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UCL Preview: Atletico-Chelsea, Atalanta-Real Madrid headline final Round of 16 first legs


Eight more European clubs will get their chance to take first-leg advantages in the UEFA Champions League this week as the Round of 16 continues starting on Tuesday.

Atletico Madrid faces Chelsea at the Arena Nationala in Budapest, Hungary on Tuesday. These teams haven’t met in European action since 2017, and Atletico will be looking to set the tone despite being first to play its home leg at a neutral venue.

Fellow Spanish club Real Madrid hits the road on Wednesday aiming to grab a result at Serie A hosts Atalanta. Zinedine Zidane’s side is enjoying a good run of results, having won four straight ahead of a trip to Bergamo, but injuries have hit Real Madrid hard. Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema headline a long list of players set to miss Wednesday’s match. Atalanta is unbeaten in five-consecutive matches, with three of those being victories.

2020 winners Bayern Munich also hits the road for the first leg, facing off with Lazio in Rome. English Premier League leaders Manchester City face an intriguing showdown at a neutral site, taking on Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach for the first time since 2016.

Here is a closer look at all four matches scheduled this week in UCL play:

Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea

(Tuesday, 3 p.m., CBS Sports Network/Univision)

Atletico Madrid saw its seven-match unbeaten run ended this weekend, but will now look to rebound against Chelsea at home. Diego Simeone’s side fell to Levante, 2-0, on Saturday, suffering its first league defeat since December 12th. Luis Suarez leads the way with 16 league goals this season and will be keen on delivering against his former Premier League rival. Covid-19 travel restrictions are forcing Atletico to host its home leg in Hungary rather than Spain, which isn’t quite as much of a factor considering games in Spain are played without spectators.

Chelsea is unbeaten in eight straight, but saw its five-match winning run ended with a 1-1 draw at Southampton over the weekend. Thomas Tuchel has plenty of attacking options to choose from in Spain, with Timo Werner, Olivier Giroud, and Mason Mount the headliners. Tammy Abraham will miss out due to injury, but Christian Pulisic could play a part for the English club if Tuchel needs him.

Atalanta vs. Real Madrid

(Wednesday, 3 p.m., TUDN/CBS All Access)

Real Madrid hits the road for a first leg date with Atalanta, a match which will see Los Blancos as favorites. Zinedine Zidane’s men have won their last four matches, conceding only once during that span. Karim Benzema has scored two goals in his last four outings, while Casemiro, and Toni Kroos have also delivered. Defensively, Los Blancos are riding high with confidence, but will go up against a dynamic Atalanta attack on the road.

Atalanta has scored 11 goals in its last four matches and have many players to choose from against Real Madrid offensively. Luis Muriel, Duvan Zupata, and Josip Ilicic have all been key to the Serie A club’s attack this season, coming for 27 goals in league play. With the team on a nice groove of late, Atalanta will aim to get after a Real Madrid backline that has been rarely tested over the past month.

Lazio vs. Bayern Munich

(Tuesday, 3 p.m., Univision NOW/CBS All Access)

Bayern Munich’s quest to repeat as UEFA Champions League winners continues with a trip to Lazio on Tuesday. Hansi Flick’s side has stumbled in back-to-back league matches, tying against Arminia Bielefeld and losing to Eintracht Frankfurt. With Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry among the absentees, Flick will rely on Robert Lewandowski and Leroy Sane to lead the line in Rome.

Lazio rebounded in league play with a 1-0 win over Sampdoria this weekend, a positive performance ahead of Tuesday’s date with Bayern. Pepe Reina has been in good form in goal for the Serie A side, conceding only three goals in his last three outings. The veteran shotstopper will look to keep Bayern at bay while Ciro Immobile aims to add to his five goals in the competition.

Borussia Moenchengladbach vs. Manchester City

(Wednesday, 3 p.m., CBS All Access/Univision NOW) 

Manchester City’s winning ways across all competitions continued on Sunday with a 1-0 triumph over Arsenal and now Pep Guardiola’s side heads to Budapest in hopes of extending that unbeaten run. The Citizens have not suffered defeat since a November league loss to Tottenham, putting together a current 25-match unbeaten run. Kevin De Bruyne is back and at full fitness for the Citizens while Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling are in superb form in attack.

Borussia Monchengladbach has only won once in its past five matches in all competitions and is coming off a disappointing 2-1 loss to Mainz over the weekend. Marco Rose’s side are major underdogs in their two-legged tie with the Citizens, but have pulled some shocks in the competition so far. Alassane Plea leads the way with five goals in the tournament while Marcus Thuram and Breel Embolo could also play key roles in Wednesday’s match.

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