Who will make it through to the Champions League quarter-finals?

Marilyn Dubinski Chelsea FC Leave a Comment

The business end of the Champions League has begun and we’re starting to see who the rainmakers are after the last-16 first leg ties. 

There are still four English sides hoping to make it through to the quarter-finals, but three of them have work to do in the second leg as Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool all chase leads. 

None of those three teams managed to find the net as they were beaten by RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid respectively, although things look good for Man City after coming away from Real Madrid with a 2-1 advantage.

Bayern and Atalanta both caught the eye after handing out thumpings to Chelsea and Valencia, but where do each of the remaining 16 teams stand and how likely are they to reach the last eight? Sportsmail takes a closer look at each of the second leg ties. 

Bayern Munich put on a show against Chelsea in the first leg and are favourites to progress

Bayern Munich put on a show against Chelsea in the first leg and are favourites to progress

Bayern Munich put on a show against Chelsea in the first leg and are favourites to progress

RB Leipzig vs Tottenham

Tuesday, March 10, 8pm (Agg 1-0)

Heading to face this talented Bundesliga side chasing a 1-0 deficit is hard enough as it is, let alone when you’re doing it with a mounting injury list and no recognised forward to call on. Spurs were toothless in the first leg, while Leipzig looked fresh and could have easily inflicted a harsher scoreline.

Tottenham’s lack of striking options has been hitting them hard in the league, with plenty of chances created but no Harry Kane-esque fox in the box to put them away. Jose Mourinho said he was confident the England striker would have converted a few of the chances they created against Burnley, where they drew 1-1 last time out. 

That became their fifth game without a win in all competitions, and the feeling is not good after a previous run of four defeats in a row – started by Leipzig. Add that to their fitness issues that sees five players on the sidelines – including Kane, Moussa Sissoko, Son Heung-min and now Steven Bergwijn.

Tottenham had no answer to Leipzig and were carved open by the Bundesliga side many times

Tottenham had no answer to Leipzig and were carved open by the Bundesliga side many times

Tottenham had no answer to Leipzig and were carved open by the Bundesliga side many times

The north London side must find a way to shut down the threat of Timo Werner in Germany

The Red Bull team have drawn their last two games in the Bundesliga since their first leg win at Tottenham, but had the luxury of resting their key man Timo Werner in the 1-1 draw at Wolfsburg. The young German star scored a penalty to give Leipzig the advantage at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and had plenty of chances to increase their lead. If Mourinho can’t find a way to shut him down in Germany, this tie could be over fairly quickly. 

The only new injury worry Julian Nagelsmann has ahead of this game is on-loan Chelsea youngster Ethan Ampadu – so impressive in defence for the first leg – who is a doubt with a back complaint.

VERDICT: It’s hard to look past Leipzig for this game, who showed the gulf in class between the sides last time out and looked like the home side for most of the game. Spurs struggled to create much with so many of their key personnel absent, and Leipzig will look to pounce on both their poor morale at present and lack of attacking prowess, and go for the jugular.

Valencia vs Atalanta

Tuesday, March 10, 8pm (Agg 1-4) 

Atalanta are scoring goals for fun and should have too much for Valencia in the second leg

Atalanta are scoring goals for fun and should have too much for Valencia in the second leg

Atalanta are scoring goals for fun and should have too much for Valencia in the second leg

Free-scoring Atalanta are raising eyebrows this season, and they certainly caused a few shocks in their first leg against Valencia as they thrashed the Spanish side 4-1 to take a healthy advantage to Spain.

The Italians are on cloud nine at present and are currently fourth in Serie A after four wins in their last five games – scoring more goals than Liverpool this season under Gian Piero Gasperini. In fact, only PSG and Bayern Munich have netted more than them in Europe this season – which doesn’t bode well for Valencia ahead of the return leg.

The LaLiga team’s patchy form doesn’t give much hope of a turnaround either. They have just one win their last five league outings, which has included two defeats and two draws. They are still only seventh in the table and hold out hope of a European finish, but – like PSG – they won’t be able to count on their home fans for their home game as the coronavirus strikes again.

VERDICT: It would be a big surprise if Valencia were in the hat for the quarter-final draw. It would probably be one of the greatest shocks in recent European history, and the fact Valencia would have to pull it off in an empty stadium makes it particularly unlikely. Atalanta are too dangerous and would only need one more to kill off this tie. 

Liverpool failed to have a shot on target against Atletico in the first leg

Liverpool failed to have a shot on target against Atletico in the first leg

Liverpool failed to have a shot on target against Atletico in the first leg

Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid 

Wednesday March 11, 8pm (Agg 0-1) 

The Spanish side have got Liverpool’s number after handing them just their second defeat of the season and restricting them to zero shots on target all game. 

