Preview: Adelaide United vs. Wellington Phoenix

Adelaide United will be hoping to keep their title hopes alive when they host Wellington Phoenix at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday.

The hosts are just six points behind the current A-League leaders, but a victory for the visitors would lead to them going level with their opponents.

Match preview

Josh Cavallo for Adelaide United

Adelaide United were at their very best once again last weekend when they picked up another victory by defeating Newcastle Jets, and they did so once again with great attacking quality.

For the second match in a row, the Reds managed to score four goals in one game with every single one being scored by a different player to highlight the quality in the entire team.

The win last week extended their current undefeated run to nine games, in what has proven to be a dominant and impressive 2023 from the squad.

The consistent performances as of late have helped Adelaide United put themselves in genuine contention to win the league, as they sit just six points behind Melbourne City.

However, with only six games remaining the pressure will certainly be on the team to continue picking up results as they look to continue putting the pressure on the league leaders.

Adelaide United will be well aware of the fact that there are several teams directly behind them right now, though, and Wellington Phoenix just so happens to be one of them.

A victory for the visitors would put them level on points with the Reds, showcasing just how tight things are at the top of the A-League heading toward the climax of the campaign.

The visitors have put together a four-game unbeaten run heading into this match, with their latest victory against Sydney FC.

Oskar Zawada was once again on the scoresheet, which was the only goal of the game that highlighted Wellington Phoenix’s ability to compete in close contests.

That is what they will have to do once again this weekend considering the fact that Adelaide United have only lost a single match at home this season.

Team News

Adelaide United quintet Harry Van der Saag, George Blackwood, Josh Cavallo, Juande and Steven Hall all remain sidelined with long-term problems, making their recent performances even more impressive.

Luka Jovanovic is someone who will be pushing to get himself more minutes this time around after he scored his first goal for the club last weekend, but that could be given to him from the bench.

Zawada is the main attacking threat for the visitors heading into this match, and he will find himself keeping his place in the starting lineup.

The visitors will be without Clayton Lewis due to a knee problem, while Sam Sutton is also on the sidelines with a hamstring issue at the moment.

Adelaide United possible starting lineup:
Gauci; Lopez, Barr, Popovic, Kitto; D’Arrigo, Alagich; Halloran, Clough, Goodwin; Ibusuki

Wellington Phoenix possible starting lineup:
Sail; Elliot, Wootton, Laws, Sutton; Sasse, Rufer, Ugarkovic, Old; Ball, Zawada

Preview: Freiburg vs. Juventus

Trailing by a goal from last week’s first leg, Freiburg aim to overturn their deficit and reach the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday, when they host fallen giants Juventus.

Juve are more accustomed to life among Europe’s elite, but having established a lead to take to Germany, they will now try to finish the job in their last-16 tie.

Match preview

Freiburg's Lucas Hoeler celebrates scoring a goal with teammates that was later disallowed on March 9, 2023

After struggling at times to cope with their illustrious hosts in Turin, Freiburg at least rallied a little towards the end of proceedings and returned to the Black Forest after a 1-0 defeat.

While Juventus could well have added further to Angel Di Maria’s decisive strike, the Bundesliga side failed to force a single effort on target and recorded only a single off-target effort too.

Such a shortage of potency in the final third continues a concerning trend for Freiburg, who have scored a modest 14 goals in 11 games to start 2023, having spent the first half of the season defying the doubters by keeping pace with Germany’s top-four contenders.

After Ritsu Doan’s 89th-minute finish secured maximum points against Hoffenheim at the weekend, though, Christian Streich’s side still sit fifth in the domestic standings and are well set to guarantee European football for next season. They have also gone 11 games unbeaten at home in the league.

Streich has been in post for 11 years now, and recently extended his contract again. The veteran coach will lead Freiburg into their first home fixture against an Italian team, and what little European history they do have suggests an upset could still be on the cards.

Die Breisgauer have never lost the second leg of a UEFA knockout tie – both winning and drawing twice – and they will have to extend that streak at Europa-Park Stadion if they are to turn a fine campaign into a groundbreaking one by toppling the Old Lady and reaching a continental quarter-final.

Juventus' Angel Di Maria celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 9, 2023

Despite only appearing in the Europa League for the first time this season in mid-February, just two players have scored more goals in its 2022-23 edition than Juve’s Di Maria, who followed up a hat-trick against Nantes in the playoff round with last Thursday’s strike at the Allianz Stadium.

Streich was open in his admiration for the World Cup winner after the game, and despite reaching the grand old footballing age of 35, Di Maria is hungry for more silverware; with his side’s slim Scudetto hopes ended by both Napoli’s brilliance and a 15-point penalty, only the cups now offer such an opportunity.

In addition to reaching the Coppa Italia semi-finals, where they meet old rivals Inter next month over two legs, Juventus are targeting glory in the Europa League – and with it, a ticket back to the big-time.

After a haphazard 4-2 win over Sampdoria on Sunday – in which they let a two-goal lead slip in less than two minutes before rallying in the second half – Max Allegri’s men sit seventh in the Serie A standings, some 10 points adrift of the top four with games running out.

As a result, Juve’s best route into the Champions League is by winning Europe’s second-tier tournament in May. With a one-goal lead and having lost just one of their last nine matches against German clubs – winning each of the last three in a row without conceding – they are clear favourites to make the quarter-finals.

