Champions League last 16: Suarez vs Chelsea, Bayern boost?

Champions League last 16: Suarez vs Chelsea, Bayern boost?

The Champions League last-16 action continues this week – get the lowdown as Chelsea, Man City and Bayern gear up for their first legs.

Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea

  • First leg: February 23, National Arena, Bucharest (8pm)
  • Second leg: March 17, Stamford Bridge (8pm)

The team news:

Atletico will be without Kieran Trippier (suspended) and Hector Herrera (illness), while Yannick Carrasco is sidelined with a foot injury and defender Jose Gimenez suffered a muscle problem at the weekend.

Chelsea will be without experienced defender Thiago Silva with the Brazilian recovering from a knock. But midfielder Kai Havertz and forward Christian Pulisic are in contention. Callum Hudson-Odoi was hauled off against Southampton despite coming on as a substitute but the winger will travel to Bucharest.

Callum Hudson-Odoi


Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel criticises Callum Hudson-Odoi’s performance in their 1-1 draw at Southampton after he was substituted in the 76th minute despite only coming on at half-time

The form:

La Liga leaders Atletico have stumbled in recent weeks, allowing Real Madrid to close the gap to three points, although they have played a game more. Diego Simeone’s side have taken only five points from four games in February and were beaten for the first time in 12 outings at the weekend when they lost 2-0 at home to Levante.

Chelsea are still unbeaten under Thomas Tuchel but their momentum was checked in a draw at Southampton last time out.

View from the camps:

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel: “It’s a big test. They’re an experienced club at this level, (have) an experienced coach. Hopefully it brings out the best in us. It’s clear what you get when you play Atletico – fighting, experience, a team with a good mentality… it’s a disadvantage for Atletico to lose their home ground.”

What to look out for:

There will be no Diego Costa – the former Chelsea forward is still seeking a new club after leaving Atletico in January – but Luis Suarez is another familiar face with previous when it comes to the Blues. The ex-Liverpool player, who infamously bit Branislav Ivanovic during a 2013 clash with Chelsea in which he also scored a late equaliser, has been the impetus behind Atletico’s title tilt.

Chelsea were the last team to beat Atletico on their own turf in European competition – back in September 2017 – but to repeat the trick, they will need to keep Suarez quiet. “The best way to defend him is to keep him far away from the goal, and that’s a collective job,” said Cesar Azpilicueta.

Lazio vs Bayern Munich

Robert Lewandowski reacts after defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt

Robert Lewandowski reacts after defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt – but the Polish striker has plenty of Champions League form
  • First leg: February 23, Olimpico (8pm)
  • Second leg: March 17, Allianz Arena (8pm)

The team news:

Lazio are likely to be without Stefan Radu (groin), Luis Felipe (ankle) and Thomas Strakosha (knee).

Bayern boss Hansi Flick is missing several key players to injury or coronavirus, including Corentin Tolisso and Thomas Mueller. Niklas Sule is recovering from a knock and will be monitored.

The form:

Lazio moved into Serie A’s top four on Saturday with a 1-0 win against Sampdoria.

Bayern have won six titles in the past nine months but have stumbled in their last two league matches with a 3-3 draw against visiting Arminia Bielefeld and a 2-1 defeat on Saturday by Eintracht Frankfurt.


Bayern Munich won the Club World Cup

View from the camps:

Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi: “It’s the culmination of five years working with a fantastic group. We will play the best match we can, and try to enjoy ourselves. More than focusing on their weaknesses, I am focusing on my team. On our journey we have played many finals, we know how to face a game like this.”

Bayern boss Hansi Flick: “These are special matches for us and I’m expecting the team to be especially motivated. We have an idea of how we want to play. We want to start showing that from the start of games. I have complete confidence that the team will do that on Tuesday.”

What to look out for:

Bayern have had a domestic wobble but will be out to get back on track in the competition they have dominated recently. The holders have gone almost two years without defeat in the Champions League, have failed to score only once in their last 27 matches and have won 16 of their last 17 games in the competition with an overall goal difference of +48.

That looks ominous for Lazio, but both sides have forwards in deadly form. Robert Lewandowski has scored 31 goals in 33 Champions League games since the start of the 2017/18 season – more than any other player – but Lazio’s Ciro Immobile has eight in his last nine Champions League starts and outscored Lewandowski across Europe’s top leagues last term.

Borussia Monchengladbach vs Manchester City

Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan


Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says people laughed when he suggested Ilkay Gundogan could be used as a striker, following his two goals in the 3-0 win over Tottenham
  • First leg: February 24, Puskas Arena, Budapest (8pm)
  • Second leg: March 16, Etihad Stadium (8pm)

The team news:

Borussia Monchengladbach look to have little to worry about in the injury department, with a fully fit squad ready to host the Premier League leaders.

