AFP Sports looks ahead to today’s Champions League action with reigning champions Real Madrid, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and debutants Leicester City all looking to clinch places in the last 16 with two games to spare.
Legia Warsaw (POL) v Real Madrid (ESP)
Incidents at Legia’s last home game, a 6-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund, means this meeting with the reigning champions will be played behind closed doors in the Polish capital. Legia lost 5-1 in Madrid last time out and are yet to register a point in the group -- another defeat here will eliminate them, while even a draw may not put off the inevitable. Madrid, meanwhile, will be through with a win, provided Borussia Dortmund also win. Zinedine Zidane’s men warmed up for this game with a 4-1 win at Alaves in which Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a hat-trick. They are top of La Liga, unbeaten in 15 games this season and have scored 24 times in their last five matches. Ronaldo, meanwhile, is just two goals away from reaching a century in European competition. Pepe is out, but it is set to be a daunting task for Legia, who are currently sixth in their domestic league.
Juventus (ITA) v Lyon (FRA)
The 2015 finalists Juventus will qualify for the next round with a win over their struggling French visitors. Juve are unbeaten in their last 18 home matches in Europe and are fresh from beating Napoli 2-1 in Serie A at the weekend when Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain scored the winner against his old club and refused to celebrate. Paulo Dybala is absent for the hosts, who won 1-0 in Lyon two weeks ago. Striker Alexandre Lacazette missed a penalty for the Ligue 1 side in that match but he has been back in goalscoring form, grabbing a brace in a 2-1 away win at high-flying Toulouse at the weekend. After Gianluigi Buffon saved Lacazette’s penalty in the reverse fixture, Juventus had Mario Lemina sent off but beat Lyon thanks to Juan Cuadrado’s strike. Lyon will be out if they lose and Sevilla win.
FC Copenhagen (DEN) v Leicester City (ENG)
The Leicester City fairytale can reach the Champions League knockout phase if the shock English champions get a result at Copenhagen, who have four points so far. One of only three teams in the competition on full points from the opening three games, the feeling is that coach Claudio Ranieri is focusing on Europe. A win in Denmark will secure a place in the last 16, and they warmed up with a 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend. They travel to Denmark with their Danish international goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel in exceptional form. Copenhagen, who had gone 23 games without defeat before losing 1-0 in the reverse fixture, come into the match still unbeaten domestically and six points clear at the top of their league.
Borussia Dortmund (GER) v Sporting Lisbon (POR)
Dortmund have started strongly in Group F and will secure their place in the last 16 with a win at home to Sporting at the Signal Iduna Park. Thomas Tuchel’s men were 2-1 winners when the teams met in Portugal recently and have lost just one of their last 11 matches. However, they were held to a goalless draw by Schalke in the Ruhr derby at the weekend and sit only sixth in the Bundesliga. In addition, they have a long injury list with Marcel Schmelzer, Sven Bender, Marco Reus, Neven Subotic and Erik Durm all on the sidelines. Sporting need a positive result to keep alive their chances of reaching the knockout phase for the first time since 2008/09 but they have had one draw and suffered 11 defeats on their 12 previous visits to Germany. Jorge Jesus’s men are also struggling for form - last Friday’s 0-0 draw at Nacional left them with only one win in five, a run that has seen them drop to fourth place. Captain Adrien is injured.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Miscellany