Juventus have also progressed from each of their last nine UEFA knockout ties when leading from the first leg, last failing in the 2010 Europa League last 16 against Fulham, when they were memorably beaten 4-1 by Roy Hodgson’s side. Furthermore, they have lost just one of their last 21 games at this level.

Team News

Freiburg coach Christian Streich on March 9, 2023

Once again, Freiburg boss Christian Streich will turn to boyhood Inter fan Vincenzo Grifo for inspiration on Thursday, and not only from set-pieces but also in support of likely lone striker Lucas Holer, who was left isolated in Turin.

Italy international Grifo has netted 12 Bundesliga goals this season and also scored twice in the Europa League group stage.

While Daniel-Kofi Kyereh is out for the rest of the season with an ACL tear and Philipp Lienhart sustained a thigh injury against Juventus last week, Woo-yeong Jeong has recovered from illness and could feature for the hosts; if Lienhart cannot return in time, Manuel Gulde may keep his place in defence.

Juventus, meanwhile, will be without Paul Pogba, who was dropped for disciplinary reasons before the first leg and was subsequently struck down by injury when practising free kicks. The French midfielder has tallied a total of 35 minutes of first-team action since returning to Italy last summer.

Federico Chiesa is set to be sidelined too, but chief creator Angel Di Maria is available. The latter has taken the most shots (12) and completed the joint-most take-ons (15) of any player since the Europa League knockout stages commenced.

In-form Adrien Rabiot failed to find the net even once last season but is Juve’s second-top scorer this term with nine goals following his brace at the weekend.

By contrast, Dusan Vlahovic has endured a six-game goal drought of late, his worst such streak since joining the club last January. Clearly low on confidence, he also missed a penalty on Sunday, but with Arkadiusz Milik absent through injury and Moise Kean an enigmatic presence, the Serbia striker will still start up front.

Freiburg possible starting lineup:
Flekken; Kubler, Gulde, Ginter, Gunter; Eggestein, Hofler; Doan, Gregoritsch, Grifo; Holer

Juventus possible starting lineup:
Szczesny; Danilo, Bremer, Sandro; Cuadrado, Fagioli, Locatelli, Rabiot, Kostic; Di Maria; Vlahovic

Match Preview: Real Madrid vs Liverpool

Real Madrid will hope to book their place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League with a win over Liverpool when the two sides meet on Wednesday night.

Real Madrid picked up a 5-2 win in the first leg at Anfield and will be hoping to finish the job at Santiago Bernabeu against Liverpool on Wednesday night. The Spanish giants are overwhelming favourites after their performance in the first leg. But it remains to be seen whether Liverpool can put on a fight in Spain.

The Reds are coming into this game on the back of a shock defeat against Bournemouth in the Premier League. And Real Madrid will fancy their chances of picking up another easy win at home on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Spanish giants picked up a 3-1 win over Espanyol in their last outing after failing to win three games across all competitions. Carlo Ancelotti will not want his side to take Liverpool lightly. So Real Madrid are expected to put on a professional performance and get the job done.

As for Liverpool, they will be hoping to salvage some pride with a strong performance away from home. They will need a miraculous display to overturn the deficit from the Anfield defeat. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

Real Madrid

The home side will be without the services of Ferland Mendy and David Alaba because of injuries. Carlo Ancelotti is expected to set up his side in his usual 4-3-3 formation, with Thibaut Courtois in goal.

Dani Carvajal will slot into his usual right-back role, and Eduardo Camavinga is expected to deputise in the absence of Alaba and Mendy as the left-back. Eder Militao will partner Antonio Rudiger at the heart of the defence.

The midfield three pretty much picks itself, with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos starting on either side of Aurelien Tchouameni. While the French international midfielder will look to break up the opposition play, Modric will add control in the middle. Kroos will look to break the lines with his creativity and long-range passing.

Karim Benzema will lead the line for the hosts, with Vinicius Junior on his left and Federico Valverde on his right. Valverde is expected to drop down into the midfield from time to time and outnumber Liverpool in the middle of the park.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Camavinga; Modric, Tchouameni, Kroos; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius


The visitors are still without the services of Luis Diaz, Thiago Alcantara, Joe Gomez and Calvin Ramsay. Diaz and Gomez have resumed training but are not fit enough to feature here. Meanwhile, Ramsay is done for the season.

Liverpool are also expected to line up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson as the full-backs. Ibrahima Konate will partner Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the defence. Alisson Becker will retain his place in goal.

In the midfield, Fabinho will play the anchoring role for Liverpool alongside Stefan Bajcetic and Naby Keita. While Bajcetic and Fabinho will look to break up the opposition play and keep the midfield compact, Keita will look to add drive and creativity.

Cody Gakpo is set to lead the line for the Reds, with Mohamed Salah on his right and Darwin Nunez on his left. Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino will be options on the bench for Klopp heading into the second half.

Probable lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Fabinho, Bajcetic; Salah, Gakpo, Nunez

Key Stats

  • Real Madrid have advanced from 26 of their previous 27 UEFA Champions League knockout matches when winning the first leg away from home.
  • Liverpool are one of four English teams to have defeated Real Madrid away from home in a European clash.
  • Real Madrid have defeated Liverpool in six of their last seven UEFA Champions League encounters.
  • It only took nine shots for Real Madrid to score five goals against Liverpool in the first leg.
  • Liverpool have lost ten of their 19 away games in all competitions.