Manchester City could hand Sergio Aguero a first start of 2021 after he was an unused substitute against Arsenal at the weekend, but remain without Nathan Ake.

The form:

Monchengladbach stormed into 2021, beating Bayern and Borussia Dortmund. But they have taken just two points from 12 in the Bundesliga, with coach Marco Rose admitting Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat against strugglers Mainz could be put down to an earlier announcement that he will take charge of rivals Dortmund next season.

There’s no stopping Manchester City right now, though; they’re on an 18-game winning run and last lost way back in November.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s win over Arsenal in the Premier League

What to look out for:

Get ready to hear quadruple and Manchester City in the same sentence again. Streaking clear at the top of the Premier League, in the EFL Cup final and FA Cup last eight, it’s time for the spotlight to turn back onto the trophy that has so far eluded City but Pep Guardiola’s side are purring with 18 wins in a row in all competitions.

Kevin De Bruyne started for the first time in a month against Arsenal and is likely to get the nod again.

Atalanta vs Real Madrid

Real Madrid forward Eden Hazard (AP image)

Eden Hazard is back in training after a muscle problem
  • First leg: February 24, Gewiss Stadium (8pm)
  • Second leg: March 16, Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium (8pm)

The team news:

Atalanta will be without defender Hans Hateboer through injury, but have an otherwise fit squad to choose from.

Real Madrid’s problems are far more severe; Karim Benzema will miss Wednesday’s game with injury, joining Sergio Gamos, Marcelo, Eder Militao, Dani Carvajal, Federico Valverde, Rodrygo and Eden Hazard on the sidelines.

The form:

Atalanta earned a third successive victory as they saw off Napoli 4-2 to climb to fourth in Serie A.

Real Madrid are also on a winning streak: four in a row has put the pressure on Atletico at the La Liga summit.

What to look out for:

Real Madrid are the most successful team in the competition with 13 wins and claimed three in a row between 2016 and 2018. However since that success over Liverpool three years ago, they have failed to make it past the round of 16 and, if reports in Spain are to be believed, this competition is crucial for Zinedine Zidane’s future.

Ajax and Man City have proved too strong at this stage during the past two campaigns and in Atalanta this time, Zidane will know they are facing an up and coming outfit. The Italians won at Anfield in November and were within touching distance of the quarter-finals last year.

Another man under scrutiny, Eden Hazard, could return after his latest injury setback. His boss will hope he can finally find fitness and form.

Last-16 results so far…

Porto 2-1 Juventus: Ronaldo quiet as hosts gain edge

Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo gestures during the Champions League round of 16, first leg, soccer match between FC Porto and Juventus at the Dragao stadium in Porto, Portugal, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Luis Vieira)

Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo failed to fire against Porto

Early goals at the start of each half from Mehdi Taremi and Moussa Marega saw Porto beat Juventus 2-1 in their Champions League last-16 first-leg tie on a night Cristiano Ronaldo was kept quiet.

Sevilla 2-3 Borussia Dortmund: Haaland stars again

17 February 2021, Spain, Sevilla: Football: Champions League, knockout round, round of 16, first leg Sevilla FC - Borussia Dortmund at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Dortmund's Erling Haaland (r) celebrates after scoring the goal to make it 1:2. Photo by: Daniel Gonzalez Acuna/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

Erling Haaland scored twice against Sevilla

Erling Haaland scored twice as Borussia Dortmund ended Sevilla’s nine-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League.

RB Leipzig 0-2 Liverpool: Salah, Mane put Reds in control

Mohamed Salah is congratulated after giving Liverpool the lead against RB Leipzig

Mohamed Salah is congratulated after giving Liverpool the lead against RB Leipzig

Liverpool broke a run of three straight defeats and put one foot in the last eight of the Champions League with a 2-0 victory over RB Leipzig.

Barcelona 1-4 PSG: Mbappe hits hat-trick in big win

PSG's Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring his side's second goal against Barcelona

PSG’s Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal against Barcelona

Kylian Mbappe’s hat-trick inspired Paris Saint-Germain to an emphatic 4-1 victory at Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Champions League key dates

Round of 16 first legs: February 16/17/23/24

Round of 16 second legs: March 9/10/16/17

Quarter-final and semi-final draws: March 19

Quarter-finals first legs: April 6/7

Quarter-finals second legs: April 13/14

Semi-finals first legs: April 27/28

Semi-finals second legs: May 4/5

Final: May 29 (Atatürk Olympic Stadium)

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