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Champions League: How have Man United and Co fared so far?


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With the first legs of the Champions League last-16 stage now complete, it is not out of the question to think all five Premier League clubs could make the quarter-finals.

Manchester City and Liverpool have all but sealed their spots in the draw for the last eight, while Tottenham and Manchester United will fancy their chances. Chelsea face a tough test against Barcelona, but proved they can match them at Stamford Bridge.

So, can one of England’s elite really go all the way to Kiev and lift the trophy in May? Here, Sportsmail answers the key questions for each top-flight club ahead of their second legs.

David de Gea gives a thumbs up to Manchester United’s fans after their draw against Sevilla

CHELSEA (First leg: Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona)

What do they need to do in their second leg?

After Lionel Messi cancelled out Willian’s strike at Stamford Bridge with a crucial away goal, Antonio Conte’s men know they must score at the Nou Camp to stand any chance of going through. 

Balancing attacking intent and defensive solidity will be the challenge in Spain. 

How impressive have they been in the Champions League?

It’s been a mixed European campaign for the Blues. They earned a fine away win over Atletico Madrid in the group stage but were then easily beaten 3-0 in the Stadio Olimpico against Roma.

Finishing second in Group C resulted in their tough draw against Barca, but they will take heart from an excellent display in the first leg against Ernesto Valverde’s side. 

Willian opened the scoring for Chelsea during their 1-1 draw with Barcelona on Tuesday night

Willian opened the scoring for Chelsea during their 1-1 draw with Barcelona on Tuesday night

Are the genuine contenders for the trophy?

Yes. Chelsea have overcome the odds at the Nou Camp before and if Conte can lay on another tactical masterclass, they will take some beating despite their erratic domestic form.

What Champions League pedigree do they have?

Plenty. Conte won the competition as a player with Juventus, while Gary Cahill and David Luiz helped Chelsea lift their only Champions League trophy in 2012. Alvaro Morata (twice) and Pedro (three times) also have winners’ medals.

What is the biggest thing in their favour? 

Conte desire to finish his brief career at Stamford Bridge on a high. The Italian is expected to be replaced by Luis Enrique this summer, but he can cement his legacy with a European Cup. He also has the tactical know-how to excel in two-legged ties. 

Antonio Conte is desperate to win the Champions League before he leaves Stamford Bridge

Antonio Conte is desperate to win the Champions League before he leaves Stamford Bridge

LIVERPOOL (First leg: Porto 0-5 Liverpool)

What do they need to do in their second leg?

Just turn up. Jurgen Klopp’s men ran riot during the first leg, putting five past Porto to all but seal their place in the quarter-finals.

Even a distinctly average performance at Anfield will be enough to ensure they reach the last eight. 

How impressive have they been in the Champions League?

After starting the group stage with consecutive draws against Sevilla and Spartak Moscow, Liverpool burst into life with a 7-0 thrashing of Maribor.

They remain unbeaten despite throwing away a three-goal lead at Sevilla, having scored 10 goal in victories over Maribor and Spartak. Their dismantling of Porto, however, was their best display of the campaign so far.

Sadio Mane hit a hat-trick as Liverpool brushed aside Porto in their last-16 first leg in Portugal

Sadio Mane hit a hat-trick as Liverpool brushed aside Porto in their last-16 first leg in Portugal

Are the genuine contenders for the trophy?

Yes. Despite some frustrating performances in the Premier League, Klopp’s men have the attacking thrust to cause any side in Europe problems.

What Champions League pedigree do they have?

Liverpool do not have a single Champions League winner in their squad, but Klopp has experience of the final after leading Borussia Dortmund to Wembley in 2013. Unfortunately for him, Arjen Robben’s late strike meant Bayern Munich lifted the trophy in London.

What is the biggest thing in their favour? 

The form of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Liverpool may still concede goals, but they are almost guaranteed to score them too. 

Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino (left to right) have been in incredible form

Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino (left to right) have been in incredible form

MANCHESTER CITY (First leg: Basle 0-4 Manchester City)

What do they need to do in their second leg?

