The knockout round begins for the 2016-17 Champions League with the regulars the favorites to advance. Trying to disrupt the super clubs is the regular story in February. The big stories are the ones that match super clubs with sort of super clubs. Can PSG knockout Barcelona? Will Arsenal put it together against Bayern Munich amid whatever rumor you'd like to believe about manager Arsene Wenger's future?
"Yes, we've had bad experiences against them," Wenger said. “But I feel that this is a good opportunity. We have won there before and we play the first game away from home, so it’s important we protect the second game because I feel that to have a chance to qualify in the second leg, that will be very important. We go there not high, but to defend well as a team."
Defense is likely going to be the hallmark of a few teams that know it's going to be more than just doing what they do to get to the quarterfinals. Leicester City is facing Europa League winners Sevilla in what's one of the odder scenarios for the Champions League.
“It’s difficult to say it’s mental," Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri said following the 2-0 loss at Swansea City. "When I speak to them (the players) everybody wants to react and do something positive to help each other. I believe in my team. We must continue to fight and sooner or later we will get out of this. When I speak with the players and they speak with me, we are always confident we can change the situation. Now, there are two matches. One in the FA Cup and Champions League. Our mind is on the Premier League, not the FA Cup or Champions League."
In the soccer news, The Guardian's Jonathan Wilson works through the issues with Leicester City's star players that are having a tough season in the Premier League. ESPN FC's Ben Jacobs looks at the relegation threat facing Leicester City. The Independent's Miguel Delaney looks at how Arsenal is dealing with Mesut Ozil's form.
The LA Times' Kevin Baxter profiles USMNT assistant coach Dave Sarachan. The NY Times' Simon Austin has US Soccer hiring a performance expert from the Premier League. In an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jonathan Tannenwald, Philadelphia Union sporting director Earnie Stewart makes the case for the uniqueness of American soccer. Goal.com's Jon Arnold is impressed with Chivas in Liga MX.
Bundesliga Fanatic's Mathew Burt on RB Leipzig finally losing at home in the Bundesliga. World Soccer on the immediate future for Steaua Bucharest. Keir Radnedge has another FIFA official making it clear that the public comments made by technical director Marco van Basten were "personal opinions".
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