Sunday, May 16, 2021

Champions League Preview: Four games to watch and what time they start


tiamin rice

PHOTO: Twitter/Champions League

The Champions League returns! Back to the glittering from the stands and the lifting signature Champions League tune. After Real Madrid showed the rest of Europe their invincibility and sheer awesomeness last season, it is with renewed hopes the various teams gather setting their sights on the shiny Big ‘ol ears. With eight games crammed into the night spread into two different times, we look at the best games you should keep your eyes on.

Inter vs Tottenham 5:55pm

Following two consecutive defeats in the Premier League to Watford and Liverpool, Tottenham are not in that great place you’d expect them to be going into this fixture. With a potentially testy group involving Barcelona, Inter and PSV, Spurs will need to amass as much points as they can. Last season, Mauricio Pochettino’s men were placed in a similarly daunting group from which they rode out gallantly defeating Champions Real Madrid on the way.

Spurs’ opponents, Inter are a patchy work also in the Serie A. Despite the influx of new faces in the team, the Italian outfit has not won any game at home this season, turning in four points from a possible 12. Their return to the Champions League is worth celebrating of itself, however, Inter Milan will have to shape up quickly to avoid getting back to the doldrums. Luciano Spalleti, manager of Inter Milan, believes the Champions League will jolt them into the right frame after the indifferent dtart to the season. “I believe this match is the chance to kick into gear,” Spalleti said.

Liverpool vs PSG 8:00pm

Jurgen Klopp sounded a cautionary note while not downplaying his team’s chances in the pre-match press conference. “I can’t prepare a team to face Paris St-Germain without showing them the strengths of Paris,” said Klopp. “But, on the other side, it’s quite difficult to make a preparation because they have never played against us. Us playing against them will look different to what they have faced so far this season – that’s the truth.”

Liverpool will have to deal with the triple threat of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edison Cavani, while hoping their offensive triptych deliver at the other end of the pitch. Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino fired Liverpool to the final of the Champions League last season contributing goals and remarkable performances. For PSG, this season represents a fresh opportunity to progress into the deeper stages of the European competition after hiring Thomas Tuchel. While Tuchel has denied any mandate to win the Champions League from the board, PSG will prefer for their expensively assembled squad to get into the deep stages of the competition even if the Coach doesn’t clinch the trophy.

Barcelona vs PSV 5:55 pm

Barcelona kick-off their Champions League campaign at the Camp Nou against PSV. In a group alongside Tottenham and Inter Milan, PSV are expected to be the whopping boys, largely overmatched by their more talented peers. Barcelona looked uncomfortable in their come from behind 2-1 victory over Real Sociedad at the weekend but it could be argued the performance was because they had their sights on the Champions League. PSV head into the game with after scoring a healthy 13 goals in their last two games, however, their away record in the Champions League bodes ominously. Mark Van Bommel, a former Barcelona player, has said his players can fight for Lionel Messi’s shirt as long as they get a good result.

Monaco vs Atletico 8:00pm

Monaco’s record heading into their opening Champions League game against Europa League winners, Atletico Madrid, stands at one victory in their last six matches in all competitions. Atletico aren’t also having the best start to the season with just one win in the La Liga this season. The fixture sets up a return for French World Cup winner, Thomas Lemar to the Stade Louis II after he joined Atletico Madrid in the summer. Leonardo Jardim’s task is herculean with a lean and inexperienced squad to prosecute the Champions League with.

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