Preview: Juve eyeing a strong performance after Champions League humiliation
The Bianconeri were sent packing from the Champions League after finishing behind Real Madrid and Galatasaray in the group stages and now find themselves competing in Europe’s second tier competition.
Even though Antonio Conte’s men have been the best side in Italy by a margin, currently leading second placed AS Roma by nine points, their performances in Champions League were weak and uninspiring which resulted in their eventual knockout.
Preview: Arsenal welcomes Bayern Munich to the Emirates exactly one year later
Arsenal’s last meeting with Bayern Munich had a positive outcome, despite the English side having been eliminated from the Champions League. The away goal rule placed a dark cloud over a brilliant performance from the Gunners at the Allianz Arena.
That 0-2 victory offered Arsene Wenger’s side a breath of fresh air. They began to believe in themselves, and went on to finish strong in the Premier League.
Bayern Munich now returns to the Emirates, where they defeated the Gunners 1-3 last season. Oddly enough, the first leg last season took place on February 19th, which is the same date of this season’s first leg at the Emirates. But will the result repeat itself?
Preview: Atleti poised to make the most out of Milan’s misery
The Rossoneri have had a miserable start to their league campaign and are currently placed ninth in the league table, 31 points behind leaders Juventus. With the Serie A title well out of sight, Milan will try to make the most out of their European expeditions this season.
Despite their current form, Milan have proven to be a tough side to break down at the San Siro and even though Atletico have been enjoying a fine campaign they will find it difficult to beat the Italian side at their own backyard.
Diego Simeone’s men have made major strides this season and from being a club which battled for a top four spot in yesteryears, Atletico have turned into title contenders.
Their performances in the Champions League have been even more overwhelming. Atleti were one of the few teams which managed to go past the group stages of the competition unscathed winning five of the six matches they played with the away fixture against Zenit Petersburg resulting in a draw.
Those were the only two points Atletico dropped this season in Europe and the way they have been playing, it will not be a surprise if they do the unthinkable by winning the Champions League while being the underdogs, something Jose Mourinho’s Porto did when they won the competition back in 2004.
Many wondered how incoming manager Pep Guardiola could ever improve Jupp Heynckes’ side which recorded an impressive treble last season and on the course of winning the Champions League subjected arguably modern era’s finest side, FC Barcelona to a 7-0 loss on aggregate.
However with over a quarter of a season still left to play we can see just how much Bayern have improved under their new manager. From being the best side in Europe last season they are now manoeuvring over a path which could inevitably make them indestructible, and this is why Arsenal will find it extremely difficult to get the better of a side which has just lost twice this season.
Preview: Manchester City want to show their coming of age
Manuel Pellegrini has helped guide Manchester City beyond the Champions League Group Stage, but he now faces a more difficult task. The Chilean manager has his squad competing on four fronts this season, but getting past Barcelona may be his toughest task since his arrival at the Etihad.
Free-flowing offense has City scoring loads of goals, despite an occasional slip-up here and there. They are currently third in the Premier League standings, but they have a game in hand.
Preview: Can Leverkusen mount a challenge against one of the contenders for the crown?
Football is a game of finances as much as it is a game of skills; Rudi Völler knows this as much as everyone else does. The Bayer Leverkusen sporting director had an interesting statement to make prior to this clash as goal.com noted:
“In the end, money does score goals. You can see it at PSG and at Bayern. PSG are one of Europe's five best teams and they're among the favorites to win the Champions League, too.”
The Citizens have grown exponentially as a club since 2008 when the Abu Dhabi United Group acquired Manchester City. Upon the acquisition by its oil rich owners, the club benefited from a regular inflow of funds which have been since then invested on purchasing world class players from all of Europe and in the process City have established themselves as one of the strongest sides domestically.
After clinching the FA Cup title in 2011 the Citizens then went ahead to beat rivals Manchester United for the Premier League title in the 2011-2012 season which was their first in over 40 years. However much for their spending spree and their domestic dominance the Citizens have failed to make their mark in Europe.
Preview: Recent defeat and Champions League will be on Arsenal's mind
It was not too long ago that both Arsenal and Liverpool met at Anfield. Things did not go so well for the Gunners, who headed home with a heavy defeat, with four of Liverpool’s five goals coming in the opening 20 minutes of the match.
They will now get a chance to bounce back against the Reds, but this time at the Emirates.
One of Arsenal’s concerns will be their upcoming fixture against Bayern Munich. The North London side will go head-to-head with the German champions mid-week, which could cause Arsene Wenger to make some changes to his squad.
Preview: Day 2 without red-carded Ronaldo
Real Madrid’s 4-2 win over Villarreal last weekend assured Madridistas. The squad will now play their second consecutive league game without Ronaldo who is suspended. Once again, the spotlight has fallen on Jese Rodriguez and Gareth Bale.
The former has already been tipped as a future Ballon d’Or winner. He has earned the trust of Carlo Ancelotti, making 14 league appearances already with four goals and four assists.
“[Ancelotti] has helped me position myself better from a tactical perspective. He is a winner who always wants the team to improve, and that is very important,” Jese told Champions Magazine.
Preview: Neymar returns after his injury against Getafe
All the attention around Barcelona has been focused on their upcoming Champions League match. While a meeting with Manchester City promises to be an entertaining affair, the Catalans will first need to get by a Rayo Vallecano side that are in the relegation zone.
Tata Martino’s side jumped back into the top spot of the league standings, taking advantage of a slip-up from Atletico Madrid.
