Champions League: Fixtures, Four Things to Watch Out for This Week

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Chelsea, Bayern and Atlético de Madrid have first-leg deficits to overturn while Liverpool are bidding to avoid a major slip-up in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final deciders.

Chelsea and Benfica have a significant amount of work to do to retrieve 3-1 deficits at Real Madrid and Liverpool respectively, but Bayern and Atlético will at least have home advantage on their side as they look to overturn 1-0 defeats in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final deciders.

Thomas Tuchel will be eager to put the first leg behind him, Chelsea having put in what he called “one of the worst first halves that I’ve seen from us here at Stamford Bridge”. The Blues are not a high-scoring side away in Europe but this is no time to despair: after all, Chelsea eliminated Real Madrid in the semi-finals last season.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti managed to maintain his poise after Real Madrid’s victory at Stamford Bridge. Although Karim Benzema’s hat-trick means the 13-time European champions are firmly in control of the tie, the Madrid coach merely said: “It was a good night, but it is only half-time and we have to look ahead.”

Bayern hoping to find their bite

“We have to be honest and say that we’ve done well to come away with just 1-0,” said Bayern midfielder Joshua Kimmich after the first leg. Der Spiegel wrote that “the feared Bayern attack stunned Villarreal with its harmlessness”. Indeed, the first leg was the first time in 32 Champions League games that Bayern failed to find the net. Julian Nagelsmann’s side have 90 minutes to put things right, with Robert Lewandowski and friends unlikely to give Unai Emery’s side such an easy night in Munich.

Unfancied Villarreal feel they can still go up a gear too, however. Scorer Arnaut Danjuma beamed afterwards: “If you win 1-0 against Bayern and can still improve, that’s a positive.”

City protecting one-goal lead at Atleti
Foden sets up City winner with first touch
Phil Foden came on as a substitute to supply the ball that Kevin De Bruyne dispatched to give Manchester City a first-leg lead, the strength of Pep Guardiola’s bench coming to the rescue against a typically rugged Atlético. “A 1-0 here isn’t such a bad scoreline,” said Atleti’s ex-City defender, Stefan Savić. “When we get them to Madrid, it’ll be very different.”

Defiant words, but Diego Simeone’s side have not always had their best results at the Estadio Metropolitano of late; they have not won in their last six Champions League home games (D4 L2) and Guardiola insisted he would not be going to Madrid to defend, warning: “We will go there to score and try and win again.”

Liverpool out to end Benfica’s journey
Benfica showed what they were made of in the second half of the first leg against Liverpool, only to be shattered by Luis Díaz’s late third for the Reds. Portuguese sports paper A Bola concluded that they were a team with “lots of soul but not much glory”.

Denying Liverpool a place in the semi-finals looks like a tall order for Nélson Veríssimo and his men, but with Darwin Núñez on song, the Eagles always have half a chance. They can also take inspiration from the class of 2005/06, who managed to build on a 1-0 lead from their first knockout round tie against the Reds with a memorable 2-0 win at Anfield.

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