Barca sharpen knives for night of mas­sive Europe fix­tures

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

Paris Saint Ger­main (FRA) vs Basel (SUI) As coach of Sevilla last sea­son, Unai Emery beat Basel on the way to win­ning the Europa League. Now he hosts them, lead­ing French cham­pi­ons Paris Sain­tGer­main in a con­fi­dent mood thanks to Uruguayan striker Edin­son Ca­vani, en­joy­ing a streak of 15 goals in his last 11 games, and Brazil­ian play­maker Lu­cas, who also scored over the week­end. Basel’s Ice­land mid­fielder Birkir Bjar­na­son scored in his last match in Paris, a 5-2 de­feat at the Stade de France against France in the Euro 2016 quar­ter-fi­nals. The Swiss cham­pi­ons warmed up with a 3-0 win over Luzern and will be wel­com­ing back a well-rested squad.

Arse­nal (ENG) vs Lu­do­gorets Raz­grad (BUL) Arse­nal look set to con­tinue their un­beaten Cham­pi­ons League start host­ing Bul­gar­ian out­fit Lu­do­gorets Raz­grad. The Gun­ners were un­for­tu­nate not to win in Paris be­fore striker Theo Wal­cott scored a brace to beat Basel. Wal­cott scored twice again this week­end as a gritty Arse­nal dug in for a 10-man, 3-2 win over Swansea that saw them level with Man City at the top of the Premier League. One note of cau­tion for the hosts: Lu­do­gorets shot to the lead in both their games, a 1-1 draw with the Swiss and a 3-1 home de­feat by PSG. The Bul­gar­ian cham­pi­ons are also on a hot seven-game un­beaten run away from home.

Napoli (ITA) vs Be­sik­tas (TUR) Napoli will be­come the first team to qual­ify for the last-16 if they notch their third-straight win and Dy­namo Kiev draw with Ben­fica. A su­perb open­ing 4-2 win over Ben­fica fol­lowed by a 2-1 over Dy­namo left coach Mau­r­izio Sarri’s side coast­ing to­ward the knock­out stages. But the Serie A side lost to Roma on Oc­to­ber 15, leav­ing them seven points be­hind league lead­ers Ju­ven­tus, and re­place­ment striker Arkaduisz Mi­lik, who has scored three goals in the com­pe­ti­tion, is out for months with a knee in­jury. Be­sik­tas, back in the com­pe­ti­tion for the first time since 2009-10, en­ter buoyed by a 1-0 win at Kay­serispor in their best do­mes­tic start in five sea­sons.

Dy­namo Kiev (UKR) vs Ben­fica (POR) Both sides are search­ing for a cru­cial first win to avoid be­ing bounced from the tour­na­ment. Dy­namo’s Ser­hiy Sy­dorchuk will re­turn af­ter a one­match ban due to his dis­missal in a 2-1 loss to Napoli. They host Ben­fica on the back of a week­end 1-1 draw at FC Chornomorets Odesa to leave the reign­ing cham­pi­ons six points back in the Ukrainian Premier League. Ben­fica’s 4-2 loss to Napoli, mean­while, was their only de­feat in their last 20 matches in all com­pe­ti­tions.

Barcelona (ESP) vs Manch­ester City (ENG) Pep Guardi­ola’s re­turn to Barcelona, the club where he won the Cham­pi­ons League as both player and coach (twice) makes this game the match-up of the sea­son so far. Barcelona have won 12-straight Cham­pi­ons League games at home and Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ney­mar are all primed to play. Cru­cially City play­mak­ers Kevin de Bruyne and Ser­gio Aguero will also be at full fit­ness af­ter two draws and a de­feat in their last three games. Gerard Pique, in the news this week for his con­tro­ver­sial role in Spain’s out­fit and his am­bi­tions to be Barcelona pres­i­dent, has also scored three goals in the last three games.

Celtic (SCO) vs Borus­sia Moenchenglad­bach (GER) Celtic’s rau­cous fans car­ried the Hoops to a wild 3-3 draw with Pep Guardi­ola’s Man City last time and will be a bank­able as­set against Ger­many’s Borus­sia Moenchenglad­bach. They’ll need to be, as Celtic are tra­di­tion­ally beaten by Ger­man op­po­nents, but striker Moussa Dem­bele has 15 goals in his last 17 games. An­dré Schu­bert’s charges, mean­while, come to Celtic Park in des­per­ate need of a win af­ter de­feats against City and Barcelona and af­ter miss­ing two penal­ties in a 0-0 draw with Ham­burg on Oc­to­ber 15.

Ros­tov (RUS) vs Atletico Madrid (ESP) Rus­sia’s Ros­tov are seek­ing to build on their plucky home 2-2 draw against PSV af­ter an open­ing 5-0 thump­ing by Bay­ern Mu­nich. Ros­tov will also be hop­ing for no re­peat of the ba­nanathrow­ing in­ci­dent that marred the PSV stalemate. They were beaten by Spar­tak Moscow in the do­mes­tic league on Oc­to­ber 15 with red cards dished out to two of their play­ers. But last sea­son’s fi­nal­ists Atletico are trav­el­ling to Rus­sia in con­fi­dent mood com­ing off a 1-0 de­feat of Bay­ern Mu­nich and a 7-1 hum­bling of Granada in La Liga.

Bay­ern Mu­nich (GER) vs PSV Eind­hoven (NED) Bay­ern host PSV with Carlo Ancelotti slam­ming their “bad at­ti­tude” in a 2-2 draw with Ein­tra­cht Frankfurt on Oc­to­ber 15 and club chair Karl-Heinz Rum­menigge de­scrib­ing the per­for­mance as “un­ac­cept­able”. They need a win to steady the ship af­ter a loss to Atletico Madrid left them in sec­ond in the group and three points back, but a vic­tory would be their first in the last four out­ings, and they are al­ready with­out Franck Ribery with a leg in­jury. –

Photo: AFP

Barcelona de­fender Jeremy Mathieu (left) gets a header over De­portivo for­ward Florin An­done dur­ing a Spanish league match on Oc­to­ber 15. Barcelona won 4-0.

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