The UEFA Champions League Returns tonight, with Real Madrid’s trip to Manchester City set to make the headlines, while Juventus host Lyon in the other Last 16 second leg tie.
Following the postponement of the tournament due to the coronavirus outbreak, the second leg of the unfinished Round of 16 ties will take place, while the one-legged quarter-finals will take place between Wednesday and Saturday next week, with one-legged semi-finals and the final taking place the following weekend, all in neutral venues in Lisbon, Portugal. It will be a truly historical knockout tournament this season, that takes on more of a World Cup-style format than the regular one.
However, before the Lisbon-based games, the remaining Last 16 ties, carried over from February, still need to be settled. The showcase game will undoubtedly be the match between Spanish La Liga winners, Real Madrid and English Premier League runners-up, Manchester City. Madrid go into the game with far better form, having secured the league title by winning 10 of their 11 remaining post-lockdown fixtures and drawing just one after the title was secured. City, on the other hand, were helpless to watch Liverpool run away with the title in England, with Pep Guardiola’s side winning nine of their 12 post-lockdown games, but with three devastating losses against Chelsea, Southampton and Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final.
The 2-1 advantage City hold over Zidane’s men, however, makes them favourites to win, with not only two away goals to their name and the aggregate advantage, but also because Sergio Ramos will be suspended for the trip, following his red card at the Santiago Bernabeau. However, Zidane’s record as a coach counts in Madrid’s favour, having won every knockout tie in the Champions League throughout his managerial career (as well as in his time as Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant coach). Zidane and his team’s exceptional Champions League record means that they can never be written off.
The other game to be contested tonight is between Real Madrid legend, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus playing host to French club, Lyon, in Turin. Lyon hold a 1-0 advantage over Juventus, but also have only played a single competitive fixture since March, shortly after their win through a Lucas Tousart goal over the Italian champions. It will be another difficult tie to call, but could prove to be an incredible opportunity for Ronaldo to get to Lisbon, which will feel like home turf for him.
If both Juventus and Real Madrid progress, Ronaldo will be taking on his former team and former coach in a mouthwatering potential quarter-final.
The other Round of 16 games to be played on Saturday are Chelsea’s trip to Bayern Munich where Bayern hold a 3-0 advantage, and Barcelona’s home game against Napoli, with the tie evenly balanced after a 1-1 draw in Naples.
For more news in the coming weeks on this year’s Champions League, we will be keeping you up to date in our Sports section