Monday’s soccer news starts with UEFA’s Champions League back in action on Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s the first set of the round of 16 phase of the competition, with all four series starting this week involving USMNT players.
Tyler Adams’s RB Leipzig sort of hosts Liverpool on Tuesday, with that game moved to Budapest over pandemic restrictions. Giving up true home field advantage is an issue, even without fans in attendance. Leipzig is 2nd in the Bundesliga, currently on a three-game winning streak.
“Our team spirit is what makes us stand out at the moment,” Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann said last week. “We bring aggression both on and off the ball. We are very hungry to score, but we also have a determination and desire to avoid conceding. We also have the right balance of attacking players and defensive players. And I’m extremely pleased with the team’s mentality towards keeping clean sheets at all costs. Narrow 1-0 victories are very important for us as a team.”
It’s not a similar situation for Liverpool. The Premier League champions have fallen off noticeably, with manager Jurgen Klopp saying there won’t be a title defense this season. That’s what being in 4th-place with a 14-point gap can do. Liverpool is on a three-game losing streak, dropping a 3-1 decision at Leicester City on Saturday.
Sergino Dest and Konrad de la Fuente’s Barcelona are at home to PSG, the obvious highlight game of the round. 3rd in La Liga, they’re eight-points off the lead and out of the Copa del Rey following a mid-week loss at Sevilla. A 5-1 home win over relegation-threatened Alaves on Saturday saw Francisco Trincao and Lionel Messi each scored twice. After December’s coaching change, PSG is in 2nd-place a point out of 1st. They beat Nice 2-1 at home on Saturday.
On Wednesday, Weston McKennie’s Juventus is at Porto with Juve trying to shake off a 1-0 loss at Napoli on Saturday. Juventus is in 4th-place in Serie A, eight points back. 2nd-place Porto is chasing Sporting in the Primeira Liga, drawing three games in a row. They finished 2-2 at home with Boavista on Saturday.
“When you’re playing so many games you lose a bit of sharpness but they all played well today,” Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said following the loss in Napoli. “Their goalkeeper was the best player out there and I have no complaints about my forwards. The defeats are damaging as we could find ourselves 10 points off the top tonight but we have to keep performing well and see where we are in March.”
Gio Reyna’s Borussia Dortmund opens the knockout round at Sevilla struggling in the Bundesliga in 6th-place. A loss at Freiburg and a draw at home with Hoffenheim. Sevilla is in
“We allowed them many counterattacks from long balls,” Dortmund coach Edin Terzic said after finishing 2-2 with Hoffenheim. We’re not happy about that. After the equalizer, there was enough time to score a winner. We didn’t manage that. To be fair, there were two chances for Hoffenheim to score a winner themselves in the final stages.”
The Guardian’s roundup of the Premier League weekend. The Telegraph’s Jason Burt interviews RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann. The Independent’s Andy Hampson on the back and forth over whether or not Liverpool is still in the title race. The LA Times’ Kevin Baxter talks to Chicharito Hernandez about needing more from his second season with the Galaxy.
⭐ The new #UCL final ball celebrates 20 years of the iconic ‘starball’ design.
⚽ It makes its debut in Tuesday night’s round of 16 matches! pic.twitter.com/5ESTqnVpY5
— UEFA (@UEFA) February 15, 2021
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Photo by Imago via ZUMA Press – ISIPhotos.com