The most important club tournament in the world will have an unusual finish, according to today’s times. Without an audience, with a few rematches of the 16th round and with a collective move to reduce the risks and start with a series of kill-kill that will lead to the grand final on 23 August. One and a half months to pure Champions League. The curtain opens again. And although the setting is very different from the traditional one, all the great actors will be looking for Orejona.
Activity will resume this Friday with two matches around 16. The series between Juventus-Lyon and Manchester City-Real Madrid was interrupted by the outbreak due to the coronavirus.
On 26 February at the French Groupama Stadium, Lyon beat Juve 1
Cristiano Ronaldo has just won Serie A and is on his sixth Orejona. Photo: AFP
The rematch will take place this Friday from 16.00 at Juventus Stadium on Fox Sports.
At the same time and ESPN2 in Manchester will play one of the most anticipated matches. Zinedine Zidanes Real Madrid, flaming league champions, will try to turn the series against Josep Guardiola’s team.
The magician Zidane has three champions as coaches for Real Madrid. Photo: DPA
The first leg, played on February 26 at the Santiago Bernabéu, was a 2-1 victory for the English with goals from Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne, from penalties. He had opened the Isco account for the meringue. “If there is one team that can turn this type of series, it is Real Madrid,” Pep predicted.
It will be the third collision between these teams at the Etihad Stadium: the previous ones were a draw: 1-1 in the group stage for the 2012-2013 season and 0-0 in the first stage of the semi-finals 2015-2016. There is one fact that is impossible to ignore: Zidane never lost a knockout series in the Champions League: he celebrated in nine he directed. For the appointment on Friday, Zizou will not have his referee and captain, Sergio Ramos, suspended in the first stage.
On Saturday, the round of 16 will end with two more series that were left unfinished due to the pandemic. The main course will be at the Camp Nou (at 16 on ESPN2) where Lionel Messi’s Barcelona will try to leave after the internal crisis that left him without the league in the hands of Real Madrid and straighten the course given his desire to win the Champions League.
A scene from the first stage: it was 1-1 in Italy between Napoli and Barcelona. AFP
A hinge is proposed for the culé team and especially for his coach Quique Setién, who arrives in question and without too much room for a new setback.
In the first stage, which was played on February 25 in Naples, they tied 1-1: Dries Mertens opened the account for Gennaro Gattuso’s men and Antoine Griezmann equalized for the Catalans, who ended up more satisfied with the result than with the performance.
At Camp Nou, the zero draw is enough for Barcelona to get a ticket for the last leg in Lisbon. But the team’s current does not allow to imagine a simple definition.
It will be Napoli’s first time at the Camp Nou for a Champions League match. There, the Spanish team is usually deadly in heads-up: they surpassed the last 19 rounds where they had not lost the first benchock played as a visitor. The last autumn in this context occurred in the 2002-2003 edition against Juventus: it was 1-1 in Turin and 1-2 at home.
In addition, Barsa has collected 35 matches (31 wins and 4 draws) without defeat at home in the Champions League, which represents the second best row in history, behind Bayern Munich, which reached 43 undefeated matches.
Lewandowski, Bayern Munich goal scorer who swept the Bundesliga. Photo: Reuters
Just the Germans will be the main characters in the second round of 16 collisions on Saturday, also at 16 and by Fox Sports. A series that only seems to need the final seal on its way to the quarter-finals because in the first stage, which was played on February 25, the Germans beat Chelsea 3-0 in England.
It reaches a data to the size of what could be a volantazo in the series: never in the history of the tournament (92 occasions) they gave back the blow to a team that won by three or more goals the first stage as a visitor.
The story will continue in Lisbon, the attitude that UEFA has chosen to build its “bubble” and define the tournament with a lightning strike, just one match per crossing.
The draw already left some certainty: Wednesday the 12th will be the first quarter-meeting between the surprising Atalanta and the mighty PSG. The Italians come from finishing in third place in Serie A a dream season but are encouraged more in front of a French team that parade on their country and has just lifted the French Cup. He won all four local competitions he played: Ligue 1, French Cup, French League Cup and French Super Cup.
Papu Gómez is Atalanta’s Messi. Photo: EFE
The match will be played at Estadio Da Luz, owned by Benfica, with a capacity of 64,642 spectators and which, of course, as in all remaining matches, will look without an audience due to the coronavirus.
In PSG, it is largely unknown for these hours to know if his character, Kylian Mbappé, will come under conditions, due to a strong pollution in his right ankle. “The recovery period is super short. We have decided to make an analysis of the situation on Saturday with the doctor to see if it is possible that he is on the bench against Atalanta. But I do not expect too much … “, coach Thomas Tuchel admitted.
On Thursday the 13th at 4pm it will be Atlético de Madrid by Diego Simeone. The Cholo team is seduced by this unexpected definition of a single match and they know they were on the side of the table, in the previous one, less complicated.
“We will give our lives to win the title,” Diego Costa expected. The quarter-final settlement comes against Leipzig, who come from sweeping Tottenham in the second round, with victories in both games.
Cholo remained in the wish in the two finals lost to Real Madrid and wants this time to be Aletis. EFE
The German team, founded in 2009, played for the first time in the most important club tournament in the world in the 2017-2018 edition, but did not pass the group stage. The same thing happened the following season. Now those led by Nagelsmann know that they have already made history and want more. They come from third in the Bundesliga, the same position that Aleti reached in the Spanish tournament.
The winner of this match, which will be played at the José Alvalade Stadium, where Sporting Lisbon is at home, will meet in the semi-final against the winner of Atalanta-PSG on 18 August.
Cuckoos appear on the other side of the painting. On Friday 14 August from 16:00, the winner of the series between Barcelona-Napoli and Chelsea-Bayern will meet Munich at the Estadio Da Luz.
One day later, on Saturday 15 at 4 pm, it will be the last quarter-final between the winner of Manchester City-Real Madrid and the winner of Lyon-Juventus at the José Alvalade Stadium. The winners of these crosses will play the second semi-final on 19 August.
The definition of the competition will be available on Sunday 23 August from 16:00 at the Estadio Da Luz.