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

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Emily Wilson·28 November 2023

5️⃣ big questions ahead of Tuesday's Champions League action

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

We’re back with more Champions League action on Tuesday as teams across Europe hope to move one step closer to the knockouts.

Here are the five biggest questions ahead of tonight’s action.

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Can Barcelona find their confidence?

You might not have guessed it from Barcelona’s initial start to the 2023/24 season (13 games unbeaten), but as coach Xavi has suggested, the players are perhaps lacking in confidence.

The Spanish giants will host Porto on Tuesday, hoping to claim top spot in Group H but with Shakhtar Donetsk breathing down their neck only three points behind, any slip-up could see their potential round of 16 qualification go down to the final game.

“We need to get back to our best,” said the Barcelona coach during his pre-match press conference. “We aren’t pressing well enough, we aren’t concentrating well enough. The players need to step up.”

The pressure also falls on Xavi’s shoulders. An earlier loss to Shakhtar Donetsk and slips against Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano in LaLiga reportedly see his job on the line – something out of the question at the start of the season.

Fortunately for the hosts, they have never lost a home game against Portuguese opposition in the European Cup/Champions League (seven wins, two draws). Barcelona’s current home record is also strong, winning eight of their nine games this season.

A much-needed victory would briefly alleviate fears and help the club reach the competition knockouts for the first time since 2021. The question is, do they genuinely believe in themselves?

Will high-flying Atleti maintain dark horse title?

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

In contrast to Barcelona, another team from Spain is making headlines for all the right reasons. In the Champions League and LaLiga, Diego Simeone’s current Atlético de Madrid squad are taking on the Dark Horse tag.

Up next for Los Rojiblancos is a trip away to Feyenoord, which will no doubt lead to fireworks after a thrilling 3-2 result in Madrid. Atleti’s dynamic duo could again prove to be the difference this time around.

Across Europe’s top five leagues, Diego Simeone’s side are the only ones with two different players on 10 or more goals already – Antoine Griezmann (11) and Álvaro Morata (12).

However, Feyenoord’s stars are also hitting top form at the right time. Calvin Stengs and Mats Wieffer made history by becoming the first Feyenoord duo to score in a game for the Dutch national team in over 25 years and it doesn’t stop there.

Stengs went on to register a hat-trick that game while Santiago Giménez also registered one in their last Eredivisie match against Excelsior. Beating the current Group E leaders would propel Feyenoord to the top and turn this group on its head.

Yet their form suggests Atleti are a side opponents should be wary of in Spain and across Europe. They have one loss from 13 across all competitions and have never lost in the Champions League away to a Dutch side (two wins, two draws and three clean sheets).

Clinching a spot in the round of 16 in Rotterdam could strengthen the idea that they might finally go all the way this season.

Can claiming top spot help Man City rebound?

Winning a treble can understandably take a toll but Pep Guardiola will surely want his current Manchester City side to start performing slightly better than they have been.

The holders have already qualified for the Champions League knockout rounds but top spot in Group G is still up for grabs against second-place RB Leipzig. However, the Premier League giants are coming off back-to-back draws against Chelsea and Liverpool.

Injuries have been one reason behind their slow(ish) start to the season. An early blow to Kevin de Bruyne has him out until January, while Jack Grealish, Mateo Kovačić and Matheus Nunes are all set to be out against RB Leipzig.

Guardiola will want his City side to reach into the past and pull out a performance that mirrors their 7-0 win against the Bundesliga side. As RB Leipzig coach Marco Rose admitted ahead of Tuesday’s clash, that thrashing still haunts his team.

“It knocked us down. We haven’t spoken about it but it was not a good feeling after the game,” he said ahead of kick-off. “We want to do better for sure. We want to compete with one of the best teams in the world. We want to show that we can make it better, that we are better.”

Given their 4-1 win away from home last time out, it might not necessarily be the most formidable challenge ahead, even with some big names out but another statement win could be the result they need to breathe life into their once excessively-dominant personality.

Why do we not talk about BVB more?

When the draw revealed Borussia Dortmund were up against Paris Saint-Germain, Milan and Newcastle in this year’s Group of Death, the German side didn’t feature in the leading discussions.

However, Edin Terzić’s side have proved everyone wrong so far and sit top of the bunch heading into matchday five after back-to-back wins against Newcastle. Qualifying for the knockouts is directly in their control, and they have not conceded in any of their last three group-stage fixtures.

Of course, it’s still going to be a massive test inside what’s expected to be a rocking San Siro. Milan’s struggling form across all competitions, however, leaves the door open for BVB to record a second stunning result against the Italian giants, who have the second most titles in competition history.

This season can so far be described as turbulent for Stefano Pioli’s men with just two wins from seven across all competitions and while they’re not out of the running, they don’t look too convincing either.

In the Champions League, specifically, Milan struggle in front of goal with the second-lowest amount of goals (two, one more than Benfica). However, history might be in their favour this time around as they only have one loss against German opposition in Europe in their last 16 home matches (11 wins and four draws)

Interestingly enough, it was against Borussia Dortmund in 2002/03.

Will PSG crumble under the spotlight?

We all love the Champions League for the sensational storylines it provides, and Paris Saint-Germain have been treating us to exactly that this season.

The French giants were expected to take control of the Group of Death but instead lost two of their last three group games. That’s as many as in their previous 18.

Group F is only separated by three points, leaving all four teams in the mix to reach the knockouts but the spotlight shines brighter on PSG rather than Newcastle, and the pressure is hot.

Following an historic 4-1 win at St James’ Park, the Magpies arrive at the Parc des Princes with a target on their back.

Callum Wilson, Dan Burn, Sven Botman, Matt Targett and the banned Sandro Tonali are some of the names out meanwhile PSG see Warren Zaïre-Emery and Marquinhos out through injury as well.

A win in Paris would be massive for the visitors and go down in their own Champions League folklore. History shows PSG struggle against English opponents, losing six of their last eight games.

But it would be an even bigger narrative if Luis Enrique’s side suffered another stumble in their hopes of lifting the trophy they desperately crave.