MATCHDAY: Struggling Barca in Kyiv; Man United at Atalanta
A look at what’s happening in the Champions League on Tuesday:
Coming off a three-match winless streak in the Spanish league with an interim coach, Barcelona will head to Ukraine to face Dynamo Kyiv without two of its veterans because of health issues. Defender Gerard Piqué is nursing a right calf strain and striker Sergio Aguero is under observation after undergoing heart tests. The team is being coached by interim manager Sergi Barjuán after Ronald Koeman was fired last week. Bayern Munich hosts Benfica knowing a win will secure its place in the next round. The Bavarian powerhouse is yet to concede a goal in the competition after beating Barcelona (3-0), Dynamo Kyiv (5-0) and Benfica (4-0). Bayern will be keen to keep the visitors scoreless again after conceding seven goals in its last two games. The German team’s coach, Julian Nagelsmann, hopes to be back on the sideline after recovering from the coronavirus. Benfica is winless in its last two games in all competitions.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes Manchester United to Italy to play Atalanta looking to build on a much-needed win at Tottenham in the English Premier League. Solskjaer said: “Criticism can make you doubt yourself or you can stand up for yourself and I’ve always enjoyed criticism. Just keep that coming, that’s fine.” United’s move to a three-man defense was key on Saturday as it stifled Spurs and gave them the platform to build on, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani leading the attack. “We have a squad to play many different ways,” Solskjaer said when asked about the plan to face Atalanta. United has a two-point lead over Villarreal and Atalanta after coming from behind to beat the Serie A side in Manchester two weeks ago. Villarreal welcomes Young Boys looking to improve its defensive performances after conceding nine goals in its last five matches in all competitions.
Sevilla has won three of its last four matches in the Spanish league but drew three in a row in the group stage of the Champions League to sit in second place. A win against third-place Lille will leave the Spanish club in a good position to reach the knockout stage. German team Wolfsburg is looking for its first win in the competition when it hosts group leader Salzburg. A new coach is helping its sense of optimism after Wolfsburg defeated Bayer Leverkusen away in the Bundesliga in Florian Kohfeldt’s first game in charge on Saturday. That victory brought an end to an eight-game run without a win under previous coach Mark van Bommel.
Juventus is struggling in Serie A, where it has lost two straight, but the Bianconeri have won all three of their Champions League games to lead the group. Another win over visiting Zenit St. Petersburg would secure a spot in the last 16 with two group games to spare. “We’ve got the first goal of the season within sight, which is great because it would allow us to focus more on (Serie A), where we’ve thrown away an entire month’s work in five days,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. Having battled through four qualifying rounds, Malmo has found the going tough in the group stage — losing all three matches. The Swedish champion hosts Chelsea on a goal difference of minus 11 following its 4-0 loss to the titleholder at Stamford Bridge two week ago. Domestically, Malmo is at least in good form, winning five of its last seven games to stay top. Chelsea also pulled three points clear of Liverpool at the top of the English Premier League at the weekend by beating Newcastle.
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