Tuesday, March 7, 2023

European Cups

London is the site of two Champions League matches this week as both Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur try to overcome one goal deficits in the second legs of their Champions League Round of Sixteen ties. Chelsea is down a goal to Borussia Dortmund as the German side visits Stamford Bridge Tuesday. The task is a bit daunting as Chelsea has not scored more than a goal in any match in any competition this year. One positive for the Blues is that Dortmund’s first leg goal scorer, speedster Karim Adeyemi, will miss the London rematch with injury. That’s good news for Enzo Fernandez, Chelsea’s high priced new midfielder who was exposed by Adeyemi’s pace in the match in Germany.

AC Milan visits Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, also holding a one goal advantage versus their Premier League opponent. The second leg could turn on the health of first leg goal scorer Brahim Diaz. The former Manchester City player is questionable with a knee strain which forced him to miss AC Milan’s Serie A game on the weekend. AC Milan striker and former Arsenal star Olivier Giroud returns to London with the defending Italian champions.

The Europa League Round of Sixteen begins Thursday with both Arsenal and Manchester United in action.  The Gunners play at Sporting Lisbon in Arsenal’s first Europa League match since November. As group winners, Arsenal avoided the playoff scramble to enter this next round. That scramble saw Manchester United eliminate Barcelona to progress to Thursday’s matchup versus Real Betis. The Red Devils return home to Old Trafford trying to pick up the pieces from their devastating league loss to Liverpool this weekend where the club incurred its worst thrashing since 1931. Real Betis, fifth in the La Liga table, played a goalless draw with Real Madrid Sunday. Thursday will also see West Ham return to Europa Conference League play when the Hammers travel to Cyprus to face AEK Larnaca.

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