Real Madrid 3-0 Liverpool

Real Madrid are overwhelming favourites here, and they are certainly the better team. Los Blancos exposed Liverpool’s weaknesses badly during the first leg. And Liverpool’s performance against Bournemouth suggests that they could be in for another tough outing against the Spanish giants.

While the Reds are no pushovers, Real Madrid are formidable at home, especially in the Champions League. That is why The Hard Tackle reckons the hosts should be able to pick up a comfortable 3-0 win.

Preview: Porto vs. Inter Milan

Deciding who takes a place in the Champions League quarter-finals, Porto and Inter Milan play out the second leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday, at Estadio do Dragao.

The teams’ opening bout in Italy ended with Inter taking the slimmest of advantages, but they have since continued some inconsistent form while their hosts are now back in the habit of winning.

Match preview

FC Porto's Otavio reacts after being shown a red card by referee Srdjan Jovanovic after receiving two yellow cards on February 22, 2023

A frustrating night at San Siro resulted in defeat for Porto last month, with Inter substitute Romelu Lukaku scoring the only goal as Sergio Conceicao’s 10-man side lost the first game of their latest adventure in the Champions League knockout stage.

Defying his recent fortunes in front of goal, Lukaku converted the rebound after hitting the post with 85 minutes on the clock, not long after Otavio was sent off for a second booking – the midfielder’s first was for dissent and a foul on Hakan Calhanoglu later saw him dismissed.

Portugal’s Primeira Liga champions had already been denied by Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana on a couple of occasions, but failing to find a breakthrough in Milan leaves them facing a must-win situation in Tuesday’s return.

Losing has become an unfamiliar feeling this season for the Dragoes, as in addition to winning their last four fixtures to finish first in Group B before the winter break they had won 10 straight matches prior to slipping up at San Siro.

Sensationally beaten at home by Gil Vicente just four days after that setback, normal service has since been resumed and Porto have beaten both Chaves and Estoril over the past fortnight, scoring six times in the process.

The latter result was a close call, as only a Mehdi Taremi penalty sealed the points on Friday, and they trail a relentless Benfica side already qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals by five points, having also played a game more.

Inter may have ended their 22-match unbeaten streak in the first leg, but Porto progressed from their two most recent last-16 ties – both in 2019 and 2021. While the defence of their 2004 title ended with a 4-2 aggregate loss to the Nerazzurri at this stage, given their visitors’ recent failings, the Dragoes will expect to overturn their deficit.

Inter Milan's Hakan Calhanoglu in action with FC Porto's Otavio on February 22, 2023

In the Champions League knockout phase for the second year running, Inter’s journey last season ended in defeat to Liverpool, but Simone Inzaghi’s side beat Barcelona to finish second in Group C during the autumn and are now 90 minutes away from a place in the last eight.

Having won the first leg for only the second time in their last 10 attempts at this stage, the Italian giants will aim to continue a trend of finishing the job in Europe’s premier club competition: they have won four of their last seven away games in the elimination stage, with all four coming in second legs.

Indebted to Onana and grateful for an increasingly rare Lukaku goal at San Siro, Inter have suffered more indifferent results on their travels of late, as a goalless draw with struggling Sampdoria was followed by a 1-0 loss in Bologna before another failure last Friday.

Serie A leaders Napoli hold a huge 18-point lead over the 2020-21 champions following an eighth league defeat of the season for Inzaghi’s men, and a sixth setback on the road – on this occasion, at lowly Spezia – leaves them with just the seventh-best away record in Italy’s top flight.

Precedent is not on the Nerazzurri’s side either, as they have won just one of their eight matches away to Portuguese sides in UEFA competitions, losing on each of their last two visits – though not since September 2006 versus Sporting.

Embroiled in a five-way battle for three spots below Napoli in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League, Inter also have a Coppa Italia semi-final tie against old foes Juventus to tackle next month, but they would first love to put a halt to their away-day blues and book a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Team News

Porto coach Sergio Conceicao on February 22, 2023

As Otavio misses out due to suspension after his red card in Milan, Andre Franco and Stephen Eustaqio are among those in contention for selection, with Sergio Conceicao having to make at least one change to the side that started the first leg.

Despite sustaining a heel injury against Estoril, Canada international Eustaquio should be fit to offer a more conservative option, while both Franco and Galeno – the latter of whom returned to the bench on Friday – provide more attacking potential. Galeno’s fellow Brazilian Evanilson is still struggling with a thigh problem.

Conceicao should revert to a more familiar lineup on Tuesday, with Mehdi Taremi and Matheus Uribe both back from the start after being benched at the weekend.

Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana will also return after being rested on Friday, following more criticism of club captain Samir Handanovic for his performance in La Spezia.

Setting up in Simone Inzaghi’s preferred 3-5-2, the visitors will bring in Hakan Calhanoglu and Federico Dimarco, but a two-way tussle between Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku to join top scorer Lautaro Martinez up front remains undecided.

