The quarterfinal slots of the UEFA Champions League are half filled after Liverpool knocked out RB Leipzig, Porto put another early end to Juventus European triumph dreams, Dortmund discovered their potential with an 5-4 victory over Sevilla, and Paris Saint-Germain held off Barcelona massive comeback attempt. This week, the other eight clubs are done with their domestic league obligations and are preparing to travel to or host their UCL opponents.
MATCH-DAY 8 MATCH PREVIEW
Part 2: March 16 & 17
Real Madrid vs Atalanta: Zinedine Zidane’s injury list has considerably diminished since the 1-0 1st leg away victory over Atalanta, so he should be more confident of keeping Atalanta at bay. The Italian hopefuls will be travelling to Madrid with thoughts of vengeance after a somewhat controversial red card resulted in Atalanta playing with 10 men for more than half of the match. Both teams collected three valuable points in the league in preparation. Real Madrid started the weekend game with a surprising 3-5-2 formation and witnessed the return of Sergio Ramos from injury. The players looked lost in the new formation, and after 60 minutes they were a goal behind. Zidane reverted to the usual 4-3-3 by bringing in his stars Luka Modric and Toni Kroos to turn the tables and win 2-1 over Elche (Ranked 17 in La Liga). In Bergamo (Atalanta’s home), Gasperini rested players such as Romero and Pessina while cruising to a 3-1 victory ahead of travelling to Madrid.
Manchester City vs Burossia M’gladbach: While many critics consider Bayern Munich as the surest to qualify for the quarterfinals, Manchester City should have straightforward match against broken BMG. Manager Marco Rose’s departure from the German outfit early this year led to a dip in results in all competitions. In England, Pep Guardiola has two whole sets of players at his disposal that could form two starting-XI lineups worth meeting each other in the UCL final this year. It is worth mentioning that Manchester City eased to a 3-0 win over Fulham over the weekend with Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling all rested.
Bayern Munich vs Lazio: Having a 4-1 lead from the 1st leg, Flick is expected to rotate his team this week against Lazio. Too much rotation though could trigger the 1% chance Lazio has to cause media chaos in Germany and Italy in the next day’s news. It is difficult for Lazio not to score in any given match or against any opponent. A similar approach to the first leg may be the best option for the German giants to see off the free scoring Italians. Both clubs won during the weekend, each scoring three goals.
Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid: Chelsea is strong defensively, but Thomas Tuchel’s attacking experiments continue. His defensive and central midfield starters are fixed, but his continuous shuffle in the wings and in front has not stopped. Atletico’s Simeone rested his creative players such as Felix and Lemar this weekend, but he paid a two-point price with a goalless draw in La Liga. Chelsea had the same result with Havertz playing as a forward and missing four big chances. Tuchel will be missing Mason Mount due to suspension, so he will hope that Hakim Ziyech or Christian Pulisic can take over the creative role in midfield to keep Atletico in their half of the field.
MATCHDAY 8 BUILD UP
My fellow UCL expert Prakhar published his MD8 player picks last week, and David posted a Rate My Team article. Stay tuned for the live chat article for the latest Team News and you may keep coming back here for tactics chat and questions.
What’s on your mind as you shift gears from league play? Do you have any substitution dilemmas? Need help deciding where to move your captain’s arm-band? Have you started shopping for quarterfinal transfers? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!