Dubai: Here are some Champions League talking points ahead of the remaining second-leg matches in the round of 16 on Tuesday and Wednesday:
REAL MADRID v ATALANTA (first leg: 1-0)
Karim Benzema is back in top form after an injury-enforced absence, giving Real Madrid extra strike power against Atalanta. Benzema scored three goals in his two matches since returning to the squad, including two that gave Madrid a 2-1 win over Elche in La Liga on Saturday. Madrid will also have captain Sergio Ramos available for Tuesday’s match following a long injury absence. Left-back Marcelo may also return after an injury layoff. Atalanta have won all their European matches away from home this season, including a 2-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield. Coach Gian Piero Gasperini has almost a full squad available, although defender Remo Freuler is suspended following his red card in the first leg. Atalanta have won three of their last four matches in Serie A since the first-leg loss to Madrid.
MANCHESTER CITY v BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH (2-0)
Manchester City are running away with the English Premier League title but Gladbach are in a tailspin after losing all six games since the February 15 announcement that coach Marco Rose is joining Borussia Dortmund next season. Just like the first leg, this game will be played in Budapest, Hungary, because of German restrictions on travel from Britain during the COVID-19 pandemic. City are 14 points clear in the Premier League and can focus on trying to win the Champions League for the first time.
BAYERN MUNICH v LAZIO (4-1)
The defending European champions are all but assured of a place in the quarter-finals after a dominant performance in the first leg in Rome. Robert Lewandowski scored Bayern’s first goal in that game and he’s been in strong form in the three Bundesliga games since then with six goals. The one downside for Bayern ahead of Wednesday’s game is a less-than-stellar defensive record, with at least one goal conceded in each of their last six games following the Club World Cup final last month. Lazio have conceded seven goals in the three matches they have played since the first leg. They lost two of those matches and only managed a narrow 3-2 win over bottom club Crotone in their last outing. Forward Ciro Immobile, the European Golden Shoe winner last year, has failed to find the back of the net in his past six appearances.
CHELSEA v ATLETICO MADRID (1-0)
This is a rarity — a Champions League home game being played in England by a Premier League team. German teams couldn’t travel to Manchester or Liverpool, but Atletico are able to go to London without having to quarantine on their return to Madrid. Thomas Tuchel heads into the game enjoying a 12-game unbeaten start as Chelsea manager but the team are still only just clinging on to fourth place in the Premier League. Atletico are top in Spain but have been struggling recently, with their once-comfortable league lead dwindling in recent weeks. Atletico have drawn two of their four matches since the first-leg loss to Chelsea in February, and coach Diego Simeone will have to concentrate on keeping the team’s spirits high entering the match in London.