The second legs of the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals are upon us, as Europe's premier club competition draws ever nearer to its conclusion. With two matches on Tuesday and two more on Wednesday, fans will once again get to enjoy 180 minutes of world-class football.
On Tuesday, Chelsea will host Paris Saint-Germain while Real Madrid will travel to Germany to take on Borussia Dortmund. The next day, cup holders Bayern Munich will host Manchester United while Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona battle it out in an all-Spanish tie.
|Champions League Quarter-Final Schedule|
|Date||Time||Teams||TV info||Live stream|
|April 8||7.45 p.m. BST/2:45 p.m. ET||Chelsea v PSG||ITV||ITV Mobile|
|April 8||7.45 p.m. BST/2:45 p.m. ET||Dortmund v Real||Sky Sports 2||Sky Go app|
|April 9||7.45 p.m. BST/2:45 p.m. ET||Atletico v Barcelona||Sky Sports 2||Sky Go app|
|April 9||7.45 p.m. BST/2:45 p.m. ET||Bayern v Manchester United||Sky Sports||Sky Go app|
|Where's the Match|
French champions PSG dominated Chelsea at the Parc des Princes a week ago, and a late goal from Javier Pastore ensured Les Bleus will get to travel to London to defend a comfortable 3-1 lead.
As reported by Football Facts 101, the French outfit will be without star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic:
In the absence of the Swede, expect Edinson Cavani to spearhead the French attack, with Brazilian international Lucas Moura taking the Uruguayan's spot out on the wing.
During last week's game, PSG averaged 59 percent possession of the ball as Chelsea's subpar pass completion percentage (81 percent) distorted the flow of the Blues' attack and gave the ball back to the French squad all too soon.
Chelsea will look to hold far more of the ball in the return game and put more emphasis on clean passing to keep the ball away from Marco Verratti and Thiago Motta in midfield.
With possession, the Blues will have more space for dangerous midfielders like Eden Hazard and Willian to make runs into the box, which will make striker Samuel Eto'o less isolated in front of goal and give the hosts a chance to vastly improve on their shot count.
Borussia Dortmund face a near-impossible task, down by three goals to the mighty Real Madrid. Los Blancos went into last week's match looking to avenge last year's semi-final loss and did just that, embarrassing the Schwarzgelben 3-0.
The German side were forced to play without forward Robert Lewandowski, who has been decisive against Los Blancos in the past:
Real fired an incredible 20 shots at the German goal during the first leg, and limiting shots will be Dortmund's primary objective in this match. With the talented attacking trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema all renowned for their pace, Los Blancos will get to exploit the three-goal deficit even more on the counter.
Dortmund's best option would be an all-out assault on Real's controlling midfielders, limiting their control of the ball and cutting off all supplies for Madrid's attacking unit. But with the kind of talent Real boast in their ranks, one has to wonder whether such a thing can be done for the full 90 minutes.
Atletico Madrid will host Barcelona in arguably the tensest of all remaining ties, as both clubs have already played out four draws this season. The 1-1 result at the Camp Nou on Tuesday slightly favours the Atleti's, but as reported by AS' Dani Hidalgo, the availability of Diego Costa is still very much up in the air:
The forward’s involvement in the second leg of Atlético’s quarter-final tie against Barça remains uncertain, and the player expressed his pessimism at his recovery chances earlier in the day. “The second leg? I won’t make it,” he told the attending media.
As he arrived at the Clínica Fremap in Majadahonda for tests to ascertain the extent of his injury, he insisted that he would be confined to the Vicente Calderón stands for the clash on 9 April. “The team looks very good to me and I’m in good spirits,” he said.
However after undergoing the tests and speaking to the doctors he changed his opinion completely. Smiling he said he would be "fit for everything" and that he was already "much better than yesterday".
Losing Costa would be a tough pill to swallow for the hosts, but Diego Ribas showed everyone he can be a worthy replacement when he scored the opener in last week's tie.
Barcelona are a ball-dominant team, as evidenced by their possession statistics last week (71 percent), but Atletico have the kind of discipline in defense to cope with the constant pressure La Blaugrana bring.
By limiting space between the individual members of the back line and attacking the passing patterns rather than the ball, the hosts can keep Barcelona's forwards at bay on the edge of the box and rely on their world-class keeper, Thibaut Courtois, to deal with whatever Barca throws his way.
The visitors have struggled defensively at times this season, including in their weekend win over Real Betis, and with the loss of Victor Valdes (as reported by the club's website), Barcelona will have to find a way to bring down opponent's shot-conversion rate.
Atletico only hit the target twice in last week's fixture, yet one of those shots resulted in a goal.
Finally, Bayern Munich will host Manchester United as the defending champs look to build on last week's 1-1 result and eliminate the Red Devils.
Bastian Schweinsteiger will be suspended following his controversial second booking in Tuesday's match, and his absence will hurt the team more than fans might expect. Javi Martinez will most likely slide forward from the centre-back position, and with Dante still sidelined with an injury, Daniel van Buyten looks set to start against United.
The Belgian international is a fine defender but lacks mobility and has a history of making poor decisions with the ball at his feet, which happens to be an important part of Pep Guardiola's on-pitch philosophy.
David Moyes will instruct his players to pressure van Buyten whenever he has the ball, hoping the experienced defender makes a mistake and turns the ball over in a dangerous area.
With Juan Mata cup-tied and Shinji Kagawa lacking in match rhythm, the Bavarians have the clear upper hand when it comes to firepower in midfield, and the hosts will be looking to control possession like they did in Manchester (75 percent).
Improving on a very average conversion rate (16 shots, one goal) will be the team's biggest objective, as an early goal could end this tie in favour of Bayern before the visitors ever get the chance to settle down and create chances of their own.