Champions League preview: Liverpool set for Madrid match-up as Citizens clash with Leipzig
Four tantalising Champions League clashes lie in store over the coming days, after Europe’s elite competition returned for the Round of 16 last week.
Liverpool will get the chance to exact revenge on Real Madrid after losing last year’s final in Paris — when these two heavyweights meet, fireworks usually follow.
Eintracht Frankfurt play host to Napoli, who are one of the most in-form sides on the continent. The Serie A title seems to be heading back to Naples, and Luciano Spalletti’s men have enough of a cushion in Italy to dedicate resources to a serious European run.
Internazionale host Porto in what appears to be a very evenly-matched tie — both sides will be licking their lips at the prospect of a place in the quarter-finals.
RB Leipzig, who are used to this stage of the competition by now, have the almighty task of stopping Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, who will be desperate to finally grasp this trophy.
We used the Twenty3 Toolbox to identify the standout narratives ahead of these titanic tussles.
Liverpool vs Real Madrid (Tuesday, 8pm)
Both Liverpool and Real Madrid have enjoyed very productive Champions League campaigns in front of goal, netting 17 and 15 times — respectively — in their six group games.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side profile well as a possession-heavy side, having completed 3,616 passes and 1,001 forward passes in the competition.
Jurgen Klopp’s men, on the other hand, have completed just 2,690 passes overall.
However, the Reds tend to press high up the pitch to create chances from high turnovers — they have made an impressive 233 ball recoveries in the opposition half in the Champions League this term.
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Napoli (Tuesday, 8pm)
All eyes will be on Napoli, who are third in the Champions League scoring charts with 20 goals after an incredible group stage campaign.
They also completed 110 dribbles and attempted the 103 shots, evidence of their positive intent in matches.
Frankfurt are solid defensively, however, and will hope to stand up to the attacking brilliance of their upcoming opponents.
They have won 105 loose balls and made 561 ball recoveries in the competition — Oliver Glasner’s side are incredibly well-drilled.
Napoli will have to be at their electric best to get past the Europa League champions.
Internazionale vs Porto (Wednesday, 8pm)
This match-up should be a very evenly-contested game between two teams with similar approaches, according to the data.
The pair have been about as dangerous as each other in attacking areas so far — Porto have scored 12 times from 10.28 xG, while Inter have netted 10 from 11 xG.
Inter may have a slight edge defensively, however — they have made 602 successful defensive actions and won the 103 aerial duels — both more than their upcoming opponents.
They also play a very high line, completing 20 offside traps, which could potentially leave space in behind for Porto to exploit if the Portuguese outfit can time their runs well.
RB Leipzig vs Manchester City (Wednesday, 8pm)
It will shock nobody to suggest that Pep Guardiola’s side will go to Germany with the intention of controlling the game via possession.
The Premier League holders have completed a staggering 3,919 passes in the Champions League.
Additionally, their tally of 697 completed backward passes suggests they are patient and wait for the right moment to penetrate.
However, they also boast 924 completed forward passes, highlighting their ruthlessness with the ball.
Leipzig, meanwhile, are much more direct, completing 175 long passes.
City’s ability to retain possession for long periods is likely to limit the German side, meaning they will need to make the most of their brief spells on the ball.
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