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Champions League Preview

Champions League football returns this weekend after four months. A three-week spell of top European football begins this Friday and leads to the final on Sunday 23rd August at Estádio Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Lisbon.

The second leg of the last 16 ties are up first with eight teams still battling to reach the quarter finals. These fixtures will take place at the away team’s stadium on Friday 7th August and 8th August.

The quarter finals then begin on Wednesday 10th August and conclude on Saturday 15th August. From this stage, the tournament becomes a straight knockout over one leg with losing teams eliminated. All fixtures from the quarter finals to the final are played in Lisbon, Portugal.

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Manchester City face Real Madrid at the Etihad in the pick of the last 16 on Friday. City lead Madrid 2-1, making them favourites to reach the quarter finals. Pep Guardiola’s side are eager to add to their Carabao Cup title this season but need to be at their best to beat Los Blancos, who won 10 of 11 games in La Liga since the restart.

A 1-1 draw between Napoli and Barcelona in the first leg sets up a big match at the Camp Nou on Saturday with home side Barcelona the overwhelming favourites. Barca suffered a disappointing domestic campaign, losing the title to Real Madrid and missing out on the Copa Del Rey to Athletic Bilbao in the quarters. Napoli sit eighth in Serie A but will want to add to their Copa Italia title this season.  

The winner Barcelona Napoli should meet Bayern Munich in the quarter finals. The Bundesliga champions, and outright favourites to win the Champions League, hold a 3-0 win over Chelsea in their last 16 tie.

Juventus take on Ligue 1 side Lyon in the last 16. Although Lyon lead the Italian champions 1-0 on aggregate, Juventus remain favourites to progress as Lyon haven’t played competitive fixtures since March.

In the quarter finals, Paris St Germain are determined to lift their first ever Champions League, but also haven’t played since March. PSG remain favourites, but face a tough task against surprise package, Atalanta. The Serie A side scored 115 goals in all competitions this season, including eight over two legs against Valencia in the previous round.

RB Leipzig face Atletico Madrid in the quarter finals. Atleti knocked out holders Liverpool with a superb smash and grab 3-2 result at Anfield after extra time while Leipzig put four past Tottenham over two legs. Both stand a good chance of progressing as outsiders to the final.

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski scored 11 goals in six matches in this season’s Champions League. Kylian Mbappé trails Lewandowski for goal contributions with five goals and four assists but could miss out due to injury.

PSG’s Angel Di Maria and Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez also top the assist charts, matching Mbappé with four assists each.

Bayern forward Serge Gnabry and Napoli’s Dries Mertens are the second top-scorers left with six goals each. Lyon’s Memphis Depay is in good form this season, netting five goals for the French side in the competition, while City’s Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus also have five goals each.

PSG keeper Keylor Navas has kept five clean sheets in seven appearances and let in just four goals in this season’s competition.