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Champions League Round of 16 Second Legs: Preview

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Previewing This Week’s Champions League Round of 16 Second Legs

This week sees the continuation of the UEFA Champions League round of 16, with the four remaining fixtures taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday. Eight teams will be battling it out to join Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund, and Porto in the quarter-finals of the world’s most prestigious club competition.

The first half of the round of 16 fixtures delivered the kind of drama the competition is known for, with Portuguese side Porto providing the shock of the round by knocking out Italian Champions Juventus in extra time, despite only having ten men. If the remaining ties can match the excitement of last week then we are sure to have a brilliant week of European football on our hands.

So who will progress to the Champions League quarter-finals? Who will be sent packing? We take a look at this week’s Champions League round of 16 second legs.

 

Real Madrid vs. Atalanta (Agg. 1-0)

When: Tuesday 16th March, 8:00pm Kick Off

Where: Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium, Madrid

Real Madrid came away with a late 1-0 win in the first leg of this fixture after Atalanta midfielder Remo Freuler was sent off in just the 17th minute. Although the Italian side frustrated their visitors, Ferland Mendy eventually found the breakthrough with an 86th minute strike. Real Madrid will now be heavy favourites to see out the second leg.

 

Form Guide

Real Madrid come into this game in a good run of form, having gone unbeaten in their last eight home matches. They have recently formed the habit of scoring late goals, such as with Karim Benzema’s injury time winner against Elche at the weekend, so Atalanta will need to be on their toes. Real are fighting for titles on the domestic front as well, as they are currently embroiled in a title race against local rivals Atletico Madrid.

Atalanta also find themselves in relatively decent form, having won 4 of their 7 away games in 2021. No side has scored more goals than Atalanta in Serie A, where they currently sit 4th in the table. This goalscoring form can largely be attributed to striker Muriel, who is only behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku in the competition’s scoring charts. This will give the Italian side confidence that they can turn this tie around in Spain.

 

Key Players

Top scorers Muriel and Zapata will be key to Atalanta’s chances of progressing to the quarter-finals. The Serie A side will need goals if they are to overturn the first-leg deficit, which the front two will be relied upon to provide. The loss of Remo Freuler also puts added pressure on Marten De Roon. The Dutch international will have a big job on his hands attempting to control the midfield against the likes of Real Madrid’s Tony Kroos and former Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric.

Sergio Ramos is expected to return for Real Madrid after missing the first leg through injury. The experienced defender has proved to be the star man for Real in several big games during his glittering career. If him and fellow centre-back partner Raphael Varane can limit Atalanta’s front two, Real Madrid are sure to make it into the Champions League quarter-finals.

This tie is set up nicely to be an exciting Champions League round of 16 clash.

 

Potential Line-ups

Real Madrid: Courtois; Vázquez, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Kroos, Valverde, Modrić; Asensio, Benzema, Vinícius Junior

Atalanta: Gollini; Tolói, Romero, Palomino; Maehle, De Roon, Pašalić, Gosens; Pessina; Muriel, Zapata

 

Manchester City vs. Borussia Monchengladbach (Agg. 2-0)

When: Tuesday 16th March, 8:00pm Kick Off

Where: Puskas Arena, Budapest

Manchester City eased to victory in the first leg of this tie, winning 2-0 courtesy of goals from Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus. City produced a dominant display in Hungary, where the first tie was held due to Covid restrictions in Germany. Borussia Monchengladbach will have to produce an extraordinary comeback in order to advance into the quarter-finals of the competition.

 

Form Guide

Man City’s first leg win against Monchengladbach was their 19th consecutive win in all competitions. However, since then their winning run has been halted by a home defeat against local rivals Manchester United. Despite this, their overall form is still formidable. They have won all but one game since the turn of the year and sit comfortably at the top of the Premier League. Pep Guardiola’s side will take some stopping in their quest for their first ever Champions League title.

Borussia Monchengladbach’s recent results don’t make for such pleasant reading. The German side lost 3-1 to Augsburg at the weekend, meaning they have now lost 5 of their last 6 league games, drawing the other. They currently sit 10th in the Bundesliga. Progression in the Champions League also looks to be beyond them, with the task of knocking Man City out of the competition at this stage looking like an impossible one.

 

Key Players

Man City boast a squad packed with quality players. Last year’s PFA Player of the Year Kevin De Bruyne is likely to be key to proceedings; the City midfielder is one of the best creative talents in Europe. Ilkay Gundogan has also emerged as a star player for the Citizens this season, scoring 12 goals in 23 Premier League matches. He will look to add to his goal tally by replicating this form in the Champions League.

Borussia Monchengladbach’s top scorer and captain Lars Stindl has 12 goals and 7 assists in 31 games this season. If Monchengladbach are to do the impossible and make the quarter-finals they will need the attacking midfielder to be on his game. Goalkeeper Yann Sommer is also likely to be in the thick of the action. The Swiss international is sure to have his work cut out for him and will need to be at his best to keep out City’s potent attack.