Joaquin Correa is another option following his recent return to training but could appear as a second-half substitute at best, while Milan Skriniar may not make the squad due to a back problem – Sunday’s Derby D’Italia is a more likely target for the Slovakian defender.

Porto possible starting lineup:
Costa; Mario, Pepe, Cardoso, Sanusi; Grujic, Uribe; Franco, Pepe, Galeno; Taremi

Inter Milan possible starting lineup:
Onana; De Vrij, Acerbi, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Martinez, Dzeko

Preview: FC Koln vs. VfL Bochum

VfL Bochum will be aiming to move off the foot of the table when they visit FC Koln in the Bundesliga on Friday evening.

The hosts, meanwhile, will be hoping to build on a solid 0-0 draw away to Union Berlin from their last league match.

Match preview

FC Koln coach Steffen Baumgart reacts on March 4, 2023

Indeed, having conceded five goals without reply across two consecutive defeats to Stuttgart and Wolfsburg, Koln boss Steffen Baumgart would have been content to see his side leave the capital with a point last weekend.

With 17 points separating the two sides in the Bundesliga table, and Union Berlin unbeaten at home in the league for over a year, avoiding defeat was probably the best result that the Billy Goats could realistically hope to achieve.

Baumgart’s main concern may be regarding his side’s lack of potency in attack in recent weeks, having blanked in five of their last six matches heading into Friday’s encounter against Bochum at RheinEnergieStadion.

As such, it could be the perfect time to be playing the division’s bottom-ranked outfit, who have lost their last four matches prior to their trip to Cologne.

VfL Bochum's Kevin Stoger scores their first goal from the penalty spot on February 8, 2023

Indeed, despite putting together a solid run of form in Thomas Letsch’s first few months at the club to move outside of the relegation zone, Bochum have lost seven of their last eight matches in all competitions to fall back to the bottom of the table.

The bulk of Bochum’s growing foundations under Letsch was built on strong home form, with the 54-year-old sensationally winning each of his first five league games at Vonovia-Ruhrstadion after being appointed in late September.

However, even that has deserted them in recent weeks, with a disastrous 2-0 defeat at home to relegation rivals Schalke 04 last weekend seeing their opponents swap places with them in the table.

With tough fixtures against Champions League representatives RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt either side of the international break, Letsch and his players are clearly under significant pressure to achieve a positive result on Friday.

Team News

Ondrej Duda celebrates scoring for FC Koln on November 3, 2022

Koln’s lack of goal threat has not been helped by long-term injuries to crucial attackers such as Sebastian Andersson, Mark Uth, Florian Dietz and Jan Thielmann, while defenders Luca Kilian, Mads Pedersen and Rijad Smaljic are all unavailable too.

After producing a disciplined performance against high-flying Union Berlin last time out, Baumgart is unlikely to make any changes to his starting XI, even if he will be hoping for more attacking fluency against weaker opponents.

Bochum, meanwhile, will travel without Simon Zoller, Gerrit Holtmann and Cristian Gamboa due to existing injury problems, but Philipp Hofmann shook off a cold to start against Schalke and should be included in the matchday squad once again.

Letsch may look to bring Cameroon international Pierre Kunde into his midfield after losing control in that area of the pitch during their damaging defeat to Schalke last weekend.

FC Koln possible starting lineup:
Schwabe; Schmitz, Hubers, Chabot, Hector; Martel, Skhiri; Maina, Ljubicic, Kainz; Tigges

VfL Bochum possible starting lineup:
Riemann; Janko, Masovic, Schlotterbeck, Soares; Forster, Kunde, Stoger; Asano, Hofmann, Antwi-Adjei

Preview: Sporting Lisbon vs. Arsenal

Resuming their quest for an elusive continental crown, Arsenal travel to the Estadio Jose Alvalade XXI for the first leg of their Europa League last-16 clash with Sporting Lisbon on Thursday night.

The Gunners progressed as winners from Group A to set up a tie with Ruben Amorim’s former Champions League contenders, who dished out a 5-1 beating to FC Midtjylland in the playoffs.

Match preview

Sporting Lisbon coach Ruben Amorim on January 15, 2023

Already familiar with North London after doing battle with Tottenham Hotspur during the group stage of the Champions League, Sporting’s efforts to pip Spurs and Eintracht Frankfurt to a top-two spot proved futile, as they settled for a third-placed berth and spot in Europe’s second-tier tournament as a result.

Entering their knockout round playoff tie against Midtjylland as the overwhelming favourites to progress, Sporting were indebted to a stoppage-time Sebastian Coates equaliser in a 1-1 first-leg draw, but they turned up the heat in Denmark, storming to a 4-0 success to enter the hat for the last-16 draw.

Dreams of a domestic and continental double are surely unfounded for Amorim’s men, though, as Sporting occupy fourth place in the Primeira Liga table and are a whopping 15 points behind runaway leaders Benfica, despite winning their last three top-flight games.

A 77th-minute strike from Paulinho was enough to propel Sporting to a 1-0 win at Portimonense on Saturday – their fourth win on the bounce in all tournaments and third clean sheet in succession – but only two of their last four home matches in all tournaments have ended in victory.

