PSG, BARCELONA ON VERGE OF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LAST 16
Big-spenders Paris Saint-Germain, five-time champion Barcelona and Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United are among the teams looking to book a Champions League last 16 place today
CHAMPIONS League match-day four begins today as Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Jose Manchester United are among the teams looking to book a Champions League last-16 place. In Group A, Jose Mourinho’s side can secure a place in the last 16 with two matches to spare with a win at Old Trafford, if Basel avoid defeat against CSKA Moscow. Benfica are likely heading towards an early exit after losing their first three group games and will be without veteran defender Luisao following his dismissal in the 1-0 defeat by United in Lisbon. Basel will clinch a spot in the knockout phase with a second straight win over CSKA Moscow, if Benfica fail to beat United. In Group B, Celtic faces a stiff test against Bayern Munich as it bid to keep its European adventure alive. A resurgent Bayern eased to a 3-0 win over the Scottish champions a fortnight ago, and a repeat success would all but end Celtic’s chances of reaching the knockout rounds. Paris Saint-Germain has cruised through its opening three fixtures - netting 12 goals with none conceded - and will be expected to again sweep aside Anderlecht at the Parc des Princes today. In Group C, Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid are still searching for their first win of the competition after a goalless draw in Azerbaijan a fortnight ago. They are in danger of missing out on the knockout stages for the first time since failing to qualify at all in 2012-13. Although Qarabag picked up their first Champions League point in Baku, Atletico will be expected to have little trouble in closing the gap on Chelsea and Roma, ahead of a home match against the Italians and a crucial visit to Stamford Bridge. Elsewhere, the winner of the clash between Rome and Chelsea at the Stadio Olimpico will be wellplaced to reach the last 16 with both teams still to play a game against struggling Qarabag. In Group D, Barcelona could secure a last-16 place today. A fourth straight group-stage win against Olympiacos would book a knock-out spot unless Sporting Lisbon beat Juventus. Ernesto Valverde’s men are on a 14-match unbeaten run in all competitions since losing both legs of the Spanish Super Cup to Real Madrid. The five-time European champions are flying high in Spain, having only dropped two points in their first 10 outings. Elsewhere in the Group D, Sporting and Juventus look set to be in a straight fight for second place in Group D behind Barcelona, with today’s match in Lisbon crucial after the Italians’ 2-1 win at Turin. PARIS / AFP
Barca talisman Lionel Messi is La Liga’s top-scorer so far with 12 goals and he has also netted three times in three Champions League outings. Neymar is set to return after serving a domestic one-match ban following his red card against Marseille.