Soccer Champions League - Play-Offs 9 March 2023
Bayern Munich vs Paris SG - Match Preview
This UEFA Champions League (UCL) tie remains wide open after Bayern Munich’s 1-0 win in the first leg, but the equation is fairly simple for Julian Nagelsmann’s men, avoid defeat and the quarter-finals await. Confidence should be high heading into this clash as a pair of league wins ahead of this game kept them in pole position for an 11th consecutive Bundesliga crown, albeit by virtue of a slender goal difference advantage.
Bayern have been equally as impressive on the European stage this season, with an unblemished seven wins from as many UCL games this term representing their best showing at this stage since lifting the trophy back in 2019/20, when they defeated Paris Saint-Germain in the final! The Bavarian giants can’t rest on their laurels though, with a perfectly split H2H record against PSG (W6, L6) indicating this tie is far from over.
Christophe Galtier’s Parisians have responded in fine fashion since the first-leg defeat, scoring 11 times in three Ligue 1 games (W3) to pull eight points clear at the top. It was criminal charges against PSG and Morocco full-back Achraf Hakimi that dominated the headlines during the week, but with the club’s full backing, he will feature here given that the game is not on French soil.
PSG can certainly take heart from their impressive return of five progressions from six overall knockout ties against German opponents, but that perhaps doesn’t tell the full story of the size of the task that awaits them. Galtier’s men have been eliminated in four of their last six round of 16 ties and they’ve only ever come back from a first-leg deficit to progress once in 19 such UCL ties, although if it omens you’re looking for, that one-time was against German opposition in the shape of Borussia Dortmund in 2019/20.
📋 Players to watch: Bayern’s Thomas Müller became only the second player after Robert Lewandowski to make 300 Bundesliga goal contributions with an assist at the weekend (G141, A159). Without the services of Neymar, PSG’s attacking onus will likely fall upon Kylian Mbappé, who could become the first player to score in three consecutive UCL visits to the Allianz Arena with another goal here.
⚡ Hot stat: In UCL knockout ties, PSG went on to lose the second leg in each of the six prior occasions they lost the first leg at home.
Tottenham vs AC Milan - Match Preview
Tottenham have their work cut out if they’re to progress in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) quarter-finals as they trail AC Milan 1-0 on aggregate heading into the second-leg. It was by the same scoreline that Spurs fell to defeat in Premier League action at the weekend too, going down against relegation-battling Wolves and turning in a performance that left stand-in boss Cristian Stellini “angry”.
The return of full-time boss Antonio Conte after a medical absence should buoy Spurs as they seek to overturn a first-leg deficit for the third time in four such instances in European competition. Conte’s return could perhaps be the best omen of all for Spurs given the Italian boss has won five of his last six managerial home games against Milan in all competitions.
Milan suffered a similarly poor domestic result at the weekend, going down 2-1 against Fiorentina as they lost ground in the race for second in Serie A, with their away form much to blame for their failed title defence this season. That was a far from ideal warm-up ahead of this trip to North London, with five defeats from their last six two-legged knockout ties against English opposition threatening to wreak havoc on their chances of securing a first UCL quarter-final appearance in 11 years.
Further highlighting why they start this game as outsiders, they’ve also lost by an aggregate 9-1 score on their last three visits to the English capital in European competition! But if it’s historical omens they’re looking for to inspire them, then 37 wins out of 43 UEFA competition ties in which they won the first leg at home should give Stefano Pioli’s side some belief.
📋 Key battle: Harry Kane, Tottenham’s go-to man on the big occasion, has scored six goals in his last six UCL games at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and his last four club goals have been the game’s last. Aiming to marshall Tottenham’s all-time leading scorer is former Chelsea man Fikayo Tomori, who has been carded in three of his five UCL appearances this term.
⚡ Hot stat: Tottenham has conceded the first goal in five of their seven UCL games this season.
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