The UEFA Champions League once again takes centre stage this week as clubs battle for their place in the next round of the competition, but, which sides will be able to secure their place?
Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid
The match of the round will take place at Anfield, as Liverpool will be looking to overturn a 1-0 defeat from the first leg. There is a serious argument that their season hinges on this fixture, as they could just be left with the Premier League title if they lose this fixture.
The Reds have been in unbelievable form throughout the season, but they appear to have hit their glass ceiling after being defeated by Atletico, Watford and Chelsea. They lost in Spain 1-0, with the only goal of the game coming in the fourth minute from Saul Niguez. Liverpool failed to register a single shot on target in that fixture, and they will need to break down a stern defence to win this tie.
Atletico shocked Europe by winning their home leg of this Champions League tie, as they have been in disappointing form throughout the season in Spain. That was once again the case at the weekend as they were made to settle for a 2-2 draw against Sevilla. Alvaro Morata and Joao Felix scored the goals for Atletico in that fixture.
This will be a huge evening at Anfield, and the first goal will be crucial. Liverpool have the players to get the job done, but their recent form would indicate that Atletico will get their chances. The preference in this tie would be for Atletico to progress.
PSG vs Borussia Dortmund
This fixture could prove to be the most interesting of the round, as either side can still progress to the next stage of the competition. PSG will be looking end their recent hoodoo at this stage of the competition, after losing to Barcelona and Manchester United over recent seasons. There is still a lot of work for them to do in this fixture, as they will need to overturn a 2-1 deficit in the second leg.
The German side were excellent in that first leg, as a brace from Erling Braut Haaland gave them the advantage. The Norwegian striker has been in inspired form since his move to Germany, and he will be among the favourites to score the first goal in this fixture. Neymar did level the scores for the French side in that fixture, and that away goal could still prove crucial.
Dortmund warmed up for this fixture with another win in the Bundesliga, as Thorgen Hazard and Achraf Hakimi scored their goals in a 2-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. Meanwhile, PSG’s most recent fixture was called off because of the coronavirus. Their last fixture came in the French Cup as they overpowered Lyon to win 5-1.
Both these sides are very evenly matched and that ensures that it will be an interesting tie. However, the preference would be for PSG to get the win in their home stadium.
Valencia vs Atalanta
One tie that already looks over is the fixture between Valencia and Atalanta. The Italian side will travel to Spain with a healthy 4-1 advantage. The Italians blew away Valencia in that first leg, but their away goal with 25 minutes remaining in that fixture ensures that things are still interesting.
Hans Hateboer scored a brace on that evening in Italy, while Josip Ilicic and Remo Freuler also found the net. Denis Cheryshev pulled one back for Valencia, but they will have to put in a seasons-best performance here to get through to the next round.
Atalanta haven’t played since the 1st March due to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, but they won their last fixture 7-2 against Lecce. Duvan Zapata got a hat-trick on that evening, and Valencia will need to ensure they keep him quiet at the Mestalla. Meanwhile, Valencia drew their last game against Alaves. It is incredibly difficult to see the Spanish side getting through in this time, and the likely result will be a draw.
RB Leipzig vs Tottenham Hotspur
Jose Mourinho will have to pull a rabbit from his hat if they are to get through to the next round of the Champions League. Spurs will be without Heung Min-Son and Harry Kane for this fixture, and their attacking options are seriously limited. Not just that, but they will need to overturn a 1-0 deficit after they lost in London against the German side.
The only goal of the first leg was scored by Timo Werner, but things could have been much worse for Spurs had Leipzig have taken their chances on that evening. Spurs go into this fixture having drawn their last game against Burnley. Chris Wood opened the scoring in that game before Dele Ali equalised from the spot. Meanwhile, Leipzig also drew their last game, as they were made to settle for a 0-0 scoreline against Wolfsburg.
This tie is still in the balance, but it would be a huge shock if Tottenham are able to get through. Spurs’ attacking limitations will make them outsiders, and that will be something that all bettors will be thinking. Leipzig should get the win in this fixture.