Bayern, Liverpool needing comebacks to reach CL semifinals
LONDON (AP) — The Champions League talking points ahead of the second-leg matches in the quarterfinals:
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN VS. BAYERN MUNICH (3-2)
Bayern heads to Paris as a team of walking wounded, while PSG is likely to be without its best defender Marquinhos and waiting to see if key midfielder Marco Verratti has recovered in time from coronavirus. Marquinhos sustained an adductor injury in the first leg and is likely to be missing at Parc des Princes. But Bayern’s concerns are worse. Coach Hansi Flick’s side is running on low fuel after this weekend’s 1-1 draw with Union Berlin, where Flick tried to rest some first-choice players. Goal-scoring winger Serge Gnabry won’t return from isolation in time to face PSG after his positive test for the virus. Former PSG striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is still deputizing for the prolific Robert Lewandowski, who was sorely missed when chances galore were wasted last week in Bayern’s loss to PSG. But indications are that left back Lucas Hernandez, midfielder Leon Goretzka and winger Kingsley Coman could be ready in time. Flick badly needs a fit Coman, who scored the winner in last year’s final against PSG and looks to have shaken off a sore knee from Saturday.
CHELSEA VS. PORTO (2-0)
Winning the Champions League might be the only path back into the competition next season for Chelsea. For all the progress under Thomas Tuchel, the London club is in fifth place in the Premier League even after an emphatic 4-1 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Coronavirus travel restrictions mean the second leg is being played in Seville, Spain, just like the first leg last week. This counts as Porto’s away game. It has won five in a row in all competitions, the latest against Tondela in the Portuguese league on Saturday keeping the team second. The defending Portuguese champion is seeking its first semifinal appearance since 2004, when José Mourinho guided the club to its second European Cup. Porto, however, has lost its last six matches with English clubs. Its leading scorer in the competition this season is midfielder Sérgio Oliveira, with five goals.
BORUSSIA DORTMUND VS. MANCHESTER CITY (1-2)
Reaching the semifinals would be a huge achievement for Dortmund, which is not on course to qualify for next season’s Champions League while seven points outside of the Bundesliga’s top four. That will make it very hard to keep star striker Erling Haaland in the face of interest from Europe’s biggest clubs. However, sporting director Michael Zorc has said the club is planning to start next season with the Norwegian in the squad. City is one of the sides keen to sign the 20-year-old Haaland but its ability to keep the star largely quiet in the first leg helped to secure the advantage. Haaland setting up Marco Reus for a goal in Manchester means City will have to fight to secure progress. Pep Guardiola’s decision to rest stars like Kevin De Bruyne on Saturday against Leeds backfired when City lost to the promoted side. But City is still 11 points ahead at the top of the Premier League.
LIVERPOOL VS. REAL MADRID (1-3)
Real Madrid is in its best form of the season. It followed the first-leg win over Liverpool with a victory against Barcelona in the Spanish league clásico to temporarily go top. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane still has injury problems, though, as it’s unlikely defenders Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane will play the return match in England. Forward Lucas Vázquez is ruled out after injuring his left knee against Barcelona. With no fans allowed inside Anfield, Liverpool’s players need all the confidence they can muster. Registering its first win — and first open-play goals — at home in 2021 could not have come at a better time in its league victory over Aston Villa on Saturday. With the outgoing Premier League champions three points from the Champions League places, making the top four is proving a challenge. Winning a seventh European Cup might be the only ticket back into the competition next season.
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