UEFA Champions League Preview: Man City hosts Liverpool, Real Madrid travels to Juventus, and more

UEFA Champions League Preview: Man City hosts Liverpool, Real Madrid travels to Juventus, and more

European Soccer

UEFA Champions League Preview: Man City hosts Liverpool, Real Madrid travels to Juventus, and more

After a thrilling round of quarterfinal first legs last week, four teams will punch their tickets into the UEFA Champions League semifinals at the conclusion of this week’s second legs.

Barcelona, Liverpool, and Real Madrid comfortably took control of their ties with lopsided wins while Bayern Munich leads Sevilla by a slim 2-1 margin. This week’s action kicks off on Tuesday with the all-EPL tie switching to Manchester. Wednesday’s action sees Real Madrid return to the Bernabeu looking to breeze once again past Juventus.

Elsewhere, Barcelona travel to the Olimpico to face Roma while Sevilla heads to Bayern looking to pull off another upset in the tournament.

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

MANCHESTER CITY VS. LIVERPOOL (Tuesday, 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 1, ESPN3. Liverpool leads, 3-0, on aggregate). 

Injuries of Note: Jurgen Klopp will hope that star forward Mohamed Salah will be fit for Tuesday’s clash after limping off at Anfield last week. The Egyptian missed Saturday’s Merseyside Derby against Everton and is questionable for the second leg. Adam Lallana is also questionable for Liverpool after missing the last few matches. David Silva left Saturday’s Manchester Derby for City, but Sergio Aguero came off the bench in a short cameo. Benjamin Mendy could also return for City after being out since September.

Key to the Game: If Manchester City want to stand any chance of advancing, they will need to go for it. The Citizens were steamrolled by Liverpool in the first leg, and failed to record a shot on goal. The weekend loss to Manchester United does not help their confidence, but they cannot afford to be conservative at the Etihad.

Player to Watch: After having a quiet performance in the first leg, Kevin De Bruyne will need to step it up for Manchester City. The Belgian has 11 goals and 20 assists this season in all competitions, and can single-handedly carry an offense with his ability.

Quote: “There’s not one single person at Manchester City who believes this game is over,’ Man City captain Vincent Kompany said. “We have to live with the consequences of this result but that’s what makes football special. If we need to score five, so be it. We pride ourselves on being the team we are.”

AS ROMA VS. BARCELONA (Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. Fox Sports 2, ESPN Deportes. Barcelona leads, 4-1, on aggregate). 

Injuries of Note: Radja Nainggolan looks ready to return for Roma after missing out on the loss last week. Diego Perotti’s status however is unknown for the Serie A side after dealing with a calf issue. Barcelona is expected to have a full strength squad for the second leg in Rome.

Key to the Game: Edin Dzeko gave Roma fans some life with a goal in Barcelona, but Luis Suarez killed that with Barcelona’s fourth late in the match. The hosts will need to control possession and pin Barcelona back for a chance at a miraculous comeback.

Player to Watch: Dzeko leads Roma with five goals this UCL and has 19 in all competitions this season. He is a threat in front of goal with both feet and his head, and will be the lead man for Roma on Tuesday.

Quote: “We can’t take it for granted. We have to play like it is 0-0 because anything can happen,” Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde said. “They are going to go for it. We saw in the first leg they have good players and we have to be prepared for them.”

REAL MADRID VS. JUVENTUS (Wednesday, 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 1, ESPN Deportes. Real Madrid leads, 3-0, on aggregate). 

Injuries of Note: Cristiano Ronaldo was substituted in Madrid’s derby draw against Atletico on Sunday, but Zinedine Zidane claims the forward has no injury. Nacho remains the only first team player out for Los Blancos, but Sergio Ramos will miss due to suspension. Juventus rested several starters in Saturday’s 4-2 league win at Benevento, and should have a healthy squad for Wednesday.

Key to the Game: Juventus netted four goals at the weekend, with Paulo Dybala leading the way with a hat trick. The Old Lady will need to get balls into the box, but also take their chances near the box as well. If they allow Real to hold possession, the aggregate could soar even higher in Madrid.

Player to Watch: Dybala has 23 goals this season in all comps, but only one in the Champions League. The 24-year-old will need to up his performance on Europe’s biggest stage for Juventus to stand a chance of coming back.

Quote: “It was just to rest,” Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane said following Sunday’s draw vs. Atletico. “We have many games, that’s it. Sometimes he needs to rest. Cristiano is Cristiano, he has been this player all his life, scoring 50 goals a season.”

BAYERN MUNICH VS. SEVILLA (Wednesday, 2:45 p.m., Fox Sports 2, ESPN3. Bayern leads, 2-1, on aggregate). 

Injuries of Note: David Alaba and Arturo Vidal could miss Wednesday’s second leg after missing the weekend win at Augsburg. Kingsley Coman remains a long-term absentee, while Manuel Neuer still needs fitness. Ever Banega returns for Sevilla from suspension, while Sebastien Corchia is expected to miss due to a groin problem.

Key to the Game: Sevilla made a good match at home despite falling to Bayern, 2-1, in the first leg. After a heavy league defeat this weekend, the La Liga side will need to show a quick memory and attack Bayern down the middle. Wissam Ben Yedder is a good scoring threat for Sevilla, and can get after a stubborn Bayern backline.

Player to Watch: James Rodriguez looks back in form for Bayern, scoring a goal and adding an assist in Saturday’s Bundesliga clinching win at Augsburg. Rodriguez has six goals and 12 assists in all competitions this season, and has been playing some dazzling football as of late.

Quote: “In all honestly, there was at least a half hour when they could have scored a second goal and there were things I’d like us to have done better,” Bayern Munich defender Mats Hummels said. “This means that we have work to do in the second leg in Munich.”

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