LONDON: Holders Bayern Munich and 2019 winners Liverpool both need turnarounds in the second legs of their Champions League quarter-finals to make the last four.
Bayern are away to Paris St Germain, 3-2 down from the first leg, on Tuesday while Liverpool welcome Real Madrid to Anfield on Wednesday seeking to overturn a 3-1 deficit.
In the other last-eight ties this week, Chelsea face FC Porto on Tuesday with a 2-0 first leg lead and their Premier League rivals Manchester City are away to Bayern’s Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund with a 2-1 advantage to protect.
Bayern head to Paris as a team of walking wounded, while PSG are likely to be without their best defender Marquinhos and waiting to see if key midfielder Marco Verratti has recovered in time from coronavirus.
Marquinhos sustained an adductor injury in the first leg and is likely to be missing at Parc des Princes. But Bayern’s concerns are worse.
Coach Hansi Flick’s side is running on low fuel after this weekend’s 1-1 draw with Union Berlin, where Flick tried to rest some first-choice players.
Goal-scoring winger Serge Gnabry wont return from isolation in time to face PSG after his positive test for the virus. Former PSG striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is still deputising for the prolific Robert Lewandowski, who was sorely missed when chances galore were wasted last week in Bayern’s loss to PSG.
Real are in their best form of the season and followed the first-leg win over Liverpool with a victory against Barcelona in their La Liga ‘Clasico’ to temporarily go top.
With no fans allowed inside Anfield, Liverpool’s players need all the confidence they can muster. Registering their first win and first open-play goals at home in 2021 could not have come at a better time in its league victory over Aston Villa on Saturday.
With the outgoing Premier League champions three points from the Champions League places, making the top four is proving a challenge. Winning a seventh European Cup might be the only ticket back into the competition next season.
Winning the Champions League might be the only path back into the competition next season for Chelsea as well.
For all the progress under Thomas Tuchel, the London club are in fifth place in the Premier League even after an emphatic 4-1 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Coronavirus travel restrictions mean the second leg is being played in Seville, Spain, just like the first leg last week. This counts as Porto’s away game.
Dortmund too are not on course to qualify for next season’s Champions League as they sit seven points outside of the Bundesliga’s top four.
Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2021