Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Champions League returns with the first leg of the round of 16

Manchester City-Copenhagen and Real Madrid-Leipzig are the matches on Tuesday.

The story of the Champions League is mostly about Manchester City and Real Madrid.

The last two European champions are the only two teams to advance with six group stage wins. They are also the teams that will be the first to move when Europe’s most prestigious tournament continues in the round of 16.

City will visit Copenhagen on Tuesday, who will compete in the knockout phase for the first time in 13 years. Madrid visit Leipzig for the first leg.

Both are favorites to lift the trophy and prepare for their midweek duels with victories on Saturday and goals from their stars.

Erling Haaland confirmed his return from a foot injury with a brace in City’s 2-0 win over Everton. It was their first goals since November 28 when they beat Leipzig 3-2 in the Champions League.

Bayern Munich visit Lazio on Wednesday with a scare despite Harry Kane’s 28 goals this season and surviving the group stage unbeaten for the sixth year in a row.

Also on Wednesday, Paris Saint-Germain host Real Sociedad, who surprised by winning their group against Inter Milan, last year’s finalist.

The others

The first legs continue on February 20 when Inter visit Atlético de Madrid and PSV Eindhoven host Borussia Dortmund. On February 21, Napoli host Barcelona and Porto host Arsenal.

The return duels will take place between March 5 and 13.

There is more at stake in the Champions League. The four additional tickets will be decided for the 2025 Club World Cup, the renewed event that will start at the end of the next campaign and will include 12 European teams from a total of 32.

This new tournament lasts a month, with a group stage and round of 16 — to be held every four years between June and July.

Europe will send the winner of the Champions League between 2021 and 2024 – Chelsea, Madrid, City and this year’s champion – plus the best eight or nine teams in the classification at that time.’

The teams already involved are Bayern, PSG, Inter, Porto and Benfica.

Every result in the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League will count against UEFA’s ranking of countries’ collective performances.

The innovation is that this classification will provide additional tickets for the renewed Champions League with 36 teams for the next campaign and that it will be for the two countries that have the best results of three leagues.

Don’t worry

Carlo Ancelotti believes Real Madrid have shown they can survive without the injured Jude Bellingham, who will miss Leipzig on Tuesday in the round of 16 of the Champions League.

The meringues did not give any deadlines for Bellingham’s return, but Ancelotti confirmed that he will not play against Leipzig.

“We never think about those who are not there because I think it is more fair to think about those who are there. We have to think that Bellingham is not there, but without him we won four games out of four and that means those who replaced him in these games did very well,” said Ancelotti.

“Obviously, Bellingham is an important player … but this is an opportunity to be more motivated,” he added.

Brahim Díaz is expected to cover Bellingham’s absence, with Toni Kroos, Federico Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga in midfield. Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo will lead the attack.

World Nation News Desk
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