Like Liverpool, City are virtually assured of their place in UEFA’s quarter-final draw after a dominant display in Switzerland last week.

Pep Guardiola can afford to rotate when Basle visit the Etihad, especially when you consider his side’s almost perfect home record this season.

How impressive have they been in the Champions League?

Very. Five straight wins in the group stage – including home and away victories over Serie A high-flyers Napoli – meant they qualified with ease and could afford not to worry about a 2-1 defeat at Shakhtar Donestk on the final matchday.

Their 4-0 triumph in the first leg against Basle was up there with their performance in Naples in early November, too.  

Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva (L-R) celebrate a goal against Basle

Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva (L-R) celebrate a goal against Basle

Are the genuine contenders for the trophy?

Definitely. City have been the most impressive side in Europe this term and have found it easy to transfer their domestic form onto the continent.

What Champions League pedigree do they have?

Lots. Guardiola won the European Cup as a player with Barcelona and twice as manager of the Spanish giants. 

Claudio Bravo, Danilo (twice), Yaya Toure have lifted the trophy in recent years, while Ilkay Gundogan reached the final with Dortmund in 2013.  

What is the biggest thing in their favour? 

The manager. As much as City’s players have impressed this season, Guardiola has been there and done it in the Champions League. Twice.

The incredible form of Kevin De Bruyne could also prove pivotal in those fiercely contested latter rounds. 

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola won the Champions League twice at Barcelona

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola won the Champions League twice at Barcelona

MANCHESTER UNITED (First leg: Sevilla 0-0 Manchester United)

What do they need to do in their second leg?

United must score to avoid extra-time and potentially penalties, but even more important is to ensure Sevilla do not grab a vital away goal.

Jose Mourinho is known for being cautious away from home, but he will need to be positive when the Spanish side visit Old Trafford.  

How impressive have they been in the Champions League?

Five wins and three clean sheets in the group stage was a very solid return for a side who played in the Europa League last season.

However, a defeat in Basle and Wednesday night’s less-than-inspiring stalemate in Spain mean there is plenty of room for improvement for Mourinho and his side. 

Are the genuine contenders for the trophy?

Yes. Should they dispatch Sevilla, United will fancy their chances against anyone over two legs, particularly given Mourinho’s nous when it comes to negotiating tough away fixtures. 

What Champions League pedigree do they have?

Not as much as you might think. Mourinho lifted the trophy with Porto and Inter Milan, but only Juan Mata and Michael Carrick – with United in 2008 – have won the Champions League as players.

Antonio Valencia played in United’s 2011 final defeat by Barcelona at Wembley, while Chris Smalling was on the bench that day. 

What is the biggest thing in their favour? 

David de Gea. The Spanish stopper proved his class with a remarkable save against Sevilla and is arguably the world’s best goalkeeper at present. United can rely on him, even when others may not be at their best. 

TOTTENHAM (First leg: Juventus 2-2 Tottenham)

What do they need to do in their second leg?

A special comeback in Turin means Spurs have the upper hand going into the second leg of this tie, having scored two away goals to earn an unlikely draw.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men need to keep it tight at Wembley and make the most of the opportunities that come their way. 

How impressive have they been in the Champions League?

Almost perfect. Home and away wins over Borussia Dortmund and APOEL in the group stage, plus a victory against Real Madrid and draw in the Bernabeu meant Harry Kane and Co qualified top of H.

And after a nightmare start against Juventus last week, Tottenham proved they have the character and quality to battle their way out of the most difficult positions. 

Are the genuine contenders for the trophy?

Yes. However unlikely it may seem, Tottenham’s performances against holders Real Madrid showed they can mix it with the big boys. They should be taken seriously. 

What Champions League pedigree do they have?

Spurs are the only English side without a Champions League winner in their ranks, although Fernando Llorente did reach the 2015 final with Juventus.

What is the biggest thing in their favour? 

Harry Kane. The England man has been in sensational form this season and is already up there with Europe’s most prolific strikers. He’ll fancy his chances of dumping out Juve – and firing Spurs into the semi-finals. 

 

 

 

 



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