For the first time in five months, the Champions League will soon be back on our screens. Unusually, the competition returns on a weekend but given that domestically, the football season has finished, fans are excited about UEFA’s premier tournament continuing from where it left off. Before the CL reaches one-legged ties being staged from the quarter-finals onwards, here are 3 things to watch out for this weekend, as the second legs of the remaining last-16 ties take place.
Since Hansi Flick took over as manager in November 2019, Bayern Munich have not looked back. They’ve won a remarkable 27 games out of 30 in all competitions under Flick. They retained the Bundesliga once again and hold a 3-0 advantage over Chelsea going into the second-leg this Saturday. Their squad is jam-packed with stars, including left-back Alphonso Davies, who put in a stunning performance at Stamford Bridge in February, Liverpool target and midfield maestro, Thiago Alcantara and Polish goal machine, Robert Lewandowski, who has scored a ridiculous 51 goals in 43 games in 2019/20. The German side are favourites for this match and for the tournament itself so it will be highly intriguing to see how they play in their first competitive game in six weeks when they face Frank Lampard’s men.
The two GOAT’s
Despite being well into their 30’s, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo remain a constant in the latter stages of Europe’s biggest footballing stage, but this year, both have their work cut out if they want to add another medal to their respective Champions League tallies. The pair have once again had great individual seasons and they looked in imperious form, when the La Liga and Serie A league campaigns started up again following the break caused by Coronavirus. Ronaldo recently won his second Serie A title with Juventus and the Italian champions are expected to beat Lyon when they host the French team this weekend. But, with the tie level at 1-1 it won’t be plain-sailing for them.
Barcelona have had a poor season by their standards as experienced players’ levels have dropped and big-money signings haven’t performed as well as they should have done. Messi has been close to his magical best though and he will be determined to help Barca lift their first CL crown since 2015. Although they will have get through a tricky Napoli fixture at the first hurdle, who they drew 1-1 with in February. As such, it will be riveting to see how far Messi can take his teammates and if Ronaldo can win the competition with a third different club.
A Tactical Battle of the Highest Order
Out of all the last-16 matches so far, Manchester City’s 2-1 victory over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu was one of the best. Since then, Zinedine Zidane’s team have bounced back impressively to beat Barcelona to the Spanish top-flight title. Meanwhile, City finished second in the Premier League and were lost in the semi-finals of the FA Cup to Arsenal, but since Project Restart, at times, their football has been scintillating. So, the stage is set for Friday evening when two of the best managers in the world to face-off in a fascinating encounter which will see which coach can outmaneuver the other.
Pep Guardiola’s side have two away goals and are desperate to win the tournament in what will be David Silva’s last season in Manchester. However, they often struggle against high calibre opposition in crunch Champions League games whereas Madrid are experts in these kind of situations. Despite often relying on Cristiano Ronaldo in scenarios like this in the past, the Spanish outfit still have enough quality to overturn their first-leg deficit and try and win their 4th CL crown under Zizou.
What are you looking out for in particular? Let us know in the comments below!