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UCL Round of 16 Preview: PSG hosts Real Madrid, Liverpool visits Inter Milan, and more


The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 is back with a bang this week as two of the tournament’s hopefuls square off in Paris to kick off the action.

Paris Saint-Germain hosts Real Madrid in Tuesday’s opening tie, with both league leaders hoping to claim an important first leg result. Lionel Messi and Vinicius Junior will headline the attacking talent for both clubs, but Karim Benzema’s absence could be a major blow to the La Liga visitors at the Parc Des Princes.

2020 winners Liverpool face a stingy test on Wednesday as Jurgen Klopp’s side visit Inter Milan. Both teams are currently in second place of their respective leagues, but bring plenty of firepower to the table. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are back for Liverpool after their involvement at the Africa Cup of Nations and will be eager to find the back of the net. Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez’s partnership will oppose the Liverpool duo at the San Siro.

Elsewhere, Manchester City visits Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday while Bayern Munich pays a trip to Red Bull Salzburg in the David vs. Goliath matchup of the Round of 16.

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

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Real Madrid

(Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET, CBS/Univision/TUDN/Paramount+)

For the fifth time in the past five years, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid will face off in the UEFA Champions League with both European giants aiming to claim a major scalp on its way to the final.

PSG is finding its form at the right time with the Ligue 1 leaders winning four of its last five matches in all competitions. Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi have combined for four goals in the last four league matches and will be the headlining duo for the hosts. Neymar remains sidelines through an ankle injury, while former Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos will also miss the first leg against his old club.

Real Madrid has only one league victory from its last four matches in all competitons and could be without star striker Karim Benzema due to fitness issues. Benzema has formed a deadly partnership with Vinicius Junior, but the Brazilian could be by himself in attack with the veteran striker not at 100%. Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard are also options to start in attack, but only have one league goal between them this season.

Inter Milan vs. Liverpool

(Wednesday, 3 p.m., CBS/UniMas/TUDN/Paramount+)

For the first time in European play, Liverpool and Inter Milan will meet as both teams aim for strong returns in their return to tournament schedules.

Liverpool is flying right now, winning six-consecutive matches in all competitions, and conceding only two goals in that span. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are back for the Reds, joining Diogo Jota in the attack for Wednesday’s first leg. The trio already have 36 combined goals in EPL play and have also registered 10 between themselves in this season’s Champions League. After defeating Inter’s rivals AC Milan on a pair of group stage occasions, the goal for Liverpool will be to do the same to its second Italian opponents.

Inter Milan remains well in the fight for the Serie A title, but turns its attention to European play and the latest tough opponent on its schedule. Simone Inzaghi’s side has won three of its last five matches in all competitions, most recently tying Napoli 1-1 on Saturday at the San Siro. Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez headline the attack for Inter while Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skirniar are two veteran defensive starters.

Red Bull Salzburg vs. Bayern Munich

(Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET, Paramount+)

Red Bull Salzburg has defied the odds to reach the Round of 16 this winter but now faces its toughest test yet this season.

Matthias Jaissle’s side hosts Bayern Munich on Wednesday, in what will be the second meeting between the clubs in the past two seasons. Red Bull Salzburg recently returned to competitive action from the winter break, picking up back-to-back victories against LASK (Austrian Cup) and Rapid Vienna respectively. Karim Adeyemi and Brenden Aaronson have been two of the stars for Salzburg in the competition this season and will need to continue that strong form to give the hosts any chance of an upset.

Bayern Munich comes to Salzburg off of the back of a 4-2 league loss to Bochum, a second defeat for the club in its past five matches to start 2022. Despite a brace from Robert Lewandowski, the Bundesliga leaders were left shocked on Saturday, and will need a quick response against a Red Bull Salzburg side with nothing to lose. Lewandowski and Leroy Sane are among the top-six goalscorers in this season’s tournament and will headline a confident bunch in Austria this week.

Sporting Lisbon vs. Manchester City

(Tuesday, 3 p.m., Paramount+)

Tournament favorites and English Premier League leaders Manchester City earned a favorable draw for the Round of 16, but need to be wary of a raucous crowd in Lisbon on Tuesday.

Pep Guardiola’s side has won three of its last four matches in all compeitions and overall is unbeaten in its last 12 matches. A 4-0 romp over Norwich City on Saturday saw Raheem Sterling net a hat trick, tying Didier Drogba for the most goals scored by an African player in Premier League history. An in-form Sterling is just one of many attacking pieces for Man City on the road this week, while Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden are also options to start.

Sporting Lisbon sits in second place in the Portuguese Primeira Liga and overall has won four of its last five matches. A 2-2 draw with rivals FC Porto on Friday snapped the hosts winning run, but Tuesday’s contest with Man City is a great opportunity to show Sporting Lisbon can hang with anyone in Europe. Paulinho leads the team with 12 goals in all competitions and could be a handful for Ruben Dias in the heart of the Man City backline. Sebastian Coates will anchor the Sporting defense and has experience against the Citizens from his time at Liverpool and Sunderland.

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