Still waiting to add to their sole European triumph from the 1963-64 European Cup Winners’ Cup, Sporting’s only Europa League last-16 exit in its current format came against eventual winners Atletico Madrid in 2009-10 – a good omen for Arsenal if they can make lightning strike twice in Portugal.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta celebrates on March 4, 2023

Bypassing an extra two games in the knockout round playoffs was a necessity for Arsenal amid their remarkable Premier League title charge, and a lowly 2-0 loss to PSV Eindhoven proved inconsequential as the Gunners topped Europa League Group A with 15 points from 18 on offer.

Since last taking to the field in continental competition, Mikel Arteta’s young guns have managed to keep Manchester City at bay in the English top flight and hold a five-point advantage at the top with 12 games left to play, although their unassailable lead would have been reduced had it not been for one of the most dramatic last-minute goals the Emirates will ever witness.

After falling behind to Philip Billing and Marcos Senesi’s efforts against Bournemouth, Arsenal fought back through Thomas Partey and Ben White before academy product Reiss Nelson sent the home crowd into delirium in the seventh minute of added time, sealing a scarcely believable 3-2 win in another true test of the Gunners’ title credentials.

While Premier League glory is by no means a guarantee, it would take a catastrophic collapse for Arsenal to drop out of the top four – making success in the Europa League less of a priority than in previous years – but they have never been knocked out in the last 16 of Europe’s second-tier tournament and are no doubt growing restless for a slice of continental glory.

En route to the final in the 2018-19 season, Arsenal edged past Sporting 1-0 during the group stage thanks to Danny Welbeck’s winner in Portugal, and a subsequent goalless draw at the Emirates made it four games without a win or goal for the Portuguese giants against their London counterparts.

Team News

Arsenal's Leandro Trossard walks off the pitch to be substituted after sustaining an injury on March 4, 2023

Sporting’s second-leg thrashing of Midtjylland in the playoff round was not the perfect affair for Amorim, as midfielder Manuel Ugarte picked up his third European booking of the season and will miss Thursday’s game through suspension.

With Daniel Braganca still recovering from a ruptured cruciate ligament, 19-year-old Argentina starlet Mateo Tanlongo should come in for a start alongside Hidemasa Morita, but Amorim has no other injury or suspension concerns to factor in.

Amorim should not shy away from making a few defensive alterations, bringing Matheus Reis and Jeremiah St. Juste back in from the start, but Hector Bellerin will likely start on the bench against his old club.

As for Arsenal, Arteta is at risk of being without his three recognised central attacking options after Leandro Trossard came off with a groin problem in the first half of the win over Bournemouth.

Initial assessments have ruled out a serious injury, but the Belgian is likely to miss out here alongside Gabriel Jesus and Mohamed Elneny, while Eddie Nketiah’s ankle problem is unlikely to heal in time for the first leg either.

Gabriel Martinelli should therefore shoulder the goalscoring burden in the number nine spot, allowing Emile Smith Rowe – who came off the bench against Bournemouth before being taken off for Nelson – to come in for his first start of the season on the left-hand side.

Arteta will be tempted to shuffle the pack some more as Matt Turner and Jorginho push for recalls, but Kieran Tierney is unlikely to be involved due to illness.

Sporting Lisbon possible starting lineup:
Adan; Inacio, Coates, St. Juste; Esgaio, Tanlongo, Morita, Reis; Edwards, Paulinho, Goncalves

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Turner; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Xhaka, Jorginho; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Martinelli

Preview: Bayern Munich vs. Paris Saint-Germain

Ninety minutes that could potentially make or break Christophe Galtier’s time in the Paris Saint-Germain hotseat await on Wednesday night, as Bayern Munich welcome the French champions to the Allianz Arena in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 showdown.

A solitary strike from ex-PSG product Kingsley Coman was enough to propel the Bavarians to a 1-0 first-leg win three weeks ago, as a familiar sense of deja vu rears its ugly head for the ardent Parisiens.

Match preview

Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on February 14, 2023

Shades of the 2019-20 final arose in the French capital during Bayern’s reunion with PSG, who lost the showpiece event three years ago to a Coman winner, and it was an identical story when the German champions came to town for the first leg of their last-16 tie.

On Valentine’s Day, there was no love lost between Coman and PSG, who succumbed to a 53rd-minute winner from their former academy graduate, and Julian Nagelsmann’s side survived a late sending off for Benjamin Pavard to put one foot firmly in the last eight.

Also halfway there to revenge over PSG for eliminating them in the 2020-21 quarter-finals, Bayern ought to feel hopeful of avoiding just a second last-16 exit from their last 12 Champions League campaigns – the perennial German champions bowed out at this point to Liverpool in 2018-19.

Furthermore, not since the 2010-11 campaign have Bayern been eliminated from the Champions League when winning the first leg of a knockout tie, while 15 of their last 17 top-tier European games at the Allianz Arena have ended in victory, including all three of their group-stage games against Barcelona, Inter Milan and Viktoria Plzen this season – with three clean sheets in tow.

Not since April 2018 have Bayern failed to score at home in the Champions League, and Nagelsmann’s men remained in control of the tightly-fought Bundesliga title race thanks to a 2-1 win over Stuttgart on Saturday, only a few hours before a new chapter of history was written for PSG.

Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring for Paris Saint-Germain on March 4, 2023

While more undesirable defending was a minor blot on the notebook, PSG’s 4-2 win over Nantes in Ligue 1 at the weekend will go down in history for the French champions, who etched Kylian Mbappe’s name into their record books as the club’s all-time top goalscorer.