Saturday’s match will mark the return of Brazilian star Neymar, who has been out with an ankle injury since January 16th. But despite his return, he is likely to only see some minutes in the second half.
Preview: City looking for revenge against league leaders
Mourinho outsmarted his Chilean counterpart last time the two sides met as Chelsea raced to a 1-0 victory over Man City and thus becoming the only English side to beat the Citizens at their own backyard this season. Now the Blues will look forward to achieving the feat for the second time within a span of a month as the two sides lock horns at the Etihad once again.
It took a ferocious strike from Branislav Ivanovic to clinch all three points for the Blues as the Serbian full back scored the only goal of the match.
Preview: Will Distractions get in Bayern’s Way?
It is best to start with team news first. Vaclav Pilar, Marco Terrazzino, Vegar Hedenstad and Sebastian Freis are out for Freiburg. Mario Mandzukic is suspended for Bayern while Franck Ribery is out injured. Holger Badstuber is currently in rehab of course.
Freiburg is the only side aside from Leverkusen to take off points from Bayern this season in the Bundesliga. They needed a late goal, four minutes from the end of normal time to be precise, to take a 1-1 draw against a lethargic Bayern inn August. Lethargy however should not be a problem this time. The problem though could be an entirely different one.
Preview: Seedorf looking for a quick response after first league defeat
The Dutch manager suffered his first league defeat last Saturday, when a rampant Napoli side subjected the Rossoneri to a 3-1 defeat. Adel Taarabt gave the visitors a lead at Naples only for Gokhan Inler to level the scores and Gonzalo Higuain sealed the victory for Rafa Benitez’s side with a brace in the second half.
But despite of managing just two victories in his last five games, Milan’s 38 year old tactician seemed to be in a buoyant mood and remained confident that his team would respond against Bologna when the two sides meet on Friday.
Preview: Barcelona are 90 minutes away from meeting Real Madrid in the final
A 2-0 victory over Sociedad in the first match was far better than Barcelona's performance. The Catalans were not at their best, and it was very clear in the second half.
Martinez was sent off in the 44th minute, and Barcelona played the entire second half with a man advantage. In normal circumstances, the Blaugrana would have put the game beyond any doubt, but a strange own goal was all they had to show for that second half.
Sociedad will now welcome the La Liga leaders to Anoeta, where they have been impressive as of late.
Preview: Meeting at the Emirates is highly important for both clubs
Frustration and disbelief are perfect words to describe Arsenal and Manchester United's results at the weekend. Now they will both try to bounce back after dropping points.
Arsenal's heavy defeat at Anfield at the hands of an inspired Liverpool side raised a lot of concerns. Sloppy passing and not a lot of movement was Arsenal's downfall, which led to four goals in the opening 20 minutes. They will have a chance to sort things out Wednesday night in front of their fans.
For quite some time, football analysts and fans have been patiently waiting for the Gunners to crash and burn. It has happened far too often over the years, but this season Arsene Wenger's squad has managed to hold on tight.
Preview: Napoli's good home form could be the difference
Napoli took on Roma just a week ago in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-finals, and came away with a disappointing defeat. Two first half goals from Gervinho and Strootman had Roma looking comfortable heading into the break, but things quickly changed.
An own goal from De Sanctis in the 47th minute, was following by an equalizing goal from Mertens. Napoli looked destined to take a positive 2-2 draw back home with them, but an 88th minute strike from Gervinho gave Roma the victory.
Now the Giallorossi will have to dig in and perform for 90 minutes, in order to book their place in the final against Fiorentina.
Preview: Will Hamburg’s problems come to the forefront once again?
The fans and the players are currently not on the best of terms at Hamburg. Rafael Van der Vaart is no longer the fan favorite he used to be. Defeat after defeat in the Bundesliga has left the club in the relegation zone. The Bundesliga’s dinosaur, the only team in the league to have featured in every Bundesliga season, is in danger of being relegated this season.
Naturally, a manager who knows his team is fighting for survival would like to see his side be eliminated from all other competitions to focus on the league. However, HSV fans will not want to accept yet another defeat. Bayern beat them 3-1 in the league in their previous meeting where Hamburg showed plenty of signs of life under Bert Van Marwijk. But the manager is now holding on to his job by a thread.
Preview: Reds looking to close down gap between the top three
After a scintillating performance over the weekend which saw Liverpool record a highly impressive 5-1 victory over title favourites Arsenal, Brendan Rodger’s men will be hoping to continue their good form in order to close down the gap between themselves and the top three.
Liverpool’s powerful performance against the Gunners saw them dethroning Arsenal from the top of the league and considering the form they are currently in Liverpool will be fancying to have a go for the title and perhaps make it a four horse race for the title.
Preview: Can Tim Sherwood guide Spurs to a top four spot?
At one point under Andre Villas Boas, it had seemed Spurs had ventured too far and made too many mistakes to battle for the Premier League title. In terms of managerial experience as head coach, Tim Sherwood is a relative novice compared to Villas Boas. Thus watching Spurs beat Everton might have been surreal for some; it left Spurs three points behind Liverpool and just ten behind the league leaders.
Newcastle is coming into this one in poor form, having collected a solitary point in the past three matches. They have lost two matches back to back, at home to Sunderland and away to Chelsea. Tottenham had drawn 1-1 against Hull and had been battered 1-5 in front of their own fans by Manchester City before claiming all three points against Roberto Martinez’s men at the weekend.