As Major League Soccer returned this past weekend in the United States, Europe’s top club competition continues this week with the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second legs kicking off.
Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain have it all to do on Tuesday, welcoming Real Madrid to the Parc Des Princes. With star playmaker Neymar likely out for the remainder of the season, PSG will need other players to step up in his absence. Since losing the Brazilian, PSG has won their last two Ligue 1 fixtures posting clean sheets in both. Real Madrid are 4-0-1 in La Liga play since the two met on Valentine’s Day, with Cristiano Ronaldo posting five goals in that span.
Wednesday’s action sees Tottenham return to Wembley Stadium for a second leg against Italian heavyweights, Juventus. Mauricio Pochettino’s side hold the away goals tiebreaker after scoring twice in Turin back in February. Spurs have 11 goals in their four matches since the first. Juventus have scraped three wins in a row in both league and cup action since the first leg, winning 1-0 in all three.
Elsewhere, EPL sides Liverpool and Manchester City return to their respective grounds holding huge aggregate leads over Porto and Basel respectively.
Here’s a closer look at this week’s UCL action:
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN VS. REAL MADRID (Tuesday, 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 1. Real Madrid leads 3-1 on aggregate.)
Injuries of Note: Neymar is a huge missing piece for PSG after breaking his metatarsal in a Ligue 1 win against Marseille last month. Other than Neymar, PSG could also be without centerback Marquinhos who is doubtful to play. After being doubts to play, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are expected to play for Zinedine Zidane’s men.
Key to the Game: Even with a lead, Real Madrid will still look to score more goals against PSG. The Ligue 1 side will have to counter with good wing play from players such as Angel Di Maria and Julian Draxler. Los Blancos have to hold their own defensively to avoid any scares in Paris.
Player to Watch: Cristiano Ronaldo has 11 goals in the UCL for Madrid, nine more than their next best scorer. The Portuguese international has found his groove the second-half of the season, and can literally carry his side to a place in the final.
Quote: “With Neymar, PSG are stronger, and without Neymar we are still strong because there are other players,” PSG wingback Dani Alves said. “For sure, we will feel his absence. But I insist that between sitting down and crying and getting up and getting on with it, I always opt for the second option.”
LIVERPOOL VS. FC PORTO (Tuesday, 2:45 p.m., ESPN Deportes, Fox Soccer 2. Liverpool leads 5-0 on aggregate.)
Injuries of Note: Both sides come into this second leg at Anfield with healthy squads. Emre Can returns for Liverpool after missing the first leg through suspension, while Porto have defender Felipe back from injury.
Key to the Game: Following a dominant first leg win in Portugal, Liverpool will hope for a comfortable outing at home. Expect a few changes to Jurgen Klopp’s side ahead of their EPL weekend trip to Manchester United. Porto will throw all hands on deck offensively for a chance at pulling an upset.
Player to Watch: Sadio Mane may not have the numbers in league play that Mohamed Salah does, but the Senegalese winger has been huge for the Reds in Europe. Mane netted a hat trick in the 5-0 first leg win, and has six goals
Quote: “We respect Porto too much and the competition too much to think about real rotation,” Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said. “We will prepare ourselves for the game and we want to win the second half of the tie.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR VS. JUVENTUS (Wednesday., Fox Soccer 1. Teams are tied 2-2 on aggregate, with Tottenham holding away goal tiebreaker.)
Injuries of Note: Belgian midfielder Moussa Dembele is questionable for Spurs after seen limping during their 2-0 league win vs. Huddersfield last weekend. Gonzalo Higuain is also questionable for Juventus after missing their 1-0 league win at Lazio on Saturday.
Key to the Game: Spurs have been a thorn in the side of several big teams this year, and will need to show that fearless attitude again on Wednesday to advance. Their wing play will need to get after Juventus’ backline, while the visitors need to be able to absorb pressure.
Player to Watch: Son-Heung Min has been a nice player to watch for Spurs, totaling 15 goals in all competitions this season. The South Korean international netted a brace over Huddersfield last weekend, and is a creative option in the Spurs attack.
Quote: “Tottenham are different compared to Lazio, they don’t defend as well. This win certainly helps our confidence as we will have to be good and lucky on Wednesday,” Juventus boss Maximilliano Allegri said.
MANCHESTER CITY VS. FC BASEL (Wednesday., ESPN Deportes, Fox Soccer 2. Man City leads 4-0 on aggregate.)
Injuries of Note: Long-term absentee Benjamin Mendy is still out for Pep Guardiola’s side, while Fernandinho is also expexted to miss the second leg. Playmaking winger Raheem Sterling is also a doubt for City. Basel come into this match with a healthy squad.
Key to the Game: Manchester City dominated their way past Basel in the first leg, and are expected to do so again at home. Pep Guardiola will enjoy the possession while also looking to add to the aggregate. Basel need to try and make the most of their offensive chances for any hope of making this leg competitive.
Player to Watch: Belgian international Kevin De Bruyne is a sensational midfielder and one of the best in the world. The 26-year-old has 19 assists in all competitions this season, paired with 11 goals. He is a deadly playmaker for City’s offense.
Quote: “We are not going to play for the records. Records are always a consequence of what you have done but they are not the main thing,” Man City boss Pep Guardiola said.