After a break of nearly a month, the UEFA Champions League resumes this week. Some old rivalries fire up again while some new ones are born. Each tie has something different to look forward to.
Here is a look at the mouth-watering action coming up:
Juventus v Barcelona – 4:45am (AEST), Wednesday, April 12 @ Juventus Stadium, Turin
With Juventus dismantling Porto and Barcelona rewriting history in their comeback against PSG, the rematch of the 2015 finalists could not be more evenly poised. Juventus have only six of the 11 that started in the 2015 final, representing a side that has experience from making the decider, but also a fresher, revamped side that is arguably better.
Barcelona still have 10 of the starting 11 from that night in Berlin, with the notable absentee right-back Dani Alves, who is now at Juventus. Barcelona have since moved on with Sergi Roberto being preferred on the right side. This will be a battle of experience and youth.
Juventus won’t let Barcelona make wave after wave of attacks like they did against PSG in the second leg, instead focussing on being much better organised defensively. Expect Juventus fullbacks Dani Alves and Alex Sandro to sit deeper, making it harder for Neymar and Lionel Messi to find space to run at the Juventus centre-backs. Barcelona will be without defensive midfield linchpin Sergio Busquets because of suspension.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 10, 2017
Dortmund v Monaco – 4:45am (AEDT), Wednesday, April 12 @ BVB Stadion Dortmund, Dortmund
This tie represents a battle of two very evenly matched sides. Dortmund were really impressive at home against Benfica, winning 4-0 with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang having his shooting boots on this time. While Monaco were really strong against Manchester City, defeating the English side 3-1.
Both teams have never met In European competition before, however Aubameyang was on loan to Monaco for half a season in 2010. It represents a long-awaited homecoming against one of his former sides.
If both of these teams play to their potential like they did in the second leg this could be a very exciting tie. Both of these teams have riches of quick, attacking talent on display. Dortmund will expect to have control of the ball, and this will suit them as much as it does Monaco.
Dortmund Monco is gonna be fire. 20 goals scored after both legs
— 🇳🇬 (@VictorMosees) March 17, 2017
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid – 4:45am (AEST), Thursday, April 13 @ Allianz Arena, Munich
Rewind back to April 2014: Real Madrid had just demolished Bayern Munich 4-0 at Allianz Arena, inflicting Bayern’s biggest ever European home loss. What a difference three years make, with Carlo Ancelotti now coaching six of the starting Bayern Munich players from that fateful night against his former team Real Madrid.
Toni Kroos and Xabi Alonso, who both featured that night for Bayern and Madrid respectively, have swapped clubs and will finally be playing against their old sides for the first time. This represents an interesting individual battle as both players have since played key roles since swapping over in 2014.
Real Madrid wanted Kroos as he appeared to be the younger like-for-like replacement, with the ageing Alonso appearing to be on the downhill at the time. Alonso has since found freedom at Bayern, playing a key role sitting at the back in the midfield, controlling the ball without having to worry about pressing defensively. Expect both of these men to have a big say in an emotional return for both players.
— RMadrid Edition (@RMadridEdition) April 10, 2017
Atletico Madrid v Leicester – 4:45am (AEST), Thursday, April 13 @ Estadio Vicente Calderon, Madrid
There were more miracles coming from defending Premier League champs Leicester, this time with captain Wes Morgan rising to lead the Foxes to a win over Sevilla. Kasper Schmeichel pulled off a heroic penalty save in the dying minutes to help Leicester escape with a 2-0 win.
Now the competition steps up another notch for the Foxes, taking on one of Europe’s heavyweights in Atletico Madrid. Just how captain Morgan and his centre-back partner Robert Huth go about dealing with Atletico’s quick and efficient forward set-up remains to be seen.
Jamie Vardy has been in strong scoring form for the Foxes recently, but he will be needed to keep that up if Leicester are to head home with a chance of taking down last season’s defeated finalists.
— ITV News Central (@ITVCentral) April 10, 2017