Borussia Dortmund vs PSG
Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund
Tuesday, 18-02-2020 @11pm
Ref: Antonio Mateu (Spa)
Dortmund will be without captain Marco Reus and creative lynchpin Julian Brandt, as confirmed by Lucien Favre in the pre-match press conference. Brandt absence will pave the way for Emre Can to retain his role in central midfield alongside the ever-present figure of Axel Witsel. These two players will play a key role in dealing with PSG’s technically gifted midfielders in the second line of press. Reus’ absence, meanwhile, means Thorgan Hazard is a guaranteed starter in the team along with Jadon Sancho, in the wider attacking slots. These two will provide the much-needed service to lone striker Erling Haaland, who scored his eighth Bundesliga goal in the win over Eintracht Frankfurt. Elsewhere, Achraf Hakimi and Raphael Guerreiro are both guaranteed to be deployed as the wing-backs, with Favre likely to retain his 3-4-3 setup. Mats Hummels is expected to lead the Dortmund backline, with additional support from Manuel Akanji and Lukasz Piszczek, who is likely to get the nod ahead of the inexperienced Dan-Axel Zagadou. And finally, Roman Burki is set to retain his place in goal over Marwin Hitz.
PSG could be boosted by the return of Neymar this week. The Brazilian travelled with the team to Dortmund and we expect him to replace Julian Draxler at left-wing, with PSG likely to operate with a 4-4-2. Angel Di Maria might retain his place on the opposite flank, however. former Dortmund star Abdou Diallo has not been included in the squad along with Leandro Paredes. But, we could still expect drastic changes in defence, with the likes of Thomas Meunier, Juan Bernat and Marquinhos likely to return to the side. In midfield, Marco Verratti was among the substitutes against Amiens. But, the Italian is more than expected to operate in the double-pivot this time around, alongside Idrissa Gueye. The ex-Everton star is likely to get the nod ahead of Ander Herrera. And finally, the PSG attack will be led by the powerful offensive duo of Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi. This will be Mbappe’s first-game against Dortmund as a PSG player and it will be interesting to see how Tuchel utilises his quality this midweek.
The only previous encounter between Borussia Dortmund and PSG was in the 2010/11 Europa League group stages – both games ended in a draw (1-1 in Dortmund, 0-0 in Paris). Borussia Dortmund have always scored at least two goals in their six Champions League home games against French clubs. However, among the 16 teams qualified for this season’s knockout phase, no team scored fewer goals in the group stages (eight). Borussia Dortmund have made it past the Champions League round of 16 only once in the last five seasons. It was in 2016-17 under current PSG manager Tuchel, eventually knocked out by Monaco in the quarter-finals. Tuchel has won none of his five away games against Dortmund (D2 L3), all of these taking place when he was in charge of Mainz (2009-2014).
Dortmund have lost four of their last six Champions League home games in the knockout phase (W2), including the last two (2-3 v Monaco in 2016-17, 1-0 v Tottenham in 2018/19). Dortmund’s last 22 goals in the Champions League have all come from open play, the longest current run among the remaining sides in the competition. Two of the three youngest players to have scored 3+ goals and delivered 3+ assists in the Champions League since last season play for Borussia Dortmund: 19-year-old Jadon Sancho (three goals, three assists) and 21-year-old Achraf Hakimi (four goals, three assists). The other is Paris SG’s 21-year-old Kylian Mbappe (nine goals, eight assists).
PSG have reached the Champions League knockout stages for the eighth consecutive season – only Real Madrid (23), Barcelona (16) and Bayern Munich (12) are on a longer run. However, in that time, the French side have never gone past the quarter-finals and have been eliminated in the last 16 in each of the past three seasons. They conceded only two goals in six Champions League group games this season, fewer than any other team. None of PSG’s 26 games in the Champions League knockout stages have ended goalless – that’s more matches without a 0-0 than any other team in the latter phase of the competition. PSG forward Kylian Mbappe has scored/assisted 30 goals in 30 Champions League games (19 goals, 11 assists). He’s netted three goals against Borussia Dortmund, his joint-best record in the Champions League against a single opponent.
Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool
Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, Madrid
Tuesday, 18-02-2020 @11pm
Ref: Szymon Marcianiak (Pol)
Atletico continue to be plagued with injury problems in the attacking department as key players Diego Costa and Joao Felix are once again doubts for the game. Alvaro Morata returned to action against Valencia at the weekend, which will be a boost, but Kieran Trippier and Hector Herrera are still sidelined. There are unlikely to be a whole lot of changes made to the side that started the last league game. Jan Oblak is the undisputed choice in goal and will need to be at his best to keep a dangerous Liverpool side at bay. Jose Maria Gimenez is back to full fitness, but was benched against Valencia. He is in line to start on Tuesday along with Felipe at the heart of the Atleti defence. Santiago Arias is expected to start at right-back again, having returned to action last time out, while Renan Lodi is a certainty on the opposite side. Thomas Partey and Marcos Llorente both scored in the draw against Valencia at the weekend and are expected to hold the fort in the middle of the park against Liverpool again. Flanking the central midfielders should be Saul Niguez and captain Koke.The fit-again Morata ought to return to the starting lineup on Tuesday night. The former Chelsea star is likely to replace Vitolo, with Angel Correa being retained in the two-man strike-force.
Liverpool almost have a clean bill of health, with Xherdan Shaqiri and long-term absentee Nathaniel Clyne the only two players ruled out from the trip to Spain. There could be a couple of changes made by Jurgen Klopp to the side that started against Norwich this past weekend. Allison Becker has been brilliant for Liverpool and is a certainty to feature between the sticks, while the first-choice backline of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson is unlikely to be tinkered with by Klopp. There should be a change in the middle of the park, with Brazilian enforcer Fabinho slotting in at the base of the three-man midfield unit. His inclusion will allow Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson to move into a slightly advanced role and have more of an impact in the final third. Gini Wijnaldum is a shoo-on for the third midfield slot. The attacking unit also ought to see a solitary change, with Sadio Mane coming back into the starting XI after having made a successful return from injury against Norwich. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be the one to make way. Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino have played more Champions League games than anyone else since 2017-18, featuring in 31 of Liverpool’s 32 games. They will once again be starting on Tuesday at Atletico, completing the Reds’ attacking trifecta.
The head-to-head between Atletico Madrid and Liverpool in Europe is perfectly balanced with one win each and two draws (4 goals each). However, Atletico eliminated Liverpool in their only knockout tie in the 2009-10 Europa League semi-finals, a tournament they went on to win. Atletico and Liverpool’s only previous Champions League encounters came in the 2008-09 group stages – both games ended 1-1. Liverpool are winless in their last five away games against Spanish opposition in Europe, losing four (D1). Their last victory dates back to the Champions League last 16 in 2008-09, against Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu (1-0).
Since 2013-14, Atletico Madrid have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League six times in seven seasons; they had qualified for the knockout stages only twice previously. Atletico Madrid have never lost at home under Diego Simeone in the Champions League knockout stages (W8 D4). In those 12 games, they’ve only conceded two goals.
Liverpool have never won three consecutive away Champions League games, having beaten Genk and FC Red Bull Salzburg, they last did so in the European Cup back in September 1984 under manager Joe Fagan (five in a row). Sadio Mane has scored 10 goals in 14 Champions League knockout games since 2017-18, only Cristiano Ronaldo has been more prolific over that period (11 goals). Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino have played more Champions League games than anyone else since 2017-18, featuring in 31 of Liverpool’s 32 games. The only exception was the Reds’ 4-0 home win against Barcelona in last season’s semi-finals.