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UCL Preview: Liverpool hosts Bayern, Juventus travels to Atletico, and more

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Two of Europe’s dynamic attacking fronts will duke it out on Tuesday aiming for a strong start to their Round of 16 draw in the UEFA Champions League.

Liverpool welcomes Bayern Munich to Anfield as Jurgen Klopp prepares to face a familiar foe from his Bundesliga days. The Reds are favorites to advance into the quarterfinals with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino headlining their front three. Bayern will counter with Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben, and the in-form Kingsley Coman.

Elsewhere, Juventus takes on Atletico Madrid in Spain for the first time since their 2014 group stage meeting. High-flying Manchester City travels to Gelsenkirchen for a date with Schalke while Lyon entertains Barcelona in France.

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

Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich (Tuesday, 3 p.m. TNT)

Injuries of Note: Kingsley Coman is a race to be fit in time after picking up an ankle injury last Friday. First-team keeper Manuel Neuer should be ready to go but Jerome Boateng is not expected to play. As for Liverpool, Virgil van Dijk is suspended while Dejan Lovren is injured which means a makeshift centerback pairing is expected.

Players to Watch: Mo Salah is the piece that gets Liverpool going and the Egyptian star has four goals in his last five matches in all competitions. Robert Lewandowski will be a handful for Liverpool’s backline as the striker has scored eight goals in the Champions League this campaign.

Key to the Match: Liverpool will look to use the Anfield energy to their advantage and keep their foot on the gas at all times. Meanwhile, Bayern will try to settle the crowd down by keeping the Reds pinned back and off the ball.

Quote: “If you look at what Liverpool did in the Champions League last season and what Liverpool are doing in the Premier League this season, then you have to say Liverpool is the most difficult draw that there is,” Bayern manager Niko Kovac said.

Atletico Madrid vs. Juventus (Wednesday, 3 p.m. TNT)

Injuries of Note: Both teams have healthy rosters coming into this clash. Douglas Costa and Daniele Rugani have returned to training on Monday after dealing with respective injuries.

Players to Watch: Antoine Griezmann may not be the biggest forward in Europe but he definitely can flip a match in Atletico’s favor. The Frenchman has 18 goals in all competitions, including four in the UCL. Cristiano Ronaldo is coming into this match on fine form, scoring four goals in his last three matches.

Key to the Match: Both sides pose two of the top defenses in Europe and it could very well be a low-scoring affair in Spain. Atletico likes to own possession but will need to create chances in order to pin Juventus back. With the likes of Ronaldo and Dybala up top, Juventus has the edge attacking wise and is expected to have the better chances offensively.

Quote: “We have payers who have already played the finals of the highest European competition, as well as the Europa League and World Cup. We are already more confident when we face important moments and games and I think that we can give the best of ourselves on these occasions,” Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann said.

Lyon vs. Barcelona (Tuesday, 3 p.m. B/R Live)

Injuries of Note: Samuel Umtiti will return for Barcelona at a key time after Thomas Vermaelen has been ruled out due to a leg problem. Rafinha, Jasper Cillessen, and Arthur are also sidelined for Barcelona. Jason Denayer and Tanguy Ndombele are questionable due to respective injuries.

Players to Watch: Maxwel Cornet has scored three goals in the Champions League for Lyon this campaign, and will take the place of Nabil Fekir who is suspended. The Frenchman has 11 goals in all competitions. Lionel Messi will be called on once again to lead Barcelona as he has six goals already in this year’s competition.

Key to the Match: Both teams have the ability to score goals but Lyon has the tougher challenge despite being at home. Barcelona are known to own possession, but Lyon needs to be as dangerous as in wins against Manchester City and PSG. The Catalan side may sit back early but look for them to take more chances as the match goes on.

Quote: I have a lot of respect for Lyon, they beat PSG recently,” Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said. “They have very fast players in the midfield and in attack, they try to create space. We have to close those spaces.”

Schalke vs. Manchester City (Wednesday, 3 p.m. B/R Live)

Injuries of Note: Manchester City did see Benjamin Mendy and Vincent Kompany return to training but could be without Gabriel Jesus and John Stones. The pair missed training on Monday and would be valuable losses for Pep Guardiola. Schalke is without Breel Embolo and Benjamin Stambouli who are dealing with a fractured foot and cheek fracture respectively.

Players to Watch: A former Schalke winger, Leroy Sane is a dangerous talent who will be eager to face his old team. Sane’s pace and skill makes him even more scarier in City’s potent attack. Weston McKennie is a rising midfielder for Schalke and will have busy day against Man City’s deadly attack.

Key to the Match: Schalke will have a go at Manchester City knowing that other teams have taken points from them in the group stage. Look for the German side to drive at the City’s backline. The EPL sides is known for possession and strong wing play and both will be expected on Wednesday.

Quote: “We all know how strong City are, so we have to be on our best if we want to do something,” Schalke and former Man City defender Matija Nastasic said. “But at our stadium we have a great support every game and that will be to our advantage.”

 

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