‘The best side in the world came here and we beat them,’ Atletico boss Diego Simeone boasted after Saul’s goal secured a 1-0 advantage over the Reds in the first leg. Liverpool will be irked by the manner of their defeat at the Wanda Metropolitano – the scene of their famous Champions League triumph last June – after perceived dirty tactics by Atletico players and their over-the-top celebrations.

The holders of the competition are not in the best form after three defeats in five – including a 3-0 thrashing by lowly Watford – but recovered by beating Bournemouth 2-1 at the weekend to edge closer to the Premier League title. 

They will hope to summon up the spirit of that magic night against Barcelona in last season’s Champions League semi-final, when they overturned a 3-0 deficit to thump the Spanish giants 4-0 and reach the final. Atletico don’t arrive on Merseyside in the best of form, having drawn their last two games.

The Atletico players celebrated wildly in Spain, which should get Liverpool pumped up

The Atletico players celebrated wildly in Spain, which should get Liverpool pumped up

The Atletico players celebrated wildly in Spain, which should get Liverpool pumped up

Liverpool are monitoring the fitness of skipper Jordan Henderson, who suffered a hamstring problem in the first meeting, and left-back Andy Robertson, but Jurgen Klopp is hopeful they will both be available for selection. But goalkeeper Alisson is out with a hip injury, so Adrian will fill in.

For Atletico, there are minor doubts over striker Alvaro Morata with a thigh issue and winger Thomas Lemar with a muscle problem, but otherwise Simeone has a fully fit squad to call upon. 

VERDICT: With the quality Jurgen Klopp’s men have in their locker, you just can’t count them out. The German boss will be able to call upon his irresistible front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah, who, with 48 goals combined, can be a nightmare for any team if they’re firing on all cylinders. 

The daunting atmosphere of Anfield should also see them through, and you can be sure the home faithful will be doing all they can to make it a tough evening for the visitors. You just get a feeling that Liverpool will have a vendetta to see off Atletico – especially after accusations from players that they had been ‘celebrating as if they had won the tie’ after the first leg. 

Jurgen Klopp will hope for a repeat of Liverpool's semi-final comeback over Barcelona last year

Jurgen Klopp will hope for a repeat of Liverpool's semi-final comeback over Barcelona last year

Jurgen Klopp will hope for a repeat of Liverpool’s semi-final comeback over Barcelona last year

PSG vs Dortmund

Wednesday, March 11, 8pm (Agg 1-2)

For years PSG have been pining after a maiden Champions League success, but even with the signing of a host of superstars including Neymar, going further than the first knockout round has proved troublesome for the Parisians. 

That trend looked like it would continue after the first leg against Bundesliga side Dortmund, when PSG were introduced to a young forward called Erling Haaland, who scored twice either side of a Neymar equaliser to secure a 2-1 lead ahead of the trip to Paris.

Things are going pretty swimmingly for the German outfit in the Bundesliga, as while they trail leaders Bayern by four points, they have won six of their last seven, with Haaland already racking up 12 goals despite only joining in January. Unusually for the Norwegian, he’s currently going through a ‘drought’ after failing to find the net in the last two games.   

Kylian Mbappe has scored six goals in his last three games for PSG and will be a huge threat

Kylian Mbappe has scored six goals in his last three games for PSG and will be a huge threat

Kylian Mbappe has scored six goals in his last three games for PSG and will be a huge threat

And you won’t be surprised to hear that PSG are heading into this tie in good form too. They’ve won their last three games by an aggregate of 13-4 ever since Dortmund inflicted the defeat on them. 

Kylian Mbappe has scored six in that run and will be the man to watch for Dortmund, but many pundits will continue to make the case that Thomas Tuchel’s side aren’t challenged enough domestically before their big European games. The French outfit will be without Thiago Silva at the back, while Colin Dagba and Eric Choupo-Moting are also out.

The only player Dortmund won’t be able to count on is Marco Reus, who is expected back next month, but with the likes of Haaland and Jadon Sancho up front, they aren’t likely to miss him.

VERDICT: The biggest factor playing into this tie is that it’s going to be played in an empty stadium due to fears around the coronavirus – a huge blow to PSG, who would have been banking on their support to lift them and help them overturn the tie. 

Dortmund had the advantage of their famous atmosphere in the home leg and will feel confident of adding to the silence at the Parc des Princes. With that in mind, you would lean towards a dangerous Dortmund side to finish the job. 

