. Manchester City, meanwhile, will look to advance to the quarterfinals for the second time in as many years.

Elsewhere, defending English Premier League champions Leicester City host Sevilla at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday. The Foxes have had a tough league campaign this season, but would look to advance to the UCL quarterfinals for the first time in their history. Italian leaders Juventus welcomes Porto to Turin, holding a 2-0 advantage, while Bayer Levekusen travels to Atletico Madrid looking to come back from a 4-2 first leg deficit.

Below is a look at all four matches taking place in the Champions League this week:


Injuries of Note: Leicester has a fully fit squad for the match against Sevilla on Tuesday, with French midfielder Nampalys Mendy the only first-team player missing. The midfielder suffered a knee injury during training.

Key to the Game: The key for Leicester will be to limit Sevilla’s chances early. The Foxes back-line are a mere image of what they were a year ago, and will be relied on to keep a clean sheet in the back. As for Sevilla, they need to keep possession and frustrate Leicester into mistakes.

Matchup to Watch: Jamie Vardy will be fired up from the get-go, and will look to take on the Sevilla back-line at every chance he gets. Sevilla centerbacks Clement Lenglet and Adil Rami are the two most experienced defenders that the Spaniards have, and will need to be ready to run with the speedy Vardy.

Quote: “It will be a special occasion at the King Power,” said Leicester City manager Craig Shakespeare. “The atmosphere will be electric. I’m expecting the team to take the momentum from the two results, to take the confidence they’ve gained from that and really play on the front foot. That’s not saying we’ll be open as we know Seville have some very, very world-class players. But it makes for a very interesting game because of the away goal.”


Injuries of Note: For the hosts, defender Giorgio Chiellini and midfielder Claudio Marchisio are doubtful. Forward Mario Mandzukic returns from illness while winger Juan Cuadrado is set to return from suspension. For Porto, defender Alex Telles will miss out after being sent off in the first leg in Portugal.

Key to the Game: Porto will need a much better performance to advance. In the first leg, Porto failed to record a shot-on-goal, while being reduced to 10-men right before the hour mark. Offensively, Andre Silva and Francisco Tiquinho who have combined for 29 goals this season in all competitions, will need to make the most of their chances.

Matchup to Watch: Like previously stated, Porto needs chances offensively for any chance to advance. Juventus are known for their strong back-line and will be tough to break down. Porto will need to keep the pressure up, while also being smart in the back. Look for Porto midfielder Ruben Neves and Yacine Brahimi to dictate the play in midfield.

Quote: “I’m aware of the importance the Champions League has for the Bianconeri family and for the history of the club,” said Dani Alves. “I too, like all Juventus fans, want to dream and I’m convinced that if we continue down our path calmly, with personality, and without fear of making a mistake then we can get right to the end.”


Injuries of Note: Manchester City has a fairly healthy squad with the likes of defender Vincent Kompany returning. As for Monaco, leading scorer Radamel Falcao is facing a fitness test prior to Wednesday’s showdown. The Colombian striker took a late hip knock against Bordeaux last Friday, and could be forced out. Falcao netted a brace against Manchester City in the first leg back and would be a major loss for the Ligue 1 club.

Key to the Game: With both sides conceding more goals than expected in the first leg, defense will be the key. Manchester City has tightened up defensively in recent matches, and will count on John Stones and Alex Kolarov to lead the back-line. With Kamil Gilk banned due to yellow-card accumulation, Andrea Raggi will look to partner Brazilian defender Jemerson, who missed the first leg due to suspension.

Matchup to Watch: With Falcao a doubt for tomorrow, Kylian Mbappe could see his role increase for Leonardo Jardim’s side. The 18-year-old scored against Man City in the first leg, and has 11 goals between Europe and France this season. Manchester City will need to keep Mbappe out wide, and keep the French forward’s chances to a minimum.

Quote: “We have to play in a very professional way, trying to control the game and showing our experience,” said goalkeeper Willy Caballero. “Keeping our style will be very important if we want to be in the next round. We are always focused on our attack and scoring goals. ”


Injuries of Note: For Bayer Leverkusen, defender Omer Toprak will be missing on Wednesday due to an ankle injury suffered in Bundesliga action last weekend. Leverkusen will also be without right-back Benjamin Henrichs, who is suspended, and German center-back Jonathan Tah, who has a muscle injury. Defender Stefan Savic who recently suffered a broken nose, should be available for Atletico.

Key to the Game: For the visitors, getting Javier Hernandez into the game will be key. The Mexican international is their best attacking threat and will look to give Atletico’s defense problems. For Diego Simeone’s side, keeping possession and even adding to their lead would be key. Striker Antoine Griezmann will look to add to his 21 goals in all competitions this season, while Kevin Gameiro and Fernando Torres are also deadly.

Matchup to Watch: With Leverkusen forced into some defensive changes, players like Aleksandar Dragovic and Wendell will need to lead the bunch against a dangerous offensive threat for Atletico. Speedy wingers Saul Niguez and Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco will look to have a field day against a rotated back-line. If Leverkusen can get an early lead, they could pose a huge threat.

Quote: “We all know it’ll be an incredible challenge,” said Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Völler, “but in games like this the team can regain a huge amount of confidence.”

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