5 talking points as clubs chase Champions League quarter-final spots

The first four teams advancing to the Champions League quarter-finals will be determined this week, with the second legs of half the last-16 ties being played on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Last year’s finalists Liverpool and Tottenham are among the eight sides in action.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the talking points surrounding this week’s games.

Testing times for Tottenham

Dele Alli's penalty earned Tottenham a point at Burnley (Bradley Collyer/PA).
Dele Alli’s penalty earned Tottenham a point at Burnley (Bradley Collyer/PA).

Tottenham head into Tuesday’s clash against RB Leipzig in Germany looking to return to winning ways after the 1-0 first-leg loss three weeks ago commenced a sequence of five matches without victory. Jose Mourinho’s men – missing injured duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min – did at least secure a 1-1 draw at Burnley on Saturday thanks to Dele Alli’s second-half penalty. Spurs are currently eighth in the Premier League while Julian Nagelsmann’s Leipzig are third in the Bundesliga.

Liverpool back on track?

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool had lost three out of four games before beating Bournemouth (Mike Egerton/PA).
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool had lost three out of four games before beating Bournemouth (Mike Egerton/PA).

Defending European champions Liverpool have also endured a slump in results of late that started with their 1-0 first-leg loss to Atletico Madrid, with Premier League and FA Cup defeats following in their next three outings. The Reds then bounced back with a 2-1 victory over Bournemouth at the weekend as they continued their march towards the Premier League title, and Jurgen Klopp’s men will be aiming to continue the revival by turning things around against Atletico at Anfield on Wednesday. Adrian is set to be in the Liverpool goal once again, with Alisson Becker still injured.

Two matches behind closed doors

The impact the coronavirus outbreak is having on football will be in clear evidence, with this week’s other two last-16 contests to take place behind closed doors in a bid to combat the spread of Covid-19. The decision with regard to Paris St Germain against Borussia Dortmund emerged on Monday, four days on from UEFA confirming the same would apply to Valencia’s home encounter with Atalanta. The sport’s European governing body has also followed the Premier League’s lead by banning pre-match handshakes at all UEFA matches until further notice. RB Leipzig on Monday confirmed their match against Tottenham was still set to go ahead as planned, with fans in the ground.

Haaland on fire

The PSG-Dortmund tie is a finely-poised affair, with the German side having claimed a 2-1 win in the first leg at Signal Iduna Park. Nineteen-year-old wonderkid Erling Braut Haaland continued his superb form in that match, netting both goals for the hosts either side of a Neymar effort. Haaland has scored 12 goals in 10 appearances since joining Dortmund in January and PSG boss Thomas Tuchel will be eager to try to keep the Norwegian in check on Wednesday as he looks to avoid an exit from the competition at the hands of his former club.

Atalanta catching the eye

Gian Piero Gasperini's Atalanta beat Valencia 4-1 in their first leg (Joe Giddens/PA).
Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta beat Valencia 4-1 in their first leg (Joe Giddens/PA).

The first leg of this tie was in keeping with what has been a remarkable debut Champions League campaign for Atalanta – a 4-1 win for the Italians, who managed to progress from their group despite failing to win any of their first four games. If the situation looks ominous for Valencia, Gian Piero Gasperini’s team triumphing 7-2 at Lecce in their sole match since the first leg has only added to that.

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