February 23, 2015 7:06:11 pm
The Champions league is back in town and Eurpope is abuzz once again. After a rather dull start to the knockout stage, this week promises to provide a whole new level of top quality European football. Tuesday night will see a rematch of last year’s round of 16 game between Barcelona and Machester City and a promising matchup between German strugglers Borussia Dortmund and Italian Champions Juventus.
Manchester City vs Barcelona: Revenge is a dish best served at the Etihad
In what might be the match of the round of 16, a Manchester City outfit eager to prove their mettle will play host to a Barcelona side which put a sword to them in the competition last term. The two teams have faced each other twice in the last 12 months and both will be eager to send a message to the rest of the opponents.
Manchester City go into the game following an emphatic 5-0 win over a hapless Newcastle United team while Barcelona warmed up in disappointing fashion with a 0-1 loss to Malaga at the Camp Nou. Even more concerning for the Spanish giants was the fact that their star studded attack of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez couldn’t break down a Malaga defence after commiting 90 minutes from each of the players with a mid-week Champions League tie of this magnitude coming up. Not only did the Catalan outfit not secure any points, they also risked the fitness of their star trio against Malaga with a place in the Champions League quarter finals on the line. They have no real injury concerns but must keep a check on their fitness levles as they played with most of the first team against Malaga on Sunday.
On the other hand, Manchester City will be hoping that James Milner can fend off his knee niggles before this game. Expect a fast paced game from City, who will be looking to hit Barcelona on the counter with both barrels with the likes of Jesus Navas and Sergio Aguero available as fast paced outlets against a notoriously slow center half pairing for Barcelona.
Barca, with their tila-taka brand of football, will look to dominate City’s midfield. The team will look to Ivan Rakitic to dictate play alongside Andreas Iniesta and Sergio Busquets in midfield. The Croatian international has been a revelation since moving to the Spanish club this summer and has proven to be an able long term solution to an ageing Xavi.
It should be an interesting match. Lionel Messi and company will look to invade the Eastlands while City fight to defend their pride and their home.
Juventus vs Borussia Dortmund: A clash of contrasting fortunes
Serie A champions Juventus take on a demoralised Borussia Dortmund at the Juventus Arena on Tuesday night. The teams in theory are fighting for the same prize but when one examines their record this season up till now, it becomes quite clear that these two teams barely belong on the same field.
Borussia have had a horrid season so far and at one point were sitting in a rather uncomfortable position at the foot of the standings. Howerver, with the management backing the manager, Jurgen Klopp, the team has somehow managed to dig itself out of this ditch and now sits at the 12th spot in the points table. The 2013 finalists have at least managed to string together a three game domestic win streak coming into this week’s matchup with a rampant Juventus outfit.
It has been a much smoother course for the Serie A champions however, who have opened up a nine point gap at the top of the league table. Former AC Milan manager and current Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri hasn’t had to face much challenge up untill this point but with the Champions League in full siwng now, he too should be expecting some resistance from Dortmund trying their hardest to save what is an otherwise disastrous season.
Juventus will rely on The Maestro, Andrea Pirlo to put in another inspirational performance as the 35-year-old continues to rack up the accolades having once again won the Serie A player-of-the-year award last year. The Italian legend scored a scorcher of a goal in a 2-1 win against Atlanta over the weekend and will be looking to be the main man for his team once again as Borussia come calling.
The Germans have their own talisman though. They will need something special from Marco Reus if they are to break down a resolute Juventus defence on Tuesday at the Juventus Arena in Turin.
It is a matter of pride for both teams and both will look to pull off a inspirational performance as the big day approaches.
– Rishab Darbari
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