Thursday 19 April 2018

What time, what channel and our predictions for this week's Champions League games

Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho will be hoping the Premier League success from last week
Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho will be hoping the Premier League success from last week
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Your guide to the Champions League action over the next two nights.

TUESDAY

CHELSEA v BARCELONA - TV3 (7.45pm)

Chelsea’s trigger happy owner Roman Abramovich may have dispensed with the services of another Premier League title winning coach if it were not for the daunting run of fixtures Antonio Conte’s successor would have faced he is had been ushered into Stamford Bridge earlier this month.

As if two Champions League clashes with Barcelona were not challenging enough for Conte’s flagging Blues, they also have matches against both Manchester clubs in the Premier League over the next couple of weeks. It is a run that would test the best of managers and for one who has appeared to be keen to get out of his job for most of this season, it is daunting on so many levels.

Barca may not be the force they were five years ago, but they are still a potent attacking unit that can tear any rival to shreds when at their best.

One to watch: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

There is only one player to keep tabs on when Barca reach the latter stages of the Champions League, with this Argentine master eager to win the competition for a fifth time.

Verdict: Barcelona to blow Chelsea away at Stamford Bridge.

BAYERN MUNICH v BESIKTAS - eir sport 1 (7.45pm)

Besiktas coach Senol Gunes has insisted his team will not be intimidated by runaway German league leaders Bayern Munich when they travel to the Allianz Arena.

This draw against Besiktas was a huge break for a Bayern side that finished second in Group B behind Paris Saint-Germain and could have been paired with Manchester City, Barcelona, Tottenham, Liverpool or Manchester United, yet Gunes insists his side will be ready for the challenge despite the exit of star striker Cenk Tosun to Everton last month.

“No one expected us to beat Monaco, Leipizig and Porto in the group stages, but we won away from home three times and this proves that and we don’t fear anyone,” declares Gunes ahead of a game that will not be attended by Besiktas fans, with the club keen to avoid more crowd trouble that could trigger the two-year suspended ban from European competition hanging over them from.

One to watch: Robert Lewandowkski (Bayern Munich)

This Polish super-striker has to be mentioned when the debate over who should be recognised as Europe’s leading striker is raised. He has been in stunning form again this season.

Verdict: Comfortable home win for Bayern.

WEDNESDAY

SEVILLA v MANCHESTER UNITED - RTÉ 2 (7.45pm)

Sevilla conceded more goals in the group stages than any of the 16 teams left in the knock-out phase of the Champions League (12), with their 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Spartak Moscow in October evidence of a creaking defence.

Yet they showed in two group games against Liverpool that they can offer a threat going forward, with recently appointed coach Vincenzo Montella (who replaced the sacked Eduardo Berizzo in December), guiding the his side to the Copa del Rey final to confirm their potential in knock-out competition.

Montella was forced to apologise to Sevilla fans after their horrible 5-1 thrashing at Eibar earlier this month, with their leaky defence an area United will look to expose.

One to watch: Wissam Yedder

This Frenchman scored twice against Liverpool in November and can be deadly if he gets the right service.

Verdict: A score draw will be welcomed by United.

SHAKHTAR DONETSK v ROMA - eir sport 1 (7.45pm)

Roma’s two fine performances against Chelsea in the group stages of the Champions League confirmed they can be threat in this competition, with the draw against Shakhtar offering Eusebio Di Francesco’s side a path to the quarter-finals.

Yet a poor run of form in the opening weeks of 2018 has diluted optimism among Roma supporters, with successive home defeats against Atlanta and Sampdoria a huge dent to their confidence.

Shakhtar’s biggest concern may be a lack of match sharpness, as they played their first competitive game in two months last Friday after an extended winter break.

One to watch: Edin Dzeko

Chelsea made attempts to sign this former Man City striker in last month’s transfer window, but a deal could not be thrashed out and he will continue to spearhead Roma’s Champions League push.

Verdict: Roma to secure an away win against a side lacking match practice.

Online Editors

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