The Champions League quarterfinals continue this week. Top teams across Europe will meet in second-round clashes as they vie for a spot in the final four and look to extend their quests to be crowned Champions of Europe. Here’s what to watch.
Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich – Tuesday, April 18
Bayern Munich will travel to Madrid looking to overhaul a 2-1 loss in the first leg that saw Real Madrid snatch a pair of vital away goals. While that would be a tall order for most teams, Bayern aren’t most teams.
The Bavarians received a big boost with Robert Lewandowski returning to training on Sunday. The striker missed the first leg due to a shoulder injury sustained in the derby against Borussia Dortmund and Bayern struggled to find an attacking focal point in his absence.
Less certain is the status of defenders Jerome Boateng and Matts Hummels, who are both racing the clock to be fit in time for Tuesday’s clash at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Confidence is high at Real Madrid, with the club hierarchy already announcing Zinedine Zidane will be retained as manager next season, regardless of whether they become the first club to defend the Champions League title successfully or not.
Zidane rested Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored both goals in the first leg, in Real’s come from behind win over Sporting Gijon on the weekend. Isco scored a pair of fine goals in that match and with Gareth Bale out injured, the Andalusian attacker is likely to start alongside Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in attack. While Real’s attack will be in fine fiddle, it’s the defense that will have its hands full as it tries to contain the firepower of a full strength Bayern Munich side. If Bayern have an ace up their sleeve, it’s certainly manager Carlo Ancelotti who won this competition with Madrid only three seasons ago – with Zidane as his number two.
Watch Real Madrid take on Bayern Munich this Tuesday, April 18 at 2:45 p.m. EST on FS1.
Leicester City vs. Atletico Madrid – Tuesday, April 18
When all is said and done, it was mission accomplished for Leicester City who got out of the first leg at the Vicente Calderon with just a 1-0 loss. Leicester was never expected to win at the Calderon – no English team yet has – and escaping without a hiding was deemed the minimum for keeping the tie alive for the second leg at King Power Stadium.
Leicester were in fact unlucky not to have come away with a draw, with Atletico’s one goal coming on a penalty converted by Antoine Griezmann after he was felled by Marc Albrighton. Replays showed the France striker was felled outside the box.
The Foxes have a perfect record at home in the Champions League that includes an impressive 2-0 win over Sevilla and a hard fought 2-1 over Club Brugge. However, Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid are a different matter.
But this is a Leicester side that’s made its name by defying expectation and doing the impossible. Yes, the smart money is on Atleti, but don’t be too shocked if manager Craig Shakespeare pulls another rabbit out of Leicester’s hat.
Watch Leicester City vs. Atletico Madrid, this Tuesday, April 18 at 2:45 p.m. EST on FS2.
Barcelona vs. Juventus – Wednesday, April 19
Unfortunately for Barcelona fans, it there’s one tie that looks to be all but over, it’s this one. Barça looked dismal and uninspired in last week’s 3-0 loss to Juventus at Juventus Stadium. Luis Suarez and Neymar were flat, and although he tried, Lionel Messi was unable to singlehandedly haul his team out of trouble as he’s so often done in the past.
Optimists would argue that Barcelona have overcome these kinds of odds before, just last month against PSG in fact. But this is Juventus we’re talking about, a side that hasn’t given up three goals total in the Champions League this season, let alone in a single match.
Messi was seemingly back to his best in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Real Sociedad, scoring twice and assisting Paco Alcacer for the third. But even in that game, Barça’s defense was suspect, with Samuel Umtiti conceding an own goal and keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen forced to make a save late on. With Wednesday’s game against Juventus followed by this weekend’s El Clasico against Real Madrid, it’s no exaggeration to say the next seven days could define Barcelona’s season.
Juventus meanwhile, made relatively easy work of Pescara in Serie A on the weekend. With the domestic title all-but sewn up, Max Allegri’s team can fully concentrate on the task at hand and will look to manage out the game in typical fashion. The Italians boast an ironclad back line and have a dangerous attack with the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala ready to punish Barcelona should they expose themselves in an effort to fight their way back into the tie.
Watch Barcelona vs. Juventus this Wednesday, April 19 at 2:45 p.m. EST on FS1.
AS Monaco vs. Borussia Dortmund – Wednesday, April 19
Dortmund looked themselves again in Saturday’s convincing 3-1 win over Frankfurt in the Bundesliga. It was a significant turnaround from Wednesday’s shell-shocked performance against Monaco, which came one day after the Dortmund team bus had been subject to a terror attack using explosives.
Thankfully, the only injury was to Marc Bartra’s wrist, although investigators have revealed it could have been much, much worse had the bombs detonated just one second earlier.
Even in their emotionally traumatized state, Dortmund managed to claw back a couple of goals from a clinical Monaco side that, thanks to a Sven Bender own goal, managed a 3-2 win with just two shots on target.
With a one-goal lead and three away goals, the French side is definitely in the driver’s seat heading into the second leg at Stade Louis II Stadium. Javier Jardim’s young team has been one of the pleasant surprises of this tournament, undoing Premier League powers like Tottenham and Man City, and boasting the teenage goal-getting sensation, Kylian Mbappe.
While Monaco are the favorites, this is a Dortmund side not to be trifled with. With their composure regained and the firepower of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ousmane Dembele, and American teenager Christian Pulisic to call on, Thomas Tuchel’s side are very much still in this. The return to fitness of Marco Reus provided a further boon against Frankfurt and Monaco will need to be at their best to manage out second leg of the tie against a Dortmund team that in spite of everything, has managed five goals in its last two matches.
Watch Monaco vs. Borussia Dortmund, this Wednesday, April 19 at 2:45 p.m. EST on FS2.