Champions League last-16 previews including Man City and Real Madrid
The Champions League returns this week as the first round of last-16 ties get underway across Europe. Let’s take a look at some of the key games.
The Champions League returns this week as the first round of last-16 ties get underway across Europe. Let’s take a closer look at the matches involving some of our Champions League rivals:
Copenhagen vs Man City
Manchester City continue the defence of their Champions League crown when they take on Copenhagen on Tuesday night. Pep Guardiola’s men made light work of the group stages as they breezed into the knockout stages having won all six of their Group G games against RB Leipzig, Young Boys and Red Star Belgrade. They have been rewarded with a very favourable draw against the Danish champs and understandably, City are the heavy favourites to progress to the quarter finals.
The Citizens head into the game off the back of a 10-game winning run in all competitions. Their latest victory was a comfortable 2-0 win against Everton on Saturday thanks to a brace from Erling Haaland. City now sit level with Arsenal in second place – just two points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool with a hand in hand – so they are well positioned to make it four title wins in a row.
Their focus will now turn to Europe as Man City look to avoid a potential banana skin, but they cannot take Copenhagen too lightly. The Danes shocked Manchester United in the group stages having snatched second place in Group A behind Bayern Munich.
Copenhagen beat United 4-3 in a thriller back in November while they also got a very credible draw away to Bayern en route to qualifying for the knockout stages, so they shown they are capable of causing upsets against Europe’s elite.
City will be without Josko Gvardiol, Sergio Gomez and Mateo Kovacic for the game as they haven’t travelled to Denmark. Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva and Kevin de Bruyne are all pushing for recalls after being named on the bench against Everton at the weekend.
As for Copenhagen, they’ll be without Lerager due to suspension while Davit Khocholava, Theo Sander and Birger Meling are all injury ansentees.
Prediction: Copenhagen 0-1 Man City
RB Leipzig vs Real Madrid
Another one of this seasons Champions League favourites will be in action on Tuesday night as Real Madrid take on RB Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena.
Madrid eased through the group stages after taking a maximum 18 points against Napoli, Braga and Union Berlin in Group C. Only Madrid and City boasted perfect records from the group stages, so it’s easy to see why they are many people’s favourites to go all the way in the competition this season.
Real Madrid head to Germany having taken control of the La Liga title race with a vital 4-0 win over surprise-package Girona at the weekend. Jude Bellingham bagged another brace while Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo were also on target in the impressive victory. It’s left Madrid sitting five points clear at the top of the table so Carlo Ancelotti’s men are primed to win another La Liga title.
They’ll now be up against a dangerous Leipzig side who have the potential to cause an upset on home soil. The German outfit booked their place in the last-16 of the Champions League having finished second behind City in Group G. Leipzig failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their group stage games, which will be a big concerns when they face one of the most potent attacks in Europe, but they still have plenty of players who can cause problems for Madrid in attack.
Leipzig come into the game having been held to a 2-2 draw away to Augsburg on Saturday. That results has left them sitting fifth in the Bundesliga table – 18 points behind leaders Bayer Leverkusen. However, despite their questionable domestic form, Leipzig will still have a passionate crowd behind them on Tuesday and Champions League tickets will be sold out for this game, so Madrid will need to be at their best to win at the Red Bull Arena.
The hosts have virtually a fully fit squad to choose from. The only significant concern is Amadou Haidara who faces a late fitness test having missed the Augsburg game with a knee injury at the weekend.
Real Madrid are set to be without Bellingham as the England international picked up an ankle injury at the weekend. Antonio Rudiger is also out with a thigh issue so he joins long-term absentees Eder Militao, David Alaba and Thibaut Courtois on the sidelines.
Prediction: Leipzig 1-2 Real Madrid
Lazio vs Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich travel to Italy to take on Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico in their Champions League last-16 first leg tie on Wednesday night. The German giants qualified for the knockout rounds with ease having finished eight points clear at the top of Group A. They won five of their six games against Man Utd, Copenhagen and Galatasaray, and they’ll be looking to continue that form with a positive result against Lazio.
However, while Bayern have been excellent in Europe, their domestic form hasn’t been quite so impressive. Thomas Tuchel has come under pressure following Saturday’s comprehensive 3-0 defeat to title rivals Bayer Leverkusen. The defeat has left Bayern sitting five points behind Xabi Alonso’s men in the table so they face a battle to retain the Bundesliga title.
Lazio also head into the game off the back of some questionable domestic form. They managed to beat Cagliari 3-1 over the weekend but they still sit way down in eighth place in the Serie A table following a disappointing campaign. Maurizio Sarri will be looking to ease the pressure on his shoulders with a positive result against Bayern in Europe.
Lazio will be without defender Patric due to a shoulder injury but Mattia Zaccagni should return from a toe problem.
Bayern will assess Bryan Zaragoza as he’s struggling with illness while Kingsley Comon, Serge Gnabry, Konrad Laimer, Bouna Sarr and Alphonso Davies are all out through injury.
Prediction: Lazio 0-1 Bayern Munich
PSG vs Real Sociedad
The final Champions League last-16 tie this week sees Paris Saint-Germain take on Real Sociedad at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday night.
PSG continued their domination of Ligue 1 with a 3-1 victory over Lille at the weekend to extend their lead over Nice at the top to 11 points. They are almost certainly going to go on to win another Ligue 1 title but the Champions League continues to ellude them.
The French giants have spent a fortune trying to win the European Cup but they’ve still not got over the line have have crashed out at the last-16 in the past two years. They scrapped into the knockout stages after a 1-1 draw away to Borussia Dortmund on matchday six saw them finish second in Group F on goal difference from AC Milan.
Luis Enrique is under pressure to put a serious run together in the Champions League and they’ll be favourites to progress to the knockout stages against a Sociedad side who are struggling for form in recent months.
The Spaniard’s currently sit seventh in the La Liga table having won just 9 of their 24 league games so far this season and they lost 1-0 at home to Osasuna at the weekend.
PSG will be without Presnet Kimpembe, Milan Skriniar, Sergio Rico, Nuno Mendes and Layvin Kurzawa due to injury. Kylian Mbappe should return to the starting line-up after resting a toe problem against Lille at the weekend.
Sociedad could be without top scorer Mikel Oyarzabal due to a muscle injury while Sheraldo Becker, Kieran Tierney, Alvaro Odriozola, Carlos Fernandez and Aihen Munoz are all missing.
Prediction: PSG 2-0 Real Sociedad
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