June 24, 2021

CL last 16: Advantage Liverpool, can Barca stage fightback?

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The Champions League last-16 second-leg ties continue on Wednesday with Liverpool, Barcelona and PSG in action, but who will make it to the quarter-finals?

Liverpool vs RB Leipzig (agg 2-0), Wednesday, 8pm

Liverpool played RB Leipzig in Budapest last week in the Champions League
Image: Liverpool halted a run of three defeats with a win against RB Leipzig in the first leg

Team news

Liverpool could be without Roberto Firmino. The forward was absent from training ahead of the game, which will take place in Budapest, due to a sore knee.

RB Leipzig have Marcel Halstenberg and captain Marcel Sabitzer back in their ranks. But Angelino is still recovering from a muscle injury and will miss out, as will Konrad Lainer and Dominik Szoboszlai.

What happened last time?

Liverpool broke a run of three straight defeats with their designated away victory at Budapest, where Wednesday’s tie again takes place.

Jurgen Klopp’s side hit their opponents with a quickfire double after half-time with Mohamed Salah (53) and Sadio Mane (58) punishing some inexplicable defending from the Bundesliga side.

The good news for Liverpool is they have never been eliminated from a European Cup/Champions League knockout tie after winning away from home in the first leg. In addition, the last time they won both legs in the round of 16 was back in 2008/09 against Real Madrid.

Liverpool's Roberto Firminho takes on RB Leipzig's Nordi Mukiele in Tuesday's last 16 tie
Image: Liverpool lead 2-0 in the Champions League last-16 tie

What’s happened since?

RB Leipzig could not have timed their Champions League round-of-16 return leg any better. Leipzig’s 3-0 win at Freiburg at the weekend was their sixth straight league victory, while Liverpool slumped to a club-record extending sixth consecutive home league defeat on Sunday, losing 1-0 to Fulham.

Liverpool have only beaten Premier League basement boys Sheffield United since their first-leg win, losing their three other games, with their two goals against the Blades the only match in which they have managed to score.

The key stats

FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Fulham’s win over Liverpool in the Premier League

  • Since his Borussia Dortmund side were beaten by Bayern Munich in the 2012-13 Champions League final, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is unbeaten in his three games against German opponents in the competition (W2 D1), with all three of those fixtures coming in the Round of 16.
  • Liverpool will be the third English opponent RB Leipzig have faced away from home in the Champions League since the start of last season (also Spurs and Man Utd), while they suffered their heaviest defeat in European competition against Man Utd at Old Trafford back in October (0-5).
  • This will be the 21st time Liverpool have hosted German opposition across all European competitions, while they are unbeaten in the previous 20 (W16 D4), scoring 52 goals and conceding just nine in return.

PSG vs Barcelona (agg 4-1), Wednesday, 8pm

PSG's Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring his side's second goal against Barcelona
Image: PSG’s Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick against Barcelona in the first leg

Team news

PSG will once again be without Neymar, who is continuing to recover from a thigh injury sustained last month. Juan Bernat is still sidelined, while Moise Kean remains in self-isolation due to coronavirus.

Barcelona continue to have a string of players absent through injury. Gerard Pique, Ronald Araujo, Philippe Coutinho, Sergi Roberto and Ansu Fati will all miss the decider.

What happened last time?

In an incredible first-leg encounter, Kylian Mbappe’s hat-trick inspired last season’s Champions League finalists PSG to an emphatic victory.

Lionel Messi gave Barca the lead from the penalty spot after Frenkie de Jong had his heels clipped by Layvin Kurzawa before Mbappe responded five minutes later for the visitors. After the break, Mbappe completed his hat-trick with Moise Kean scoring PSG’s third goal in between his team-mate’s second-half strikes.

Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring for Barcelona against PSG
Image: Lionel Messi was also on the scoresheet at the Nou Camp

It leaves Barca requiring another considerable comeback heading into the second leg on Wednesday, four years on from the sides’ memorable last-16 clash in which the La Liga team recovered from a 4-0 first-leg loss in France by winning the second 6-1 at the Nou Camp.

Barcelona are yet to concede a goal away from home in the Champions League this season (three games), but following defeats against Juventus and PSG in their last two games in the competition, face the prospect of losing three in a row in the European Cup/Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.

What’s happened since?

Barcelona are unbeaten since their defeat at the Nou Camp. It was followed by a disappointing draw against Cadiz in La Liga, but they have won all four games since. This run also included a comeback in the Copa del Rey, eventually knocking out Sevilla.

PSG followed their superb Champions League victory with a 2-0 defeat to Monaco in Ligue 1, but have won and kept clean sheets in their last three games, scoring eight goals.

The key stats

Moise Kean nodded home PSG's third Champions League goal
Image: Moise Kean nodded home PSG’s third Champions League goal
  • PSG have won two of their last three games against Barcelona in the Champions League (L1), as many victories as they managed against the Catalan side in their first eight meetings in the competition (W2 D3 L3).
  • In the history of the European Cup/UEFA Champions League, no team has ever progressed from a knockout tie over two legs after losing the first leg at home by a margin of three goals.
  • This will be the first UEFA Champions League meeting between PSG and Barcelona at the Parc des Princes since February 2017, when the home side recorded a 4-0 victory. This remains PSG’s biggest margin of victory in a home knockout game in the UEFA Champions League, while it’s also Barcelona’s joint-heaviest defeat in a knockout game away from home in the competition (also 0-4 v Liverpool in May 2019 and v Bayern in April 2013).
  • Barcelona have only won one of their last nine away games in the knockout stages of the Champions League (D3 L5), beating Manchester United 1-0 in April 2019. They have scored just three goals in total across these nine games, while failing to score at all in six of them.

Champions League key dates

Round of 16 second legs: March 9/10/16/17

Quarter-final and semi-final draws: March 19

Quarter-finals first legs: April 6/7

Quarter-finals second legs: April 13/14

Semi-finals first legs: April 27/28

Semi-finals second legs: May 4/5

Final: May 29 (Atatürk Olympic Stadium)

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