 

Potential Line-ups

Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Stones, Zinchenko; Fernandinho, Gundogan, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling

Borussia Monchengladbach: Sommer; Lainer, Ginter, Elvedi, Wendt; Neuhaus, Zakaria; Hofmann, Stindl, Thuram; Plea

 

Bayern Munich vs. Lazio (Agg. 4-1)

When: Wednesday 17th March, 8:00pm Kick Off

Where: Allianz Arena, Munich

Lazio were swept aside in the first leg of this tie as current holders Bayern Munich continued their excellent form in Europe. Goals from Robert Lewandowski, Jamal Musiala, Leroy Sane, and an own goal from the unfortunate Francesco Acerbi cemented the win for the German side, despite Correa’s second half reply. Bayern look to be safely in the Champions League quarter-finals, but will still be aiming to avoid any scares in this round of 16 second leg.

 

Form Guide

Bayern Munich once again find themselves in formidable form. They lead the Bundesliga having won 8 of their last 10 matches, including coming from two goals down to beat rivals Borussia Dortmund earlier this month. They are the division’s top scorers with a whopping 74 goals, as well as being the top scorers in the Champions League with 22.

In contrast, Lazio are struggling in Serie A, where they sit 7th with just 2 wins from their last 8 away matches. They do come into this game off the back of a win, as they beat Crotone by 3 goals to 2 at the weekend. However, travelling to Bayern Munich is sure to be a much more daunting proposition for the Italian club.

 

Key Players

Bayern Munich’s star-studded roster needs no introduction. Striker Robert Lewandowski currently leads the way in the race for the European Golden Shoe with an incredible 32 goals in 24 games. The German side have world class players in nearly every position, with Thomas Muller leading the Bundesliga assists chart with 13, closely followed by teammate Joshua Kimmich with 10. Lazio will have a difficult job trying to prevent this free-scoring Bayern side from running riot on their home turf.

Lazio will look to prolific striker Ciro Immobile to try and fire them to victory. Immobile won the European Golden Shoe last season with 36 goals, and has continued his scoring form into this season. Veteran Lucas Leiva will be tasked with shoring up the midfield, a tough duty to have against the European Champions. Lazio will do well just to win the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie; progress to the quarter-finals would be a minor footballing miracle.

 

Potential Line-ups

Bayern: Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Sané, Müller, Gnabry; Lewandowski

Lazio: Reina; Patric, Acerbi, Radu; Marušic, Milinković-Savić, Lucas Leiva, Luis Alberto, Lulić; Correa, Immobile

 

Chelsea vs. Atletico Madrid (Agg. 1-0)

When: Wednesday 17th March, 8:00pm Kick Off

Where: Stamford Bridge, London

Chelsea pulled off an impressive away performance to come away from the first leg against Atletico Madrid with a 1-0 win, thanks to a spectacular bicycle kick from Olivier Giroud. Atletico will be attempting to replicate their performance from the last time they were on English soil, when they beat Liverpool at Anfield last season in one of the competition’s biggest upsets. They will have to improve on their first leg performance to do so, as Chelsea were fairly comfortable against Diego Simone’s men.

 

Form Guide

Chelsea come into the tie in relatively impressive form. Since the appointment of Thomas Tuchel as manager in January, the London club have gone 12 games without a loss. Their defensive record has been exemplary, with 10 clean sheets from these 12 games, although their attacking play has been somewhat sub-par, with new striker Timo Werner still struggling to come to grips with the Premier League.

Atletico have also impressed this season. They sit at the top of La Liga, having lost just 2 of their 27 league matches. Their away form has been excellent, with the Spanish side unbeaten in their last 8 away games, including 6 wins. They will fancy their chances of overturning the first leg deficit and progressing into the quarter-finals, although they won’t find it an easy task.

 

Key Players

Atletico Madrid will need to break Chelsea’s stubborn defence in order to have any chance of making it into the Champions League quarter-finals. Nobody is better suited to this task than Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez. His first season at Atletico has proved to be a fruitful one, as he is second in the La Liga scoring charts behind former teammate Lionel Messi. Barcelona must regret letting the world-class forward go to their title rivals. Atletico will hope Chelsea will end up regretting it too.

Chelsea will look to their defensive personnel to ensure that Atletico cannot find a way back into the tie. The central defensive trio of Rudiger, Christiansen, and Azpilicueta has served them well in recent weeks, and the reliable midfield general N’Golo Kante will be expected to shore up the back line. They are also missing the in-form Mason Mount and Jorginho through suspension, and will need their replacements to step up to the plate.

With the score line on a knife edge and a place in the quarter-finals in the balance, this is sure to be an enthralling Champions League round of 16 tie.

 

Potential Line-ups

Chelsea: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rüdiger; Hudson-Odoi, Kanté, Kovačić, Alonso; Ziyech, Giroud, Werner

Atlético: Oblak; Trippier, Savić, Felipe, Hermoso, Carrasco; Llorente, Koke, Lemar; Correa, Suárez

 

We hope you enjoyed the article ‘Preview: Champions League Round of 16 Second Legs’. Who do you think will make it into the quarter-finals? Let us know!

 

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Daisy is currently a final-year student at Newcastle University, where she is studying Politics at an undergraduate level and is on the committee of the Non-League Football Society. You can contact her at daisyruddock@hotmail.co.uk.

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