A quick turnaround in Europe sees the 2nd Leg of the UEFA Champions League kick off this week. It’s all or nothing as a spot in the final four beckons.
Tuesday 16 April
Juventus vs Ajax
The 1st Leg in Amsterdam was an enticing affair. Ajax, the fairy-tale team of this season’s Champions League, showed that they are in no mood to exit at this stage. Despite falling behind to an expert Cristiano Ronaldo header, Ajax responded with a wonder goal of their own from David Neres.
Despite being at home for the 2nd leg with a precious away goal in hand, Max Allegri’s men will be keenly aware of the danger posed by this Ajax team. This is the fearless team that obliterated Real Madrid on the Bernabeu pitch in the previous round, and they will be looking to repeat the feat.
Ajax will be without the services of suspended wing-back Nicolas Tagliafico, and Frenkie De Jong is an injury doubt, but Noussair Mazraoui should return. Juventus will again be without the services of Giorgio Chiellini, and the injury absence of Mario Mandzukic could see young Moise Kean deputize.
Barcelona arrive to this match at full strength, having rested the majority of the team for the La Liga weekend game against Huesca. A vital 1-0 away win in the first leg gives them a huge edge against underdogs Manchester United, but this competition is where stories are made. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men should not be underestimated.
Manchester United face an uphill battle, especially on the vast and expansive Camp Nou pitch that suits Barcelona’s possession game. They are also behind in quality and behind in the tie. You can expect them to sit in deep, dig in and attempt to punish the Catalans on the counter.
United will miss Luke Shaw to suspension and Ander Herrera to injury, which will likely mean starts for Diego Dalot and Fred. Barcelona could welcome back the fit again Ousmane Dembele into the lineup.
Wednesday 17 April
Liverpool put on a businesslike performance in the 1st leg at Anfield to win comfortably 2-0. Roberto Firmino excelled in that match with a goal and assist, giving Pool a strong advantage for the second leg. Porto will need to punch above their weight to overturn this match.
Jurgen Klopp’s men have been in irrepressible form, underlined by their weekend victory over EPL rivals Chelsea. Porto warmed up for this match with a comfortable win in their domestic league and will hope to be bolstered by home support at the Estadio Dragao.
Porto have a full strength lineup to choose from, with only Jesus “Tecatito” Corona an injury doubt. Liverpool also show a clean bill of health, Joe Gomez returning to the bench as an option in defense.
Spurs pulled off the shock of the first leg with a hard fought 1-0 new-stadium home victory against Manchester City. That win gives them a slender advantage going into the second leg, but City still hold sway with the odds makers.
The biggest casualty of that battle was captain and talisman Harry Kane who suffered ankle ligament damage that probably ended his season. The attacking burden will fall to first-leg goalscorer Son Heung-Min alongside the other midfield attackers.
Manchester City looked “in the mood” at the weekend as they overpowered Crystal Palace to keep their EPL title run going. Fernandinho remains an injury doubt, and his absence always has a knock on effect for City’s defensive posture. Otherwise, the Citizens are fully fit for this encounter.
Which match(es) will you watch? Have you revamped your team? Who’s your captain? Whom do you think will advance to the next round? Please join us in the comments as all of the exciting action unfolds!