5️⃣ big questions ahead of this week's Champions League action | OneFootball

5️⃣ big questions ahead of this week's Champions League action | OneFootball

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OneFootball

Dan Burke·5 March 2024

5️⃣ big questions ahead of this week's Champions League action

Article image:5️⃣ big questions ahead of this week's Champions League action

The second legs of the Champions League round of 16 ties are coming our way this week, and there is plenty to be decided.

Here are the five biggest questions ahead of the action.


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Can Tuchel's Bayern salvage their season?

Article image:5️⃣ big questions ahead of this week's Champions League action

Harry Kane's move to Bayern Munich last summer looked destined to be a match made in heaven for both parties.

Kane would surely get his hands on some long-awaited silverware, and Bayern were getting a prolific striker who would not only enable them to maintain their domestic dominance, but potentially deliver the Champions League to Munich too.

But while Kane has held up his end of the bargain with 31 goals in 32 games since joining the club, it has so far been a pretty disastrous season by Bayern's standards, and the weekend's results leave them 10 points behind Bayer Leverkusen in the race for the Bundesliga title.

The Champions League now appears to represent their only hope of some salvation this season, and they will have to do it the hard way after losing 1-0 away in the first leg of their round of 16 tie with Lazio.

Bayern have only failed to make the quarter-finals once in the last 12 seasons, and are unbeaten in their last 13 home Champions League matches, while Lazio are aiming to make the last eight for the first time in 24 years.

Thomas Tuchel is already leaving the Bavarian giants at the end of the season and if his team can't turn this one around, his departure could well come a bit sooner than planned.


Is Mbappé's relationship with PSG irreparably broken?

Article image:5️⃣ big questions ahead of this week's Champions League action

Another European giant in a far-from-ideal situation at the moment are Paris Saint-Germain.

Yes they are nine points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table, and yes they hold a 2-0 advantage over Champions League round of 16 opponents Real Sociedad, but it's a power struggle taking place off the pitch which threatens to derail their season.

Kylian Mbappé will be leaving the club in the summer with his next destination likely to be Real Madrid, and the Frenchman could yet say au revoir to Paris in the perfect way by lifting the Champions League at the end of the season.

However, with his side drawing 0-0 at half-time with Monaco in Ligue 1 on Friday night, Luis Enrique made the surprise decision to substitute Mbappé, with the striker then watching the second half with his family and entourage from the stands.

The coach explained afterwards that it was "100%" his decision to take Mbappé off, adding: "Sooner or later we will have to get used to playing without Kylian." Talks between the pair were understood to have then taken place on Sunday, where the hatchet was buried.

But with reports on Monday suggesting president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is "furious" with Mbappé's "betrayal" of the club, it will be interesting to see whether all is well behind the scenes when Les Parisiens travel to face Real Sociedad on Tuesday.

Wouldn't a shock exit from a position of strength be just typical of PSG when it comes to the Champions League?


Can San Sebastián come to La Real's aid?

Article image:5️⃣ big questions ahead of this week's Champions League action

If there is to be a turnaround in that tie, it's going to need a big performance from Real Sociedad, and they're going to need their home fans right behind them.

Only Real Madrid, Barcelona and Girona have a better home record than La Real in LaLiga this season, and they were also unbeaten in their three home fixtures in the Champions League group stage.

The Basque club's supporters have been known to make things difficult for visiting sides by creating a hostile cauldron atmosphere at San Sebastián, and they're going to have to do the same again when PSG come to town on Tuesday.

At 2-0 the tie is far from over, and La Real coach Imanol might well look at Newcastle's 4-1 victory over PSG in the group stage as an example of what is possible with the 12th man behind you.


Do Leipzig still have a chance of upsetting Real Madrid?

Article image:5️⃣ big questions ahead of this week's Champions League action

How Real Madrid emerged not just victorious but with a clean sheet to boot from their first leg with RB Leipzig is anybody's guess.

The Bundesliga side peppered the Los Blancos goal, with goalkeeper Andriy Lunin forced to make nine saves, and Leipzig striker Benjamin Šeško taking six shots without scoring on the night.

In the end, it was a moment of quality from Brahim Díaz which gave Madrid a slender 1-0 lead in the tie, and the 14-time European champions will fancy their chances of finishing the job at the Bernabéu, especially with Jude Bellingham now back fit.

Leipzig found themselves in a similar situation this time last year, when they held Manchester City to a 1-1 draw in the first leg, only to lose 7-0 away from home in the second.

Coach Marco Rose will try to set up his team to avoid a repeat of that this time around, but they will have to take the game to the hosts, and their inability to score in the first leg could ultimately prove costly.


Are Manchester City home and dry?

Article image:5️⃣ big questions ahead of this week's Champions League action

It was man of the moment Phil Foden who netted in injury time to make it 3-1 to Manchester City in Copenhagen three weeks ago.

City had largely been dominant on the night, but Magnus Mattsson's goal kept the Danish underdogs within touching distance of the reigning European champions.

But that late Foden clincher may well have given Pep Guardiola's side the breathing space they need to book their spot in the quarter-final, and with the second leg sandwiched between the Manchester derby and next Sunday's trip to Anfield, Guardiola will hope for a drama-free evening at the Etihad on Wednesday.

It's an obvious thing to say but the first goal here, if there is one, will be crucial. Should Copenhagen get it then it could make for a nervy night in Manchester, but if City open the scoring the tie is pretty much dead and buried.

And if City do win, they will become only the third side (after Real Madrid in 2015 and Bayern Munich in 2013 and 2020) to win 10+ consecutive Champions League matches.