There are two more round fo 16 clashes in the Champions League on Wednesday evening as Jurgen Klopp takes his side to Portugal, while there is a clash of the titans in Madrid as Real welcome Paris Saint Germain to the Bernabeu.
After Tottenham came from behind to snatch a draw in Turin as Man City thumped Basel, Europe’s elite club competition came back with a bang this week.
On Wednesday, there are two more potentially captivating ties.
Porto vs Liverpool
Porto team news:
Porto have a major injury crisis ahead of the visit of Liverpool with top goalscorer Vincent Aboubakar unlikely to start. Andre Andre, Felipe, Ivan Marcano and Danillo Pereira are also doubts for the Portuguese champions.
Potential line-up: J. Sa, A. Telles, D. Reyes, M. Pereira, R. Pereira, Otavio, H. Herrera, S. Oliveira, J. Corona, Brahimi, M. Marega
Key player: Mali striker Moussa Marega will carry the main goal threat for Porto having found the net 16 times already this season. The 26-year-old has attracted attention from some top European teams, including Liverpool.
Liverpool team news:
Emre Can will miss the first leg through suspension while it appears unlikely that Joe Gomez will feature through injury. Other than long-term absentee Nathaniel Clyne and the injured Klavan, Jurgen Klopp has a strong team to choose from.
Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Milner, Salah, Firmino, Mane.
With 29 goals in all competitions this season, Egyptian superstar Mo Salah is undoubtedly Liverpool’s best player right now and has the quality to open up any defence.
Porto whip up quite the atmosphere in the Estádio do Dragão and will look to feed off the energy of the crowd to get off to a good start.
Much like Klopp’s attack-minded side, Porto play a high press and transfer from defence to attack with the use of their speedy wingers.
The Portuguese league leaders are stretched defensively with injuries to Felip and Ivan Marcano and Liverpool may well be able to find pockets of space in the final third for Salah and Firmino to operate.
Liverpool will be keenly aware that Porto are the top scorers in the Champions League from set-pieces, an area that Liverpool have occasionally struggled to defend.
This could well be one of the more open round of 16 matches as both teams will attack at will and are both liable to concede. Liverpool may well progress over the course of the tie, but the first leg in Portugal could be a difficult evening.
Verdict: Porto 2-2 Liverpool
Real Madrid vs Paris Saint Germain
Real Madrid team news:
Dani Carvajal will miss out through suspension and will likely be replaced by Nacho.
Zinedine Zidane has been boosted by the return of Cristiano Ronaldo who netted a hat-trick at the weekend and also had the luxury of resting Gareth Bale for most of their routine victory over Real Sociedad.
Potential Real Madrid line-up: Navas, Marcelo, Ramos, Varane, Nacho, Casemiro, Modric, Kroos, Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema
Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo – Who else
Paris Saint Germain team news:
Thiago Motta and Edison Cavani are unlikely to feature for Paris on the away trip as they struggle to regain fitness. Layvin Kurzawa and Hatem Ben Arfa are also on the injury list.
Areola, Meunier, Silva, Marquinhos, Alves, Diarra, Rabiot, Verratti, Neymar, Di Maria, Mbappe
Key player: Neymar
The stakes could not be higher in this one. Whichever team loses this fixture will almost certainly be seeking a new manager come summer time.
Zinedine Zidane has seen his Real Madrid team fall 17 points behind Barcelona in La Liga and currently sit fourth in the table behind Valencia and Atletico Madrid.
The Frenchman is a manager under pressure and failure to progress beyond the round of 16 would surely result in his exiting the Bernabeau.
Unai Emery too, is under pressure to finally bring PSG European glory, particularly since the club have splurged on Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
Winning a French title will not be sufficient to keep his job.
While Madrid have been underwhelming this season it would be unwise to underestimate the Spanish giants in a European knock-out match.
Madrid possess the ability to put their so-so form from this season firmly behind them and with Ronaldo, Bale and Modric have the quality to beat anyone.
PSG have a side that cost over £700m to assemble and the pressure on this group to succeed is intense. The memory of last season’s spectacular capitulation in the Nou Camp, when PSG squandered a 4-0 first leg lead and were hammered 6-1 by a rampant Barcelona, will be painfully fresh in their minds.
The visitors may well be able to use their Nou Camp experience as a positive and go into this first leg with a view to attacking at every opportunity rather than sitting back like they did against Barcelona.
Whatever the outcome this is a fixture to be savoured by all. The quality of player on display over the two legs is incredible.
Verdict: Real Madrid 1-3 PSG
Kevin Boyle, Pundit Arena