UEFA Champions League returns after five months with unfinished last-16 business

August 8, 2020

FootballUEFA Champions League

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/uefa-champions-league-return-last-16-ties-preview-6544658/

Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, UEFA Champions was halted in mid-March with four last-16 ties left incomplete. Now, with the domestic leagues concluded, the competition is back with a revamped format that will have Lisbon host the single-legged quarter-finals, semi-finals, and the final.

Back in March, Atletico Madrid edged past holders Liverpool, RB Leipzig knocked out Tottenham Hotspur, Atalanta eliminated Valencia, and Paris Saint-Germain fought back to see off Borussia Dortmund.

After overturning the two-season UEFA ban, Manchester City can now focus on trying to protect a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid to reach the quarterfinals. In the first leg, two late away goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus had cancelled Isco’s opener and shocked Santiago Bernabeu.

Pep Guardiola’s side completed the Premier League strongly — although finishing second behind Liverpool — scoring 25 goals and not conceding in its last seven matches. Real, on the other hand, will resume their European campaign as Spanish champions after a 10-match winning streak following the season restart.

Although Zinedine Zidane has never been knocked out of the Champions League as a manager, he will have a real test at the Etihad Stadium on Friday with his captain Sergio Ramos suspended for the match.

JUVENTUS (0) vs LYON (1)
Despite securing a ninth successive Serie A title, Juventus’ form after the restart has been patchy — four losses and two draws in 12 matches and a Coppa Italia final defeat on penalties to Napoli. But with the domestic headache solved, Maurizio Sarri’s team will hope to overturn the 1-0 first leg deficit against Lyon.

On the other hand, Lyon lost two cup finals to Paris Saint-Germain after the restart with the domestic season cancelled due to the pandemic. Winning the Champions League is Rudi Garcia’s side’s only chance of qualifying for Europe next season following a seventh-placed Ligue 1 finish.

Lyon has been boosted by Memphis Depay’s return from a long-term knee injury as it seeks to hold on to their slender advantage over the Old Lady which was given by midfielder Lucas Tousart in the first leg.

The quarterfinal line-up will be completed on Saturday after the completion of the last two Round of 16 ties. While Bayern Munich holds a 3-0 lead over Chelsea, Barcelona will host Napoli at Camp Nou with the away-goal advantage secured from a 1-1 draw.

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