For the first time since the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League Round of 16, Arsenal have been drawn against AC Milan in European competition. But, with the encounter now taking place in the Europa League and the added coinkydink of both sides sitting sixth domestically (both are also eight points back of fourth place), there’ll be a lot of glorious nostalgia mixed with contemporary handwringing before the San Siro first leg on March 8.
Sitting fourth in La Liga and bounced in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals, Real Madrid heads into Wednesday’s Champions League Round of 16 first leg tie against Paris Saint-Germain a wounded animal.
No event defines an athlete’s career quite like the World Cup. It’s why people still look at Lionel Messi like he’s got something to prove (he doesn’t) and why the name Chris Wondolowski still brings a tear to the eye of many Americans. The 2014 World Cup made Mario Gotze an international icon, turned James Rodriguez into the hero of Colombians everywhere and earned DeAndre Yedlin a Spurs contract.
It’s not an easy thing to break into the Paris Saint-Germain midfield as an attack-minded 21-year-old. With a guaranteed front three of Edinson Cavani, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe balanced by the automatic midfield selections of Adrien Rabiot and Marco Verratti, there’s only one remaining spot outside of defense for the likes of Angel Di Maria, Julian Draxler, Javier Pastore, Thiago Motta and Giovani Lo Celso (the 21-year-old referenced above) to battle for.
On Saturday, match week 17 in La Liga will boil down to one match and one match only: the El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu. Though Barcelona dares not think about losing the world’s greatest rivalry game, manager Ernesto Valverde is obviously correct in saying, “I don’t think a Clasico victory will give us the title.”
Real Madrid welcomes Barcelona to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, December 23, for the 175th league edition of El Clasico. The stakes couldn’t be higher with Real desperate to make up ground in La Liga, while a victory for Barcelona at the home of its greatest rival would effectively doom Zinedine Zidane’s men in their quest to defend the title.