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Champions League Wednesday preview: English clubs close in on last 16
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Matthew Hill
Manchester City are one of several sides close to qualifying for the knockout phase of the Champions League
Manchester City are one of several sides close to qualifying for the knockout phase of the Champions League

Liverpool and Manchester City have the knockout phase firmly in their sights on another busy evening of Champions League action.

Both English sides are at home and will fancy their chances of victory over Atletico Madrid and Club Brugge respectively. 

Read on as we preview all eight of tonight's clashes. 

Group A

RB Leipzig vs Paris Saint-Germain (8pm, BT Sport ESPN)

RB Leipzig need a result to keep their fading qualification hopes alive when Paris Saint-Germain visit the Red Bull Arena.

The German side have yet to pick up a single point and have lost three of their four meetings with Les Parisiens in this competition — though they did triumph 2-1 when last visited by the French giants at the same stage 12 months ago.

Scoring has not been the issue for Jesse Marsch’s men with six strikes in three games but the 11 they have shipped is the second-highest tally in the competition, ranking behind only Swedish minnows Malmo going into tonight’s clashes.

PSG’s loss in Leipzig last term was their only defeat in nine consecutive Champions League away trips and Mauricio Pochettino’s side know a victory will all but assure their progression to the knockout stage.

But they will have to do without Lionel Messi, who scored twice in the reverse clash. 

The Argentine is suffering with pain in his hamstring and knee but Kylian Mbappe is fit to feature after an ear infection.

Manchester City vs Club Brugge (8pm, BT Sport 3)

Pep Guardiola will hope for more of the same from Manchester City as they meet Club Brugge again just a fortnight after crushing the Belgians 5-1 on their own turf.

It was a masterful performance from the Citizens on that occasion and a similar outcome looks a strong possibility this evening, with Guardiola having won 20 of his 25 home games in the competition during his stint in Manchester.

Phil Foden will hope to cause more problems for Brugge having set up the opener in the reverse fixture — the Englishman already has six Champions League assists to his name at the tender age of 21.

For Brugge, a defeat will all but condemn them to a battle for a Europa League spot and they have a rotten record on English soil, having not won in 13 attempts in all competitions.

Eder Balanta misses out for the visitors due to suspension while Guardiola may well rotate after City’s disappointing home defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend.

Group B

AC Milan vs Porto (5.45pm, BT Sport ESPN)

AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie returns from suspension in a must-win game for the Italians tonight
AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie returns from suspension in a must-win game for the Italians tonight

If AC Milan are to salvage anything from their Champions League campaign, they will need to start with victory against Porto at the San Siro tonight.

The Italians have made a near-flawless start to their Serie A campaign but have been condemned to three straight defeats in Europe and stare elimination squarely in the face.

In total, the Rossoneri have lost five consecutive outings, their longest such run in the competition.

The visitors have lost only one of their last five Champions League games away from home and have kept clean sheets in four of those contests, limiting Milan to just four shots in the Estadio do Dragao a fortnight ago.

Franck Kessie, recently linked with Tottenham, returns from suspension for the hosts while Marko Grujic should replace the injured Mateus Uribe in Porto's midfield. 

Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid (8pm, BT Sport 2)

Luis Suarez returns to Anfield as Liverpool look to join Bayern Munich and Juventus in qualifying for the last 16.

Victory will see the Reds through with two games to spare and Jurgen Klopp will be in confident mood after his troops outgunned the LaLiga champions 3-2 in the Spanish capital a fortnight ago.

But the Merseysiders’ home record against Spanish clubs leaves a lot to be desired with only two victories from 13 clashes — though one of those was their famous 4-0 victory over Barcelona in the 2018-19 semi-final.

Atleti are looking to win a third consecutive away game in the Champions League for the first time in five years and have happy memories of Anfield after knocking out the Reds in the last 16 in March 2020.

Naby Keita limped off against Brighton last weekend and will miss out for the hosts.

