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UCL Preview: Man United hosts Barcelona, Tottenham takes on Man City, and more


The UEFA Champions League quarterfinals kick off on Tuesday as eight teams continue their quest for European glory.

Manchester United takes on La Liga heavyweights Barcelona, with the Red Devils hosting Wednesday’s first leg. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez headline the Catalan side’s attack while Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford look to counter for Man United.

Also, a pair of Premier League sides will meet three times over the next two weeks in all competitions as Tottenham Hotspur faces Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s side are still aiming for the quadruple as it already has lifted the Carabao Cup.

As for Tottenham, it hosts Manchester City at its new stadium on Tuesday after claiming a win against Crystal Palace last week.

Elsewhere, Juventus will meet Ajax while Porto takes on Liverpool for the second year in a row.

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

Manchester United vs. Barcelona (Wednesday, 3 p.m. TNT.)

Injuries of Note: Ousmane Dembele has been named in Ernesto Valverde’s squad while Thomas Vermaelen has missed out due to leg discomfort. For Manchester United, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young will be available while Ander Herrera could miss out after missing last week’s loss at Wolves.

Players to Watch: The midfield play will be intriguing with Paul Pogba going up against the likes of Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, and Co. Pogba’s creativity with the ball will be key if United wants to take an advantage while Barcelona’s midfield will run the show passing-wise.

Key to the Match: Lionel Messi is tough to stop so Manchester United may look to defend more heavily in the beginning of the match. Should they limit the Argentine early, expect the hosts to put on more pressure in order to win the leg.

Quote: “United are better now under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer,” Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said. “They don’t mind letting you have the ball because they sometimes know that the other side are technically better.”

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City (Tuesday, 3 p.m. TNT.)

Injuries of Note: Eric Dier and Erik Lamela are expected to miss out with  injuries while Serge Aurier and Fernando Llorente are doubtful. As for Manchester City, Claudio Bravo is a long-term absentee, Sergio Aguero has a muscle problem and Kyle Walker is dealing with a hamstring issue.

Players to Watch: Midfields will again be the battle to watch as Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, and Harry Winks go up against David Silva, Bernardo Silva, and Fernandinho. Both teams have creative options, but Fernandinho’s versatility could be the X-Factor in this tie with Man City coming home for the second leg.

Key to the Match: Harry Kane is a dangerous forward and could be a handful for Manchester City’s centerbacks. Vincent Kompany is an experienced defender who could get the task of dealing with Kane. If Tottenham wants a chance in this series, it needs to score at home.

Quote: “We are going to play aggressive and try to play and beat them,” Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said. “We are going to play a quarterfinal, not a friendly.”

Ajax vs. Juventus (Wednesday, 3 p.m. B/R Live)

Injuries of Note: Ajax is dealing with no injury concerns in the starting XI while Juventus is confident that Cristiano Ronaldo will be available.

Players to Watch: Cristiano Ronaldo has carried Juventus this season and will need to do so some more if the Old Lady wants to move on. The Portuguese star has 23 goals in all competitions, including four in seven UCL matches this term. Dusan Tadic played a major role in Ajax’s upset of Real Madrid and has 26 goals and 13 assists in all competitions.

Key to the Match: Ajax will host the first leg, meaning it has to be aggressive just like it was against Real Madrid. Tadic will do most of the creative work while Frenkie de Jong and Hakim Ziyech try to find goal-scoring opportunities. Juventus has to defend heavily against Tadic but needs to score at least a goal or two to avoid any second-leg setbacks.

Quote: “He [Ronaldo] always feels ready, but I told him to rest [today]. We are confident of having him at Ajax on Wednesday,” Juventus boss Maximilliano Allegri said.

Liverpool vs. Porto (Tuesday, 3 p.m. B/R Live)

Injuries of Note: Andrew Robertson will miss the first leg due to suspension while Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are injured. Hector Herrera and Pepe are out for Porto and Alex Telles is doubtful with a hip injury.

Players to Watch: Mohamed Salah will be key for Liverpool after scoring last Friday against Southampton. The Egyptian star scored against Porto in last season’s Round of 16. Moussa Marega has six UCL goals and will need to be a threat at Anfield if Porto wants any chance of advancing.

Key to the Match: Liverpool will own possession at Anfield and use the energy of the Kop to its advantage. The Reds cannot afford any setbacks at home with a trip to Portugal coming next week. Wing play has always been huge for them and that should continue. Porto will defend in numbers and look to hit Liverpool on the counter.

Quote: Liverpool are on a very high level. Every week they have a very high level of competition,” Porto manager Sergio Conceicao said. “With us it’s not like that, no disrespect to the other teams [in Portugal].

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