The UEFA Champions League quarter-finals get underway in Lisbon on Wednesday, four months later than scheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic and as one-off matches, all behind closed doors, rather than two-legged ties.
Atalanta v PSG -(Estadio da Luz, Wednesday 1900 GMT)
On paper, Paris Saint-Germain should beat Atalanta. After all, Neymar’s annual salary of around 36 million euros ($42.5m) is believed to be equivalent to Atalanta’s entire wage bill.
However, PSG have yet to convince at the business end of the Champions League since the Qatari takeover of the club nearly a decade ago and have not been beyond the quarter-finals in that time.
scoreline Atalanta v PSG: 1:2
RB Leipzig v Atletico -(Estadio Jose Alvalade, Thursday 1900 GMT)
Runners-up in 2014 and 2016, Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid are targeting a third final in seven seasons having dumped out holders Liverpool in a last-16 tie completed in March.
Atletico’s preparations for Lisbon hit a snag when two players, Angel Correa and Sime Vrsaljko, tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend and were quarantined. However, no further cases were detected following another round of testing ahead of the team’s flight to Portugal.
Atletico finished the season strongly, going 11 games unbeaten since La Liga’s return to seal third place. In total, they are undefeated in 18 matches dating back to the start of February.
RB Leipzig are appearing in the Champions League knockout phase for the first time, but the club’s ambitions suffered a substantial blow following the sale of top scorer Timo Werner to Chelsea.
The Germans swept 2019 runners-up Tottenham aside in the previous round although coach Julian Nagelsmann must now find a way to replace the 34-goal void left behind by Werner.
Barcelona v Bayern -(Estadio da Luz, Friday 1900 GMT)
These are the only two former European champions left in the competition, with five titles each, making this the tie of the round.
Barcelona beat Bayern when the sides last met in the semi-finals in 2015, but this time a repeat of the outcome, when the teams clashed in the 2013 semis somehow, seems more likely.
Then Bayern ran riot, winning 7-0 on aggregate. They come to Lisbon fresh from completing a German league and cup double and having won their last 18 games in a row.
In Robert Lewandowski they have Europe’s most fearsome striker — he has scored 53 goals this season, including 13 in the Champions League, more than anyone else.
Barcelona of course have Lionel Messi, whose own tally of 31 goals is not bad.
The Argentine is 33 now yet still the best player on the planet. But questions remain about the quality of those around him, and coach Quique Setien is under huge pressure after the Catalans lost out to Real Madrid for the Spanish title.
Man City v Lyon -(Estadio Jose Alvalade, Saturday 1900 GMT)
Pep Guardiola is looking to end a near decade-long wait for another Champions League title after getting the better of Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid last week.
City’s best performance in the competition remains a run to the semi-finals in 2016, but the Premier League side are among the chief contenders to lift the trophy on August 23.
City will be well aware of the dangers posed by Lyon, who took four points off them in last season’s group stage. Striker Sergio Aguero is unlikely to play again this term due to a knee injury although Gabriel Jesus has scored five times in his past seven games in the Argentine’s absence.
Lyon are pinning their hopes of returning to Europe next season on winning the Champions League after a miserable and truncated domestic campaign in which they ended seventh.
However, the long lay-off has allowed key man Memphis Depay to return from a torn cruciate knee ligament, and it was his penalty that saw Lyon eliminate Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus on away goals.