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Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
EMPICS Sport Real Madrid's Marco Asensio and Thibault Moulin of Legia Warsaw.
# Talking Points
Current holders play behind closed doors and what to look out for in the Champions League tonight
Real Madrid, Leicester City, Tottenham, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus are all in action this evening.

1. No fans for visit of Real Madrid

INCIDENTS AT LEGIA WARSAW’S last home game, a 6-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund, means this meeting with the reigning champions will be played behind closed doors in the Polish capital.

Legia lost 5-1 in Madrid last time out and are yet to register a point in the group — another defeat here will eliminate them, while even a draw may not put off the inevitable.

Madrid, meanwhile, will be through with a win, provided Borussia Dortmund also win. Zinedine Zidane’s men warmed up for this game with a 4-1 win at Alaves in which Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a hat-trick.

They are top of La Liga, unbeaten in 15 games this season and have scored 24 times in their last five matches. Ronaldo, meanwhile, is just two goals away from reaching a century in European competition.

Pepe is out, but it is set to be a daunting task for Legia, who are currently sixth in their domestic league.

2. Foxes a win away from knockout stages

The Leicester City fairytale can reach the Champions League knockout phase if the shock English champions get a result at Copenhagen, who have four points so far.

One of only three teams in the competition on full points from the opening three games, the feeling is that coach Claudio Ranieri is focusing on Europe.

A win in Denmark will secure a place in the last 16, and they warmed up with a 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend.

They travel to Denmark with their Danish international goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel in exceptional form.

Copenhagen, who had gone 23 games without defeat before losing 1-0 in the reverse fixture, come into the match still unbeaten domestically and six points clear at the top of their league.

3. Spurs out to end winless run

Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham will be looking to end a five-game winless run when they entertain Leverkusen in a crucial contest at Wembley.

Bayer Leverkusen v Tottenham Hotspur - UEFA Champions League - Group E - BayArena Adam Davy Tottenham boss Pochettino. Adam Davy

Spurs have had four draws and one defeat in all competitions since beating Manchester City a month ago. That sequence includes a 0-0 draw in Germany two weeks ago, and Tottenham need at least the same again to keep qualification for the last 16 in their own hands.

They will also be looking for a maiden victory at Wembley after losing 2-1 to Monaco at England’s national stadium in their Group E opener.

Leverkusen have drawn all three group games so far and come into the match on the back of a 2-1 win at Wolfsburg at the weekend that ended their own run of four matches without a victory.

Harry Kane is on the sidelines for Spurs while Joel Pohjanpalo and Karim Bellarabi are absent for the visitors.

4. Dortmund going well in Europe

Dortmund have started strongly in Group F and will secure their place in the last 16 with a win at home to Sporting at the Signal Iduna Park.

Thomas Tuchel’s men were 2-1 winners when the teams met in Portugal recently and have lost just one of their last 11 matches.

However, they were held to a goalless draw by Schalke in the Ruhr derby at the weekend and sit only sixth in the Bundesliga. In addition, they have a long injury list with Marcel Schmelzer, Sven Bender, Marco Reus, Neven Subotic and Erik Durm all on the sidelines.

Sporting need a positive result to keep alive their chances of reaching the knockout phase for the first time since 2008/09 but they have had one draw and suffered 11 defeats on their 12 previous visits to Germany.

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Jorge Jesus’s men are also struggling for form – last Friday’s 0-0 draw at Nacional left them with only one win in five, a run that has seen them drop to fourth place. Captain Adrien is injured.

5. Juve’s excellent home record

The 2015 finalists Juventus will qualify for the next round with a win over their struggling French visitors.

Juve are unbeaten in their last 18 home matches in Europe and are fresh from beating Napoli 2-1 in Serie A at the weekend when Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain scored the winner against his old club and refused to celebrate.

France Soccer Champions League AP / Press Association Images Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (center) striker Gonzalo Higuain (left) and midfielder Miralem Pjanic (right), with Leonardo Bonucci in the background (far left). AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Paulo Dybala is absent for the hosts, who won 1-0 in Lyon two weeks ago.

Striker Alexandre Lacazette missed a penalty for the Ligue 1 side in that match but he has been back in goalscoring form, grabbing a brace in a 2-1 away win at high-flying Toulouse at the weekend.

After Gianluigi Buffon saved Lacazette’s penalty in the reverse fixture, Juventus had Mario Lemina sent off but beat Lyon thanks to Juan Cuadrado’s strike. Lyon will be out if they lose and Sevilla win.

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