Leicester among sides with last 16 in sight
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.