Le­ices­ter among sides with last 16 in sight

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

AFP Sports looks ahead in to­day’s Cham­pi­ons League ac­tion with reign­ing cham­pi­ons Real Madrid, Ju­ven­tus, Borus­sia Dort­mund and debu­tants Le­ices­ter City all look­ing to clinch places in the last 16 with two games to spare.

Monaco top the group and re­main un­beaten, so a win at home to the Rus­sian cham­pi­ons will all but se­cure their place in the last 16. Leonardo Jardim’s side, who snatched a draw in Mos­cow last time out thanks to Bernardo Silva’s late equaliser, come into the game sit­ting in sec­ond place in Ligue 1. They are also the most pro­lific side in any of Europe’s lead­ing leagues along with Barcelona, with both teams hav­ing net­ted 30 goals so far. That is de­spite Monaco hav­ing loaned gi­ant Ivo­rian striker Lacina Traore to CSKA-he scored for the Rus­sians in the re­verse fix­ture. CSKA could be on the brink of elim­i­na­tion if they lose and form is not on their side. They have won just one of their last eight matches in all com­pe­ti­tions and have been beaten eight times in their last nine away group games in the Cham­pi­ons League. Mean­while, their goal­keeper Igor Ak­in­feev is look­ing to end a run of 40 con­sec­u­tive Cham­pi­ons League games with­out keep­ing a clean sheet. CSKA are with­out the sus­pended Ro­man Ere­menko, while Alan Dza­goev is a doubt. Borus­sia Dort­mund also win. Zine­dine Zi­dane’s men warmed up for this game with a 4-1 win at Alaves in which Cris­tiano Ronaldo bagged a hat-trick. They are top of La Liga, un­beaten in 15 games this sea­son and have scored 24 times in their last five matches. Ronaldo, mean­while, is just two goals away from reach­ing a cen­tury in Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion. Pepe is out, but it is set to be a daunt­ing task for Le­gia, who are cur­rently sixth in their do­mes­tic league.

The Le­ices­ter City fairy­tale can reach the Cham­pi­ons League knock­out phase if the shock English cham­pi­ons get a re­sult at Copen­hagen, who have four points so far. One of only three teams in the com­pe­ti­tion on full points from the open­ing three games, the feel­ing is that coach Clau­dio Ranieri is fo­cus­ing on Europe. A win in Den­mark will se­cure a place in the last 16, and they warmed up with a 1-1 draw at Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur at the week­end. They travel to Den­mark with their Dan­ish in­ter­na­tional goal­keeper Kasper Sch­me­ichel in ex­cep­tional form. Copen­hagen, who had gone 23 games with­out de­feat be­fore los­ing 1-0 in the re­verse fix­ture, come into the match still un­beaten do­mes­ti­cally and six points clear at the top of their league.

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