In the days leading up to the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals, Chelsea suffered a 1-2 loss at the hands of Brighton. The loss badly damaged Chelsea’s chances of qualifying for European competition via the EPL table. The hundreds of millions the Blues spent on winter transfers seems wasted, and many of the players that were purchased will now surely want to jump ship if Chelsea fails to make Europe next season.
Conversely, Real Madrid and Manchester City both enjoyed convincing victories over the weekend, with City defeating Leicester 3-1 and Madrid downing Cadiz 2-0. Both AC Milan and Napoli were held to draws in Serie A as Bologna tied 1-1 with Milan, and Hellas Verona shared the spoils 0-0 with Napoli.
In the Bundesliga, table-toppers Bayern Munich were held to a 1-1 draw by Hoffenheim, but chasing team Dortmund also only managed a tie in their match with VfB Stuttgart.
Benfica and Inter Milan suffered surprise defeats over the weekend, both falling 0-1 at the hands of Chaves and Monza respectively.
In case you missed it, here are links to my UCL MD-10 Preview article and our Leg 1 Player Picks article.
Cheers and good luck!
Team News (Injuries/Suspensions)
The Portuguese club will travel to Milan without the injured Mihailo Ristic and Alexander Bah. Both players join PSG loanee Draxler in the infirmary. The good news is that Benfica will welcome Nicolas Otamendi back to the squad after the Argentinian served his suspension in the first leg. The World Cup winner did make a fatal error over the weekend that allowed the goal-winner from Chaves. Regardless, Benfica’s defense should be much stronger with Otamendi back for the second leg.
Inter Milan will be hosting Benfica on Wednesday without Milan Skriniar, who will miss due to injury. Stefan De Vrij is reportedly doubtful to start due to a knock. Hakan Calhanoglu is back in training and will push for a start, but Simone Inzaghi could opt to stick to the same starting lineup that delivered the 2-0 victory in the first leg. That may indeed be his plan, as he rested several players over the weekend.
Pep Guardiola has fully-fit squad with the exception of Phil Foden who continues to recover from a recent operation. That means plenty of slots on Pep’s roulette wheel this week! Nathan Ake, Ilkay Gundogan, and Manuel Akanji all started the Leg 1 victory over Bayern but were rested over the weekend, so perhaps we can draw some conclusions there.
Eric Choupo Moting is racing to recover in time for the match but is still considered doubtful. As of now the confirmed injury list includes only Lucas Hernandez and Manuel Neuer. Sadio Mane’s suspension by club for punching Leroy Sane was served over the weekend, and therefore Tuchel will have several options on the wings.
Stefano Pioli rested several key players against Bologna over the weekend in an attempt to field the same XI that defeated Napoli twice recently. Olivier Giroud is reportedly suffering from a knee injury and his participation is therefore in doubt.
Napoli’s mentality broke down against Milan in the first leg. As a result, key players Andre Anguissa and Kim Min-Jae were booked for unnecessarily harsh tackles towards the end of the match and are now suspended for the return leg. But the return of Victor Osimhen over the weekend should serve as a huge boost for the team’s morale, and left winger Kvaradona was rested and should be fresh. Giovanni Simeone is injured and will be sidelined.
Ferland Mendy is the only injured player for Real Madrid. Toni Kroos and Vini Jr were both left out of the squad that played Cadiz over the weekend due to muscle issues, but Carlo Ancelotti has indicated that this was mostly precautionary: “There is no injury on the tests, but there is no need to risk them taking into account we have a game on Tuesday.” When asked directly if the pair would be fit to face Chelsea, the manager said “‘Yes, they will be there.”
Chelsea will be without Armando Broja, Carney Chukwuemeka, and Kalidou Koulibaly due to injury. Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante are back in the squad and should be in line to start the match. Ben Chilwell is suspended and will not feature. Kai Havertz and Loftus-Cheek are both doubtful.
Confirmed Lineups (TUESDAY; will be published as soon as available)
AC Milan: Maignan, Hernandez, Tomori, Kjaer, Calabria, Tonali, Krunic, Leao, Bennacer, Diaz, Giroud
Napoli: Meret, Rui, Rrahnami, Jesus, Di Lorenzo, Ndombele, Lobotka, Zielenski, Kvaratskhelia, Politano, Osimhen
Real Madrid: Courtois, Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Camavinga, Kroos, Modric, Valverde, Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
Chelsea: Kepa, Cucurella, Chalobah, Thiago, Fofana, James, Enzo, Kante, Kovacic, Gallagher, Havertz
Confirmed Lineups (WEDNESDAY; will be published as soon as available)
Benfica: Vlachodimos, Gilberto, Antonio, Otamendi, Grimaldo, Florentino, Chiquinho, Joao Mario, Rafa Silva, Aursnes, Ramos
Inter Milan: Onana, Darmian, Acerbi, Bastoni, Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco, Martinez, Dzeko
Manchester City: Ederson, Akanji, Ruben, Ake, Stones, Rodri, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Bernardo, Haaland, Grealish
Bayern Munich: Sommer, Pavard, Upamecano, De Ligt, Cancelo, Kimmich, Goretzka, Musiala, Sane, Choupo-Moting, Coman
Keep an eye on the comments section for any late updates and be aware that lineups for the Napoli vs AC Milan and Chelsea vs Real Madrid will be released about an hour before today’s fantasy transfer deadline at 20:00 GMT.
We’ll post those team sheets here in time for you to make transfers and substitutions, just like we will on every game day. Make sure you’re here for that!
Good luck everyone and I’ll see you in the Comments!
How is your team shaping up? Has your squad been hit by injuries to any players? Do you have any tactical questions? Which matches do you plan/wish to watch as a fan? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!