Erling Haaland (left) scored twice in the first leg to put Dortmund in control of the last-16 tie

Erling Haaland (left) scored twice in the first leg to put Dortmund in control of the last-16 tie

Erling Haaland (left) scored twice in the first leg to put Dortmund in control of the last-16 tie 

Juventus vs Lyon

Tuesday, March 17, 8pm (Agg 0-1) 

This game is up in the air after Italy cancelled all sporting events with the country in total lockdown as coronavirus cases rack up, but this game should go ahead as the government decree does not include international sporting events. 

It should be played behind closed doors though, with Juventus officials failing in an attempt to play the fixture in a neutral venue in Malta to ensure they had some fans in attendance. The Old Lady will have to make do with an empty Allianz Stadium as they attempt to fightback against a 1-0 first leg defeat at Lyon.  

Juventus will play Lyon in an empty stadium due to fears around the coronavirus in Italy

Juventus will play Lyon in an empty stadium due to fears around the coronavirus in Italy

Juventus will play Lyon in an empty stadium due to fears around the coronavirus in Italy

Lucas Tousart (left) scored the only goal last time out to shock Juventus and give them the lead

Lucas Tousart (left) scored the only goal last time out to shock Juventus and give them the lead

Lucas Tousart (left) scored the only goal last time out to shock Juventus and give them the lead

The French side put in a superb shift to frustrate Cristiano Ronaldo and Co as Lucas Tousart’s first half strike was enough for a positive lead to take to Turin, preventing an away goal in the process. Lyon haven’t had too much to smile about in Ligue 1, however, with inconsistent results leaving them some way off the Champions League spots. 

Serie A table toppers Juventus played their last game behind closed doors and will have no problem doing so again against Lyon. They will still be confident of progressing after three league wins in a row and will be looking to their man for the occasion Ronaldo to steer them through to the quarters. 

The Portuguese ace has been in ridiculous form of late after a run of 13 goals in his last 11 games. He has failed to find the net in the last two, however, and Juve will be keen for the five-time Ballon D’Or winner to summon up one of his famous Champions League displays. At this stage last season he netted a hat-trick to haul the team into the last eight from 2-0 down against Atletico.

The Turin outfit will hope that Cristiano Ronaldo produces an iconic display at the Allianz

The Turin outfit will hope that Cristiano Ronaldo produces an iconic display at the Allianz

The Turin outfit will hope that Cristiano Ronaldo produces an iconic display at the Allianz

VERDICT: Juventus have been in this position in the past and have the tools to hurt Lyon and turn this tie on its head. If they have Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa on song then it could be a long night for Lyon – who have conceded six goals in their last two games.   

Manchester City vs Real Madrid

Tuesday, March 17, 8pm (Agg 2-1)  

Pep Guardiola got his tactics spot on at the Bernabeu to pull off a European shock and make it advantage City going into the second leg. Late goals from Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne cancelled out Isco’s opener in Madrid to give the Sky Blues a huge boost ahead of their home leg. 

The former Barcelona boss opted to play a new system against Los Blancos, with De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva deployed as makeshift forwards and Jesus fielded on the wing, so it will be intriguing to see if he sticks with a similar set-up.

The Premier League title won’t be coming back to the Etihad this season but they look to have second place in the league wrapped up with results largely positive, aside from a poor 2-0 loss at rivals Manchester United. 

A Pep Guardiola tactical masterclass was key as Man City shocked Real Madrid with a 2-1 win

A Pep Guardiola tactical masterclass was key as Man City shocked Real Madrid with a 2-1 win

A Pep Guardiola tactical masterclass was key as Man City shocked Real Madrid with a 2-1 win

Before that they had five wins on the trot, including a Carabao Cup final win over Aston Villa. This will be a huge test of Guardiola’s managerial pedigree as he chases his first Champions League triumph since 2011. City will be without Aymeric Laporte for the return leg, while Leroy Sane is back in training ahead of a possible return.

For Madrid, confidence is more or less on the floor ahead of their trip to Manchester. The team have lost three of their last four, slumping to a 2-1 loss at Real Betis last time out, with a 2-0 Clasico win over Barcelona masking the mood.

Manager Zinedine Zidane said it was their worst performance of the season, while Sergio Ramos and Casemiro laid into their team-mates and demanded more. To heap more misery on them, they could be without goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for the City clash, while left-back Marcelo is out with a hamstring problem. And captain Ramos will miss out after he was sent off in the first leg.

Confidence is on the floor at Real Madrid and they will be a wounded animal at the Etihad

Confidence is on the floor at Real Madrid and they will be a wounded animal at the Etihad

Confidence is on the floor at Real Madrid and they will be a wounded animal at the Etihad

VERDICT: It will take something special for 13-time winners Real Madrid to progress against City, who have much better momentum and in-form stars to take them through. De Bruyne was magnificent last time out, and City even afforded to rest the likes of Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero at the Bernabeu and still come away with a win. If they are in the mood at the Etihad, it will be bad news for Madrid.   