Although Diego Simeone has no fresh injury concerns, Antoine Griezmann is suspended for the visitors following his red card in the return fixture.

Group C

Borussia Dortmund vs Ajax (8pm, BT Sport Extra 2)

Sebastian Haller already has six goals and three assists in this season's Champions League for Ajax
Sebastian Haller already has six goals and three assists in this season's Champions League for Ajax

The top two in Group C do battle once again as Borussia Dortmund look to exact revenge on Ajax for a humiliating defeat in Amsterdam.

What was expected to be a tight contest turned out to be an extremely one-sided affair, with Dortmund going down 4-0 in the biggest loss by a German side against Dutch opponents since 1976.

Returning to home turf should help Marco Rose’s men given they are 10 Champions League games unbeaten on their own patch — a run comprising of seven clean sheets and stretching back to November 2017.

But confidence will be high in the visiting camp with Erik ten Hag’s men similarly effective on the road, only losing one of their last 10 away clashes in the competition.

The hosts are still without the mercurial Erling Haaland through injury, while visiting forward Sebastien Haller will look to add to his remarkable tally of six goals and three assists in just three Champions League appearances.

Sporting vs Besiktas (8pm, BT Sport Extra 4)

Sporting will condemn Besiktas to bottom spot and keep their own hopes of qualification alive with victory in Lisbon.

An emphatic 4-1 victory in Turkey two weeks ago was the first time the Leoes had netted four times in a Champions League clash in seven years.

Besiktas have never recorded a victory in three meetings with Sporting and have only won one of 11 clashes with Portuguese sides in European competition.

The Turks are on a five-game losing streak on the road in continental football and have shipped 16 goals during that run, finding the net themselves on only four occasions.

While Sporting have no fresh injury concerns, Chelsea loanee Michy Batshuayi is a severe doubt for the visitors having limped off in domestic action at the weekend.

Group D

Real Madrid vs Shakhtar Donetsk (5.45pm, BT Sport 1)

Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema is in fantastic form in the Champions League
Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema is in fantastic form in the Champions League

Real Madrid’s Champions League campaign is firmly back on track — and they can edge closer to qualification by putting hapless Shakhtar Donetsk to the sword once again.

Los Blancos were humiliated by minnows Sheriff Tiraspol on Matchday 2 but returned to their brilliant best in Ukraine a fortnight ago, brushing aside their opponents 5-0 with a ruthless display.

Having netted 15 goals in five meetings with tonight’s visitors, it is tough to see any outcome but a home win — though three losses in their last eight European games at the Bernabeu should help Real avoid complacency.

Frequently competitive on a European stage in recent years, Shakhtar have looked out of their depth so far this term and are one of three sides — along with Malmo and Dynamo Kyiv — still searching for their first goal. 

They will need to be much improved to keep Karim Benzema quiet, with the Madrid forward having netted 10 goals in his last 10 home Champions League appearances.

Sheriff Tiraspol vs Inter Milan (8pm, BT Sport Extra 3)

The feel-good story of this season’s Champions League group stage, Sheriff Tiraspol will give themselves a huge chance of qualification should they avoid defeat against Serie A champions Inter Milan.

The Moldovan minnows headed to the San Siro last time out having already stunned Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Madrid and were extremely competitive despite a 3-1 defeat to the Italians.

They must now look to carve out a result on their own patch and will take heart from a five-game unbeaten run at home in European competition.

Inter’s slow start in Group D has left them with work to do but a victory would ensure Simone Inzaghi’s men have their fate back in their own hands ahead of the final two matchdays.

The visitors are unlikely to make many changes as they look for consecutive victories in this competition for the first time since October 2018.



Champions LeagueRB LeipzigParis Saint-GermainManchester CityClub BrugesLiverpoolAtletico MadridAC MilanFC PortoBorussia DortmundAjaxSporting CPBesiktasReal MadridShakhtar DonetskFC SheriffInter
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