Level with Edinson Cavani on 200 goals for PSG heading into the contest, Mbappe struck PSG’s fourth and final goal late on before letting emotion take over, but there is little time for the 24-year-old to bask in Parisian glory while their European destiny hangs in the balance, again.

With the axe hovering dangerously above his head, Galtier surely knows what is coming if PSG are eliminated from the Champions League last 16 for the fifth time in seven seasons, and the capital giants have only progressed from one of their six Champions League knockout ties in which they have lost the first leg.

PSG managed to take seven points from their three Champions League group-stage games on the road earlier this season, but not since October 2020 have they managed to keep a European clean sheet away from home – a run of 12 games with their shaky defence being breached.

From the 12 previous meetings between Bayern and PSG, the German champions have six wins to their name, while the French champions have also racked up a half-dozen victories, but Wednesday’s game will prove to be an unlucky 13 for one manager.

Team News

PSG's Neymar goes down injured on September 10, 2022

Pavard’s late sending off in the first leg means that the Frenchman will serve a one-match suspension here, leaving Nagelsmann with quite the defensive quandary while Lucas Hernandez continues his recovery from his ACL injury.

Should Nagelsmann persist with a back three, Josip Stanisic could line up alongside Dayot Upamecano and Matthijs de Ligt after all three started the win over Stuttgart, while Manuel Neuer and Noussair Mazraoui are keeping Hernandez company in the medical bay.

The injury-plagued Sadio Mane was able to make an appearance off the bench against Stuttgart, but Nagelsmann has warned the ex-Liverpool man that he must fight for his right to make the starting XI, and another substitute outing is seemingly on the cards for the Senegal international as Thomas Muller and Leroy Sane compete to join Jamal Musiala in the final third.

Meanwhile, PSG have announced that Neymar will now miss the rest of the season as he prepares to undergo ankle surgery, while Presnel Kimpembe (Achilles) is also out for the long term, but Renato Sanches has recovered from a hamstring issue and is in the squad.

In another midfield boost, Marco Verratti is back from a domestic suspension and will likely come in for Warren Zaire-Emery – who will turn 17 on Wednesday – in spite of the teenager’s eye-catching showing during a 57-minute cameo in the first leg.

Over the past week, PSG have been rocked by charges of rape brought against right-back Achraf Hakimi – which the right-back denies – but he is currently free to leave the country and should be available for selection as he battles back from a thigh injury.

Bayern Munich possible starting lineup:
Sommer; Stanisic, Upamecano, De Ligt; Coman, Kimmich, Goretzka, Davies; Sane, Musiala; Choupo-Moting

Paris Saint-Germain possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Pereira, Marquinhos, Ramos; Hakimi, Ruiz, Verratti, Vitinha, Mendes; Messi, Mbappe

Preview: Chelsea vs. Borussia Dortmund

Travelling to Stamford Bridge with a slender 1-0 lead to protect, Borussia Dortmund aim to finish the job in the second leg of their last-16 Champions League affair with Chelsea on Tuesday night.

Karim Adeyemi’s sensational solo winner settled a tight contest at the Westfalenstadion three weeks ago, as Graham Potter goes in search of a priceless win that may just buy him some more time in the dugout.

Match preview

Chelsea head coach Graham Potter during defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on February 26, 2023.

Whether Adeyemi’s stunning winner or his backflip celebration was more impressive is another debate entirely, but the German starlet’s crucial contribution in the first leg has Dortmund just 90 minutes away from putting another dampener on Chelsea’s miserable 2023.

A combination of Gregor Kobel, the woodwork and an astounding Emre Can clearance off the line kept Chelsea at bay, and in a game where profligacy seemed set to win out, Adeyemi took the ball down brilliantly inside his own half, skipped past Enzo Fernandez and Kepa Arrizabalaga and slotted home.

While there were reasons for an under-fire Potter to leave Germany with cautious optimism, subsequent defeats to Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur only led for the sacking calls to grow louder and louder, and not all Chelsea fans were pleased to see Wesley Fofana sink Leeds United at the weekend to end a six-game winless run for their side.

With the Blues’ clashes against Leeds and Dortmund said to be pivotal to Potter’s short-term future, the Englishman can certainly get back into the good books of the powers-that-be by turning their last-16 tie around, but exits at this stage are not a novelty to the West London giants.

Indeed, Chelsea suffered four successive Champions League last-16 exits between 2014-15 and 2019-20 before going all the way in the 2020-21 campaign, but from their last seven Champions League knockout ties in which they have lost the first leg away from home, they have advanced from four of them.

Fofana’s header versus Leeds also ended a three-game run without making the net ripple for Chelsea, who have four clean sheets from their last six contests at Stamford Bridge, but their paltry goal tally of just four strikes from their last 10 games is frankly egregious.

Borussia Dortmund's Karim Adeyemi celebrates scoring against Chelsea on February 15, 2023

Having experienced the true meaning of close but no cigar season after season, Dortmund enter the spring months with domestic and European titles well within reach thanks to an astonishing run of form since the turn of the year.

The team led by Edin Terzic have played 10 competitive games across the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League since the World Cup, and they have remarkably won all 10 of them, most recently sinking Leipzig 2-1 in Friday’s Bundesliga battle courtesy of Can and Marco Reus’s efforts.

