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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 22 November, 2019

4 talking points ahead of this week's Champions League games

Manchester City and Arsenal will have to make up for first leg defeats if they are to remain in this year’s competition.

Yaya Toure facing current team-mate Bakary Sagna (then of Arsenal)
Yaya Toure facing current team-mate Bakary Sagna (then of Arsenal)
Image: AP/Press Association Images

1. Tough task for City

MANCHESTER CITY TRAVEL to Catalonia hoping to overturn a 2-1 first leg result at the Camp Nou. Luis Suarez’s double two weeks ago means the Premier League champions have it all to do but it could have been a lot worse as Sergio Aguero halved the deficit in the second half before Lionel Messi fluffed his late penalty and headed the follow-up chance wide.

Confidence is likely to be low after Manuel Pellegrini’s side slipped up against Burnley over the weekend to allow Chelsea to open up a six-point lead at the top of the Premier League table. Barca, meanwhile, remain one point ahead of rivals Real Madrid thanks to two goals from Messi — who took his tally for the season to 43.

City midfielder Yaya Toure returns from a three-game suspension to line out against the club he won this competition with in 2009 during his three-year spell in Spain.

2. Wenger back in the principality

The Arsenal manager takes his current club to Monaco knowing a performance similar to the first leg and they are heading out of Europe at the round of 16 for the sixth successive year.

Wenger, who spent seven years in the principality between 1987-1994, questioned the Gunners’ mental strength after some “suicidal defending” saw them lose 3-1 at the Emirates with Spurs old boy Dimitar Berbatov, Geoffrey Kondogbia and substitute Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco on target for the away side.

Arsenal need at least three goals to progress but the Frenchman believes it is achievable. “We are in a position where Monaco are favourites,” he said this week. “We can go there and create something special. I believe we will have the desire to do it.”

Soccer Wenger during his Monaco days. Source: EMPICS Sport

3. Juve hold slender lead

In a repeat of the 1997 final, Borussia Dortmund host Juventus at the Westfalenstadion on Wednesday.

A fortnight ago, Marco Reus capitalised on Giorgio Chiellini’s slip to open the scoring for the German side before Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata hit back to earn a narrow win. Juve will be kicking themselves, however, as they spurned a number of second half chances to increase their advantage.

Dortmund, up to tenth in the Bundesliga table after flirting with relegation earlier in the season, could only manage a 0-0 draw against Cologne on Saturday while Serie A leaders moved 14 points clear with a 1-0 victory away to Palermo.

4. Atleti have work to do

Bayer Levekusen arrive in the Spanish capital in good form with the aim of holding onto a narrow lead against last year’s runners-up Atletico Madrid.

Hakan Çalhanoğlu’s superb strike was enough to earn the German’s a 1-0 win in their home leg but Atleti will still be confident of progressing as they have won 20 of their last 22 European matches at the Vicente Calderon. That said, they have only scored one goal in their last four outings.

“It is true we are finding it hard to score, but more worrying would be to not have any chances,” said manager Diego Simeone. “I am happy with their work. Now it is time to regroup, to wait for Tuesday’s game, and to keep working. That is the only path we know.”

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5 talking points from Saturday and Sunday’s Premier League action

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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