Tuesday, February 23, 2021

European Preview: Manchester City and Chelsea Resume Champions League Play; Spurs and Red Devils Look to Finish Off Europa Foes; Foxes and Gunners Face Europa Challenges

Manchester City and Chelsea resume Champions League play this week.  Chelsea will be facing current La Liga leader Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.  Chelsea’s attack has yet to fully engage under manager Thomas Tuchel and the Blues will be facing an Atletico squad which has conceded only 16 goals in 23 La Liga matches. The Mattress Makers, however, have been a bit sloppy of late in drawing 2 and losing 1 in their last four matches, allowing Real Madrid to close within three points of the La Liga lead. The Blues are hoping to advance to the quarterfinal for the first time since 2013/14.  Atletico, meanwhile, have advanced to the final 8 in 5 of their last 7 seasons. Luis Suarez leads the manager Diego Simeone’s side with 16 goals in La Liga this season. Many are curious as to how Chelsea will line up. For example, will Hudson-Odoi possibly even start following his quick hook from the weekend’s premier league game. Will Christian Pulisic be healthy enough to make an appearance? Manchester City will look to extend its winning streak to 19 matches across all competitions when it faces Bundesliga club Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday. Pep Guardiola’s side will be looking to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League for a 4th consecutive year.  Their German opponents are playing in the knockout stage of the Champions League, formerly the European Cup, for the first time in 43 years.  Die Fohlen (The Colts) finished second in their group stage behind Real Madrid, eliminating Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter Milan. Domestically, Monchengladbach sit 8th in the Bundesliga table and have not won in their last 4 matches.  Due to COVID restrictions Chelsea will be playing in Bucharest, Romania while Manchester City’s match will be played in Budapest, Hungary.

Wednesday will see Tottenham host Wofsberger in the second leg of their Round of 32 Europa league tie with Spurs holding what should be an insurmountable 4-1 advantage from their first leg.  Manchester United is in a similar enviable position when they face Real Sociedad on Thursday following their 4-0 victory last week against the Spanish club.  Things are just a bit more tense for Leicester and Arsenal on Thursday.  The Foxes host Slavia Prava after Leicester was unable to secure an away goal in a scoreless opening leg match last week.  Arsenal host Benfica at the Emirates after the clubs played to a 1-1 opening leg draw. 

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