Still only trailing first-placed Bayern Munich on goal difference in the Bundesliga standings, BVB are on the warpath, and just a second Champions League quarter-final berth since the 2016-17 season is firmly within their grasp.

Dortmund’s stunning green streak in 2023 also includes five successive away victories in domestic action – during which time they have shipped just two goals while scoring nine themselves – but not since November 2020 have they managed to keep a Champions League clean sheet on the road.

The English capital is not kind to BVB either, as they have lost their last five European battles in London since beating Arsenal 2-1 in 2013, but the last time that they won both legs of a Champions League knockout tie in 1996-97, Dortmund ended up lifting the trophy aloft.

Team News

Mason Mount in action for Chelsea on September 14, 2022

The Stamford Bridge doctors are still working overtime on a number of players, with N’Golo Kante, Armando Broja, Edouard Mendy, Cesar Azpilicueta and Thiago Silva all expected to miss out, but Christian Pulisic will be in the squad and Reece James could yet be passed fit.

Mason Mount, who missed the win over Leeds with an abdominal problem, will sit on the naughty step for the second leg – having incurred a one-game European ban for yellow card accumulation – and Potter may see no need to stray from the 3-4-3 setup from the weekend’s success, but Trevoh Chalobah would be required to step in for the ineligible Benoit Badiashile in that case.

James’s expected return from hamstring tightness should see Ruben Loftus-Cheek drop down to the bench, and Potter will likely continue to keep faith with the misfiring Kai Havertz, whose deputy Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang memorably did not make the squad for the knockout stages.

Dortmund boss Edin Terzic also has a suspended player in his ranks in the form of right-back Julian Ryerson, but Marius Wolf was always going to get the nod here, and since scoring the winner in the first leg, Adeyemi has sustained a thigh injury and will play no part in Tuesday’s game.

Adeyemi’s fellow attacking protege Youssoufa Moukoko is also out of contention alongside Mateu Morey, Abdoulaye Kamara and Julien Duranville, and a question mark is hanging over the head of first-choice goalkeeper Kobel, who had to drop out of the first XI against Leipzig due to a thigh complaint.

A comeback on Tuesday for Kobel has not been ruled out, but Alexander Meyer should still deputise in goal, while testicular cancer survivor Sebastien Haller should fend off the recently-recovered Donyell Malen to operate at the tip of the attack for Terzic’s men

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Kepa; Chalobah, Koulibaly, Fofana; James, Kovacic, Fernandez, Chilwell; Sterling, Havertz, Felix

Borussia Dortmund possible starting lineup:
Meyer; Wolf, Sule, Schlotterbeck, Guerreiro ; Ozcan, Can, Bellingham; Brandt, Haller, Reus

Preview: Osasuna vs. Celta Vigo

Osasuna will be bidding to make it three straight wins in all competitions when they welcome Celta Vigo to Estadio El Sadar in La Liga on Monday night.

The home side are currently eighth in the table, one point behind sixth-placed Rayo Vallecano, while Celta sit 13th, four points clear of the relegation zone at a key stage of the season.

Match preview

Osasuna's Ez Abde celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 1, 2023

Osasuna have put themselves in a strong position to reach this season’s Copa del Rey final, having recorded a 1-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of their semi-final last week.

The second leg of the last-four contest will not take place until the start of April, though, so they can focus on the league in the coming weeks, with the team preparing to take on Celta, Valencia, Villarreal and Mallorca before the end of the month.

Los Rojillos were involved in a five-goal thriller with Sevilla in La Liga last weekend, emerging victorious courtesy of an 85th-minute winner from Abde Ezzalzouli, who also struck the only goal of the contest against Athletic last time out.

Jagoba Arrasate’s side are currently eighth in the table, just one point behind sixth-placed Rayo, boasting a record of nine wins, six draws and eight defeats from their 23 league matches in 2022-23.

Osasuna are bidding to do a league double over Celta this season, meanwhile, having recorded a 2-1 victory when the two teams locked horns in the reverse fixture towards the start of November.

Iago Aspas celebrates scoring for Celta Vigo on August 20, 2022

Celta will also enter this match off the back of a positive result, having recorded a 3-0 victory over Real Valladolid in the league last weekend.

Haris Seferovic opened the scoring against Real Valladolid before Gabri Veiga struck twice, and the result moved the Sky Blues into 13th position in the table.

Celta are only four points clear of the relegation zone, so a lot could change in the coming weeks, but the team’s recent form has been impressive.

Indeed, Carlos Carvalhal’s side have been victorious in three of their last five league games, suffering just one defeat in the process, which has allowed them to move towards the top half of the division.

Celta’s away form this season has been mixed, picking up 11 points from 11 matches, but Osasuna have actually lost five home games already this term, and the visitors will certainly believe that they have enough quality to cause plenty of problems in Monday night’s affair.

Team News

Celta Vigo midfielder Gabri Veiga on February 12, 2023

Osasuna will be without the services of Ruben Pena on Monday due to a leg injury, but the home side are otherwise in excellent shape ahead of the contest.

Head coach Arrasate would have been delighted with the performance of his team against Athletic, so it would not be a surprise to see the same starting XI take to the field for this match.

