Champions League Preview: Can Barcelona Pull Off Another Miracle?
Barcelona vs Juventus: MSN try to work their magic for yet another comeback at home
Last 5 games
Barca: W L L W W
Juve: W W W L D
Barcelona find themselves in a deja vu situation again. The Catalans are trailing by three goals after being outclassed in Turin last week, and will need another big comeback to stay alive in Europe. Although they’re trailing a goal less than they did against PSG, they’re also facing a much tougher side to break down compared to the French outfit.
Luis Enrique is going through a rollercoaster of a season in his final year as the manager. There have been some games where his team was absolute class on the pitch, yet there were also times when they were completely outplayed and outsmarted. Defense and midfield have been a disaster for a club as big as Barcelona and the new signings during the summer didn’t help either.
Juventus, on the other hand, are making strides on Massimiliano Allegri’s third season in charge. They gave Barcelona a beating in the first leg and also lead Serie A comfortably with eight points above Roma. The Italians are arguably the best side left in this competition besides Real Madrid and their incredible defense makes them such a hard team to play against.
If Barcelona were to pull another miracle, they’d need all the key figures of take part in the game. Thankfully, Javier Mascherano, Arda Turan, and Jeremy Mathieu [all returned to the training ahead of the game] [http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/arda-turan-javier-mascherano-return-barcelona-t... and will be available to start. This is a big boost for the club not only for this game, but also for El Clasico as well which will be played on Sunday.
Sergio Busquets will also return after missing the first leg through suspension, meaning the only players unavailable to dress for the hosts would be Aleix Vidal and Rafinha.
Meanwhile Juve were given a scare on Saturday when Paulo Dybala went off injured. However, the player himself [assured that he will be fit to play in Camp Nou] [http://www.football-italia.net/101263/dybala-%E2%80%98ready-barcelona%E2..., leaving only Marko Pjaca in the injured list for the away side.
Although the offensive trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar remain brilliant and even unplayable at times, it’s the defense and midfield that have let the club down over and over again this season.
Andres Iniesta and Mascherano are getting up there in age, while Ivan Rakitic and Gerard Pique haven’t been in the same form from previous seasons. They will be dealing with arguably the best defensive side in the world, who also have speedy players good enough to kill the tie off from counterattacks.
Barcelona may get a goal or two from the pure magic of their forwards, but they will surely concede some as well. Juve should go through comfortably to the semis.
Projected Line-ups: Barcelona (3-4-3) Ter Stegen; Mascherano, Pique, Umtiti; Roberto, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Neymar, Suarez.
Juventus (4-2-3-1) Buffon; Alves, Bonucci, Chiellini, Sandro; Pjanic, Khedira; Cuadrado, Dybala, Mandzukic; Higuain.
Prediction: Barca 2-1 Juve
AS Monaco vs Borussia Dortmund: Can Dortmund turn their anger into motivation?
Last 5 games
Monaco: W W W W L
Dortmund: W L L W D
The decision to play the first leg just a day after explosions near the Dortmund bus was labelled as “lousy” by the manager Thomas Tuchel, while the defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos said he feels treated like an animal by UEFA. After falling at home because of some individual errors — which likely was a lack of focus due to a terrible situation they were in— it will be interesting to see how Dortmund response in the second leg.
The Germans have been struggling domestically this season. They have only won 15 out of 29 Bundesliga games and find themselves in the fourth place. With the title unreachable at this point and having a 10-point lead towards the fifth place Hertha Berlin, Dortmund can finally put all their attention in Europe.
Meanwhile Monaco are on the verge of winning the Ligue One title for the first time in 17 years. Les Monégasques currently top the table on goal difference over PSG, although the Paris outfit have played an extra game. Fighting on two fronts can be a too big of a challenge for the inexperienced Monaco players, but one thing they have is the energy required to do so.
The French side would be given a big boost with Tiemoue Bakayoko returning from his suspension, along with Benjamin Mendy. However, Fabinho will sit out due to the yellow he picked up in Dortmund, while Djibril Sidibé, Gabriel Boschilia, and Guido Carrillo still haven’t recovered from their respective injuries.
For the visitors, Marc Bartra will be a big miss with the Spaniard still dealing with a wrist injury he suffered from the explosion. Mario Götze, André Schürrle, and Sebastian Rode also remain out on the sidelines. The good news for the club is Marco Reus and Gonzalo Castro returned to the action on Saturday. The former scored just two minutes into the game, while the latter played a small part towards the end.
This will be another goal fest like the first leg, especially with Dortmund desperately needing to go all out and score. Both teams are privileged with such attacking talents, but lack an organized defense. The Germans do look stronger on paper but the three away goals they gave up could come to haunt them at the end. It will be a fun one to watch and Monaco should have enough quality to make it through the next round.
Projected Line-ups: Monaco (4-4-2) Subasic; Touré, Glik, Jemerson, Mendy; Silva, Moutinho, Bakayoko, Lemar; Falcao, Mbappé.
Dortmund (4-4-2) Bürki; Schmelzer, Sokratis, Ginter, Piszczek; Pulisic, Kagawa, Weigl, Reus; Dembélé, Aubameyang.
Prediction: Monaco 2-2 Dortmund