Barcelona vs Napoli

Wednesday March 18, 8pm (Agg 1-1) 

This fixture became the latest to fall victim to the virus outbreak, and no fans will be permitted inside the Nou Camp for this second leg tie, with the scores even at one each. While they won’t be cheered on by their fans, Barcelona will come into this tie in good spirits after some solid form in the league that has regained them their position at the top of LaLiga. A dreary 2-0 defeat to rivals Real Madrid aside, Quique Setien’s men have five wins in six domestic games.

And Napoli have enjoyed some recent success under manager Genaro Gattuso as well. The Italian side have won four straight Serie A games, including an impressive win away at title contenders Inter, and did well to draw against Barca in the first leg. 

Dries Mertens scored a stunner that day and Napoli will be looking for him to produce some similar quality in Barcelona. The key for the away side will be keeping Lionel Messi quiet, as they did in the first leg, although Antoine Griezmann is always a danger and struck the equaliser for the Catalans. 

Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann are Barcelona's key hopes of seeing off Napoli next week

Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann are Barcelona's key hopes of seeing off Napoli next week

Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann are Barcelona’s key hopes of seeing off Napoli next week

Dries Merten found the net last time out to frustrate Barca ahead of their trip to Spain

Dries Merten found the net last time out to frustrate Barca ahead of their trip to Spain

Dries Merten found the net last time out to frustrate Barca ahead of their trip to Spain

Barca will be without Arturo Vidal for the second leg after he picked up a second yellow in the first game, while Setien is still without the injured Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele, while Sergi Roberto and Arthur are both question marks. New addition Martin Braithwaite in ineligible for the tie. Napoli currently have no fitness worries for the meantime before the game kicks off next week.

VERDICT: If Barcelona produce the performance that’s expected of them, they won’t need any fans watching them. The Spanish giants should be able to call upon the experience of Messi, Griezmann and quality in the middle of the park from Frenkie de Jong and Busquets to make their way to the last eight. 

Bayern vs Chelsea

Wednesday March 18, 8pm (Agg 3-0)

Chelsea were overwhelmed by Bayern Munich at Stamford Bridge as they fell to a 3-0 defeat

Chelsea were overwhelmed by Bayern Munich at Stamford Bridge as they fell to a 3-0 defeat

Chelsea were overwhelmed by Bayern Munich at Stamford Bridge as they fell to a 3-0 defeat

No one gave Chelsea any hope of going to Bayern Munich’s backyard in 2012 and beating the hosts in the Champions League final. They pulled off the impossible then, and no one will be giving them any hope of repeating the miracle. 

Frank Lampard’s inexperienced players are chasing a three-goal deficit and are up against the highest scorers in Europe, with the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry – who both scored at the Bridge – on fire. 

Chelsea are looking good domestically, still looking favourites to finish fourth and secure another season of Champions League football next season, although results have been somewhat inconsistent, with wins over Tottenham and Everton sandwiching a lacklustre 2-2 draw at Bournemouth. Their form had been pretty uninspiring before Bayern stole the show in west London, losing to Manchester United at home before back to back draws and a loss at Newcastle.

Serge Gnabry (left) and Robert Lewandowski both scored and should help Bayern see it out

Serge Gnabry (left) and Robert Lewandowski both scored and should help Bayern see it out

Serge Gnabry (left) and Robert Lewandowski both scored and should help Bayern see it out

Bayern, meanwhile, can’t stop winning under Hansi Flick. Including their 3-0 win at Chelsea, they have won the last six in a row and lead the Bundesliga by four points, after recovering from a poor start to the season. Chelsea need no reminder of how dangerous Bayern have been in this tournament – and Tottenham know it too after they were trounced 7-2 at home in the group stage. 

Chelsea’s task of scoring four unanswered goals gets no easier as they have Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham out injured, while Mateo Kovacic is a new concern with an Achilles issue. Bayern have a few worries, with Ivan Perisic and Kingsley Coman racing to be fit in time for the game. Lewandowski could also miss out too after injuring his shin. Confirmation that this game will too be played behind closed doors shouldn’t have too much of an impact if Bayern carry out a professional job. 

VERDICT: If Frank Lampard manages to pull this off it would be the greatest achievement of his managerial career, but don’t count on it. This Bayern side ooze class and are menacing when you give them time and space. They are one of the favourites to win the competition and should have no trouble seeing out this one.  

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