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Champions League: Manchester City Host PSG While Juve Head To Stamford Bridge

Matchday 5 of the UEFA Champions League season will see the fortunes of many clubs swing on the continental stage, as just four of the 16 knockout round spots are filled so far. Liverpool, Ajax, Juventus and Bayern Munich have secured their spot in the Round of 16, while RB Leipzig, Besiktas and Malmo FF have been eliminated. The other 17 teams are competing to fill the remaining 12 spots, including the likes of defending champions Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.

We take a look at the top encounters to look forward to during the week on the continental stage:

 

CITIZENS TAKE ON PARISIANS

The biggest clash of the week will take place on Thursday as the Parisians head to Manchester to take on Pep Guardiola’s men. Manchester City currently lead the group with nine points, while Mauricio Pochettino’s Paris Saint-Germain closely trail them with eight points. PSG took revenge on Manchester City for dashing their hopes of a Champions League title last season by defeating them 2-0 in their first group encounter. Idrissa Gueye scored in the first ten minutes giving the Parisians a lead to defend, while Lionel Messi scored in the second half to seal the deal for the financial behemoth.

The Citizens will enter the fixture on the back of a 3-0 victory over Everton last night, while PSG beat Nantes 3-1, featuring Lionel Messi’s first-ever Ligue 1 goal. With Pep Guardiola’s men trailing Chelsea in the Premier League, the club will be hoping to top the group and boost their confidence.

There are unlikely to be any major changes in the City lineup, but we can expect to see quite a few changes by the visitors. Sergio Ramos, who is yet to play for the French club, can make his debut in the Champions League game. Neymar’s fitness for the encounter is still in doubt and his absence will be a boost to City’s defences.

It is hard to predict the outcome when two titan’s clash, but home advantage and better form might just allow Manchester City to come out victorious from the fixture.

 

CAN THE RED DEVILS MAKE A TURNAROUND

After weeks of speculation and delay, Manchester United have finally fired their manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. A 4-1 humiliating defeat at the hands of minnows Watford proved to be the final straw for fans and the management at Old Trafford. The fixture against Villarreal could not come at a worse time for the club as teething troubles now see them eighth in the Premier League, with the Red Devils winning just one of their last five Premier League matches. Michael Carrick will be leading the team on Monday night while the club looks for an interim manager.

United’s fortunes in the Champions League are far from secure – even though the club sits at the top of the table, they have accumulated just seven points from four fixtures. A 2-1 loss to Young Boys in their opening match came as a shock, but they have since rallied to defeat both Villarreal and Atalanta. Unai Emery’s side fare no better – they have been unable to beat either Manchester United or Atalanta so far in the group, accumulating points through victories over the much weaker Swiss outfit.    

Both sides need just a single win to seal the spot, but it will be the Spanish side who will be under greater pressure to perform as they have an opportunity in their hands on Monday. The Red Devils are yet to keep a clean sheet in the Champions League this season, and it will be the chinks in their defence that Unai Emery will be keen to exploit. Compounding United’s troubles, Paul Pogba, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw and Edinson Cavani have been ruled out due to injury, but the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo who has a superb record on the European stage can come to their aid.

 

JUVENTUS TAKE ON THE BLUES

Defending champions Chelsea will host Juventus at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday as they are just a point away from sealing a seat in the knockout rounds. The Old Lady triumphed during the last encounter between the two sides, with Federico Chiesa’s lone goal making the difference. Juve have been unbeaten in the Champions League so far – in stark contrast to their miserable Serie A season, where they are eighth with just 6 wins from 13 fixtures. The Blues on the other hand have rallied since the loss to Turin-based club, registering back-to-back victories against Malmo to stay second.

Thomas Tuchel’s men will enter the fixture on the back of a 3-0 victory over Leicester City on Saturday. Antonio Rudiger, N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic scored in a one-sided encounter dominated by Chelsea’s midfielders. It will be a tough task for Massimiliano Allegri to break through Chelsea’s defence – the club have given away just four goals so far in the Premier League. The return of Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku to training is good news for Thomas Tuchel, but it remains to be seen if both the stars will be given game time against Juve. Federico Chiesa is once again likely to spearhead the attack alongside Alvaro Morata for the Old Lady.

Juventus have been unbeaten on English soil since 2010, and they will head to Stamford Bridge with confidence.

 

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