Champions League: Everything You Need To Know Ahead Of This Week's Action

Here is the lowdown on the four Champions League fixtures this week.
11:28, 15 Mar 2022

This week we are set to have confirmation of the eight teams that will make up this year’s Champions League quarter-finalists as Manchester United welcome Atletico Madrid to Old Trafford and Chelsea travel to Lille for their respective second-leg ties. 

Here is the lowdown on the four Champions League fixtures this week.

Manchester United vs Atletico Madrid (Agg: 1-1)*

Where: Old Trafford, Manchester

When: Tuesday 15th March 

Kick-off time: 8pm

How to watch: BT Sport 2

Sportsman Stat: Manchester United have been eliminated from their last three Champions League knockout stage games when drawing the first leg, doing so against Real Madrid (2012-13, last 16), Bayern Munich (2013-14, quarter-finals) and Sevilla (2017-18, last 16)

Following their late equaliser, courtesy of Anthony Elanga, at Wanda Metropolitano a fortnight ago, the morale among the Manchester United players should be high as they welcome the reigning La Liga champions to Old Trafford. Their last game out in the Premier League was a dramatic 3-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at home, in which the overall performance was bad but covered up by Cristiano Ronaldo’s scintillating hat-trick.

Boss Ralf Rangnick knows his side will need to be much better as a group if they are to keep their Champions League hopes alive because the Spanish visitors have been looking much sharper in the final third in recent weeks and there is undoubted quality in their ranks to punish the Rec Devils should they lack intensity. It’s a crucial game for either side as it remains the only competition that both teams are left in and with it all to play for, we could be set for an interesting 90 minutes, or more, tonight. 

Ajax vs Benfica (Agg: 2-2)

Where: Johan Cruiff Arena

When: Tuesday 15th March

Kick-off time: 8pm

How to watch: BT Sport 3

Sportsman Stat: Ajax have won all three home games in the Champions League this season. They will be looking to win four in a row at home for the first time since March 1996, when they won seven in succession under Louis van Gaal.

Erik Ten Hag’s side handled themselves well in Portugal in the first leg but they will be aware of the threat Benfica offer going forward, which should not be underestimated as they are playing in front of the home crowd. 

There is a lot riding on this match and without the away goals rule both teams will have to give it their all if they wish to be part of the last eight. With the likes of Sebastien Haller and Dusan Tadic leading the Ajax attack, the hosts are going to be the favourites to come out on top. But there are some gifted players in Benfica’s ranks, especially the young forward who is becoming one of Europe’s hottest prospects, Darwin Nunez.

Juventus vs Villarreal (Agg: 1-1)

Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin

When: Wednesday 16th March

Kick-off time: 8pm

How to watch: BT Sport 3

Sportsman Stat: Juventus are now winless in their last seven first leg ties in the Champions League (D3 L4), going on to be eliminated from four of their last five knockout ties. 

Massimiliano Allegri will likely be onto his players from the first whistle to set the tempo of the match against Unai Emery’s side as they look to make up for a slow start to the season with a strong finish. They are currently just seven points off the top of the table in Serie A and find themselves in a strong position at home to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League. 

The Old Lady will be boosted by Emery’s recent comments, in which he said the hosts were favourites, that brought to the surface a lack of confidence in his side. This could play into Allegri’s hands and he will push for his players to find an early goal because that will only disrupt the Spanish club’s rhythm and unity even more.

LOSC Lille vs Chelsea (Agg: 0-2)

Where: Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille

When: Wednesday 16th March

Kick-off times: 8pm

How to watch: BT Sport 2

Sportsman Stat: Lille have lost each of their three Champions League matches with Chelsea - two group stage matches in 2019-20 and the first-leg of this current tie. 

Thomas Tuchel’s side worked tirelessly to get an advantage on home soil heading into this second leg and the Blues turned in an impressive performance, with Kai Havertz continuing his fine form recently which has seen him spearhead the Chelsea attack. 

Havertzjpg

The German forward seems to have finally found his rhythm at Stamford Bridge and is starting to look more like the player the club spent over £70million for in 2020. Tuchel has built his side from the back, with his main focus on a tight defence, which executed their role perfectly in the first leg as chances for Lille were a rare sighting. 

Chelsea come into this game with an eye already on the quarter-finals but they cannot afford to be complacent because it could allow Lille back into the contest and on away turf, it will likely be a more gruelling 90 minutes for them than the first leg was.

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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