It is likely to be the same formation, meanwhile, with a 4-3-3 seeing Ezequiel Avila operating in a wide position to allow Ante Budimir to retain his position as the centre-forward.

As for Celta, Oscar Mingueza is out until later this month with a muscular problem, while Agustin Marchesin is a long-term absentee with a serious knee injury.

The visitors will also be missing Renato Tapia through suspension, but there are no fresh concerns from the three-goal success over Real Valladolid last time out.

Seferovic should continue alongside Iago Aspas in the final third of the field, while there will be another start for Veiga, who is believed to be attracting attention from the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Real Madrid due to his performances this season.

Osasuna possible starting lineup:
Herrera; Moncayola, Aridane, D Garcia, Cruz; Torro, M Gomez, Oroz; Avila, Budimir, Ezzalzouli

Celta Vigo possible starting lineup:
Villar; Mallo, Aidoo, U Nunez, Galan; Perez, Veiga, Beltran, De la Torre; Seferovic, Aspas

Preview: Borussia Dortmund vs. RB Leipzig

Borussia Dortmund will be aiming to secure their 10th successive victory in all competitions and move to the top of the Bundesliga table when they host RB Leipzig on Friday evening.

Leipzig, meanwhile, could move one point behind their opponents and Bayern Munich at the summit should they be able to win at Signal Iduna Park.

Match preview

Borussia Dortmund coach Edin Terzic reacts on February 25, 2023

Dortmund continued their perfect form since returning from the World Cup with a 1-0 win away to struggling Hoffenheim last weekend, with Julian Brandt’s 43rd-minute strike enough to keep them level on points with Bayern at the top of the table.

BVB dominated the meeting at Rhein-Neckar Arena, forcing opposition goalkeeper Oliver Baumann into 10 saves across the course of the 90 minutes, although the hosts had moments themselves in an entertaining encounter.

Edin Terzic’s side are heading into their most important week of the season so far, with Friday’s home match against Leipzig providing an opportunity to potentially knock one title contender out of the mix, as victory would move them seven points clear of their former manager Marco Rose’s side.

Meanwhile, Dortmund travel to London to face Chelsea in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday, as they attempt to hold onto their 1-0 lead and book their place in the last eight of Europe’s elite competition.

Having won each of their last nine matches, Terzic and his players could hardly head into two incredibly important matches with more confidence of navigating their way through them with positive results, as they look to prove this season will not be another false dawn for the Yellow Wall.

RB Leipzig coach Marco Rose applauds fans after the match on February 22, 2023

Leipzig, meanwhile, have displayed great spirit to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat at home to Union Berlin last month, winning two tricky fixtures against Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt to keep themselves in the Bundesliga’s title frame.

Goals from Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg provided Die Roten Bullen with a healthy 2-0 lead at half time against Frankfurt, who rallied after the break to pull one back through Djibril Sow’s effort moments after the hour mark.

Victory moved Leipzig back into the Champions League qualification places, having come from behind to secure a respectable 1-1 draw against Manchester City in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

While progressing against the English champions at the Etihad Stadium later this month will undoubtedly be a difficult task, it would be foolish to write them off given that the aforementioned defeat to Union Berlin remains Leipzig’s only loss in their last 22 matches.

Likewise, there is every chance that they can put Dortmund’s recent winning streak to an end on Friday evening, especially with Rose set to be more determined than ever to secure a positive result against his most recent club.

Team News

Borussia Dortmund's Karim Adeyemi celebrates scoring against Chelsea on February 15, 2023

Dortmund will remain without Karem Adeyemi, who injured his thigh after scoring for the third successive league game during a recent victory against Hertha Berlin.

Likewise, Julien Duranville, Youssoufa Moukoko, Abdoulaye Kamara and Mateu Morey are all expected to remain sidelined until later this month.

Julian Ryerson missed out against Hoffenheim last weekend due to an eye issue, but the right-back could return to his side’s starting XI on Friday, having impressed since joining from Union Berlin in the January transfer window.

Terzic’s main selection dilemma may prove to be whether to start with two or three conventional central midfielders, with the 40-year-old likely to err on the side of caution and bring Salih Ozcan into the team at the expense of Jamie Bynoe-Gittens.

Leipzig, meanwhile, will travel without Abdou Diallo, Peter Gulasci and Dani Olmo due to existing injuries, while Konrad Laimer is suspended after receiving his fifth caution of the season against Frankfurt last time out.

Xaver Schlager will likely join former Dortmund man Kevin Kampl at the base of the visitors’ midfield, with Christopher Nkunku set to be unleashed from the start after being eased into action from the bench in recent weeks following his recovery from a knee issue.

With Werner and Dominik Szoboszlai near certainties to start on both flanks, Rose may be picking between Amadou Haidara, Andre Silva and Forsberg for the other role in his side. Forsberg may win that particular battle due to his experience and ability to link play.

Borussia Dortmund possible starting lineup:
Kobel; Ryerson, Sule, Schlotterbeck, Guerreiro; Ozcan, Can, Bellingham; Brandt, Haller, Reus

RB Leipzig possible starting lineup:
Blaswich; Henrichs, Orban, Gvardiol, Halstenberg; Kampl, Schlager; Szoboszlai, Forsberg, Werner; Nkunku