Midweek Football Preview

Champions League time!

Champions League Round of 16 Leg 1

Napoli vs. Barcelona

Napoli take on Barcelona in this tie as the two teams slightly struggle in their own ways this season. Napoli have won 8 games since MD 6 while losing 5, Barcelona on the other hand have won 8, lost 3 and drawn 3. Napoli had a good group stage finishing 2nd but also being the only team unbeaten and defeating Liverpool as well. Their qualification though was down to Ancelotti who has since moved on to Everton and the home side are now being coached by Gattuso. Barcelona have also made changes this season as they appointed Setien as their manager who struggled at first but has since put together some decent wins albeit relying on Messi as usual. Barcelona currently lead La Liga by 2 points after 4 successive wins while Napoli find themselves 6th in Serie A. It should be an interesting game one I expect to be open, Barcelon’s qualification as per usual will depend on whether Messi shows up over the two legs. Keep an eye out for the likes of Mertens and Insigne while Koulibaly is out for the home team, Barcelona have Messi and Griezmann to call upon but Suarez is a long term absentee alongside Demebele. 

Olympique Lyonnais vs. Juventus

Sarri continues his Champions League journey as his Juventus team take on Lyon in France for the 1st leg. Lyon have won 10, drawn 3, and lost 3 since their last Champions League game while Juventus have won 10, drawn 1, and lost 3 in that time. Lyon just about made into the round of 16 while Juventus went unbeaten in their group. Since the new year Lyon find themselves 7th in Ligue 1 while Juventus are 1 point clear at the top of Serie A. Lyon have missed Depay since his injury but have the likes of Dembele, Aouar and others providing the numbers up top. Juventus have struggled to click at times under Sarri this season but Ronaldo has been in fine form this year having scored in 11 successive Serie A matches. Lyon might be a slight test for Juventus but over the two legs I fully expect Ronaldo and co to reach the quarter-finals. 

Real Madrid vs. Man City

Pep returns to Madrid but this time with City as he takes on Zidane in what should be a mouth watering clash. Real Madrid have won 9, drawn 4, and lost 2 while City have won 12, drawn 1, and lost 3 since MD 6. Real Madrid started the year brightly but have tailed off in recent weeks dropping down to 2nd in La Liga while City have been inconsistent throughout the season and that is why they are currently 19 points behind Liverpool although they have 3 wins in their last 5 games. For Real Madrid the big miss will be Eden Hazard who once again fractured his right ankle after coming back from the same injury just a week ago. Hazard has been missing throughout the season due to injuries and so while his quality is a miss Real Madrid have played without him throughout. Zidane has the usual players in Benzema, Isco, Modric Casemiro etc to rely upon while new players in Vinicius, and Valverde also pose sufficient threat. City have no such injuries to deal with although Laporte might be a doubt for this game, while we know the threat that Aguero, Mahrez, De Bruyne etc pose up front. This should be a blockbuster fixture with plenty of goals. Real Madrid will want to continue their journey in the tournament this season while Pep and team will treat it like their last tournament because of the ban they have received for 2 seasons, it might be their last chance for some time. 

Europa League Round of 32 Leg 2

Man United welcome Brugge for leg 2 with the score drawn at 1-1. United should reach the next round as they have a stronger squad and put in decent performances during the weekend as well. Brugge are not a bad team though and all they need is an away goal to make things interesting. Inter welcome Ludogorets to Milan with the score 2-0 in favour of Conte and team. This should be a straight forward win for Inter and the round of 16 awaits them. Sevilla welcome Cluj with the score at 1-1 and the Spaniards with their away goal should get the job done at home to reach the round of 16. Salzburg welcome Frankfurt after being thrashed 4-1 in Germany and Frankfurt should be heading to the round of 16 unless they implode in Austria. Benfica welcome Shakhter with the away side in front with a 1-2 lead. It’s all to play for these two teams but an away goal by Shakhtar would make it interesting for Benfica. Ajax take on Getafe with Getafe 0-2 in front after a home win in the first leg. Getafe need to get an away goal and that would mean that Ajax need to get 4 while the home side cannot conceded and have to score 3 at least. Porto take on Leverkusen with the Germans in a 1-2 lead but similar to the Benfica game this one is quite open. Arsenal welcome Olympiakos having scored a goal in Greece to bring home to London and a clean sheet and a couple more by the Gunners would do the trick. Wolves beat Espanyol 4-0 and an away goal by Nuno’s side would be the final nail in their progression to the round of 16. Roma travel to Gent with a 0-1 lead and an away goal is of utmost importance for the Italians if they want to reach the next round. 



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