Champions League 2014: Analysing Wednesday's Key Battles and Likely Heroes

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18:  Victor Valdes of Barcelona rises to make a save under pressure during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Manchester City and Barcelona at the Etihad Stadium on February 18, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The Champions League knockout stages continue thick and fast, as Wednesday sees four big teams clash for the prize of a place in this season's quarter-final line-up.

Paris Saint-Germain host Bayer Leverkusen after destroying their opponents 4-0 on German soil. They defend an almost unassailable lead back at the Parc des Princes.

The other tie on Wednesday is arguably the glamour match of the whole round, as Manchester City travel to Spain to take on Barcelona. The Catalan giants scored a significant victory over City at the Etihad Stadium, coming away with two precious away goals.

Here are Wednesday's fixtures and how to watch both matches, as well as a preview of the key battles and likely heroes from both games: 

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg - Wednesday, March 12.
FixtureDateTime (GMT)Time (ET)Stream/TV
Barcelona v Manchester CityMarch 127:45 p.m.3:45 p.m.Sky Sports 1 and HD / Sky Go (all U.K. only) / Fox Soccer 2 Go (U.S. only)
Paris Saint-Germain v Bayer LeverkusenMarch 127:45 p.m3:45 p.m.Sky 1 and HD / Sky Sports 4 and HD / Sky Go (all U.K. only) / Fox Soccer 2 Go (U.S. only)

Streams: Fox Soccer and Sky Go.


Paris Saint-Germain v Bayer Leverkusen

Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press

With the oil-rich team from Paris performing wonders in the first leg, it is difficult to see Bayer Leverkusen playing for anything more than pride on Wednesday.

PSG are undefeated at home in 27 European competition fixtures now, per, and they have driven themselves into the elite of world football in the past few seasons.

At their helm is, of course, their talisman.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has no equal in French football. The former Barcelona striker already has 33 goals from the domestic league and Champions League combined, per

His 10 goals in Europe make him the competition's top scorer, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, per BBC Sport.

The mercurial footballer also scored twice in the first leg in Germany.

Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press

French football writer Robin Bairner recently commented on Zlatan (known to many by just his first name, as all good heroes should be).

He tweeted:

Leverkusen are on a devastating run of form having lost their last five games, per

It is questionable if they have anyone who can stop the might of Zlatan, but it will be left to 33-year-old defender Emir Spahic to try.

The experienced Bosnian will find such a battle a hard one to win and we could see the Swedish hitman fill his boots once again.


Barcelona v Manchester City

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates scoring the opening goal from a penalty kick with his team-mates during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Manchester City and Barcelona at the Etihad Stad
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

It was vital for Barcelona to take control of this tie at the Etihad stadium and that is exactly what they did, taking two goals and a clean sheet away with them back to Spain.

It showed the difference in the two sides: One with all the experience of top-level European competition under their belt. The other with a naivety that you cannot buy your way out of. 

Despite City's big spending over the years they have been unable to progress in the Champions League. Their victory over Bayern Munich was a high point in their European adventures, but it did not prepare them for the sharp end of the competition.

Scott Heppell/Associated Press

The onus will lie on Sergio Aguero to fire them back into contention on Wednesday, and his ability is something the team have missed due to his spells out with injury.

The 25-year-old Argentina striker has six goals from his five Champions League games this year, and he averages just under a goal a game in the Premier League, per, scoring 15 times. 

If the diminutive player is to have an influence on the outcome of this game he will have to battle international team-mate Javier Mascherano, who has established himself as first-choice at the heart of the Barcelona defence.

It is questionable if the former Liverpool man has the pace to deal with Aguero, and it could be a tricky night for him if he has to mark his compatriot.

The game could well become a classic if Aguero and City score early and force their illustrious opponents onto the back foot. 

The night has the potential to represent one of Aguero's finest moments of his career.