The UEFA Champions League moves into the knockout phase with the first leg of the round of 16 on Tuesday and Wednesday. The good news for American fans is all eight games are available on television, including five live telecasts, and all games are available on a pay-per-view basis via the Internet on espnsoccernet.com.
have 13 European Cup titles between them -- nine for Real Madrid and
four for Bayern -- and four in the last decade, but both clubs are in a
funk. Bayern has lost two of three games since the return of Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, while Madrid's 0-0
tie with Real Betis prompted more rumors that Coach Fabio Capello would hand in his
resignation. Bayern's hope is that its good form in the group phase of
the Champions League will carry
over. "We played a fantastic first phase and beat Inter in Milan,"
points out striker Roy Makaay.
Real Madrid's injury problems continued. A week after losing midfielder
Mahamadou Diarra due to an
ankle injury, defender Sergio Ramos
bruised his foot in the 0-0 tie with Real Betis and is doubtful for the
TV: ESPN Deportes, live, 2:30 pm
ET; ESPN Classic, Setanta Sports USA, delay, 5 pm ET.
Lille is confident that it take the first leg being played in nearby
Lens. Last season, Lille beat United, 1-0, in the home game of their
group stage series. A key for Lille will be the fitness of all-action
midfielder Mathieu Bodmer, who
is recovering from ankle trouble. United should be at full strength
with the return of Wayne Rooney,
who was suspended for Saturday's 1-1 tie with Reading in the FA Cup.
young England star is without a goal in Europe since his hat trick
against Fenerbahce in his debut in September
2004. The Lille game will mark the Champions League return of United
player Henrik Larsson, whose
last appearance in the competition came in last year's final for
Barcelona against Arsenal.
TV: Setanta Sports USA, live, 2:40
PSV-ARSENAL. The Gunners
are the heavy favorites, having never lost to PSV in four previous
games in the Champions League. Arsenal is coming off a disappointing
showing at home, where it had to settle for a 0-0 tie with Blackburn in
the FA Cup on Saturday. "We certainly cannot afford to play at the same
pace we did against Blackburn when we play PSV," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. The tie did keep the
Gunners' 2007 unbeaten record
intact, however. PSV has on the other hand struggled this winter. Its
lead over Ajax in
the Eredivisie is down to five points after beginning the year with an
TV: ESPN, live, 2:30 pm ET; ESPN
Deportes, delay, 7 pm ET.
CELTIC-AC MILAN. Both
clubs are short of available strikers. Brazilian Ricardo Oliveira could be Milan's
only fit option in attack. New signing Ronaldo
is ineligible, having already played this season for Real Madrid. Alberto Gilardino, the club's top
scorer, is doubtful with a knee injury. Fellow Italian Filippo Inzaghi is injured, and Marco Borriello is suspended for
failing a drug test. Celtic manager Gordon
Strachan's biggest concern is also the fitness of his front
line. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink,
Maciej Zurawski and Craig Beattie were all held out of
practice on Monday because of injuries, and Kenny Miller is recovering from a
head injury incurred when he collided with a linesman while
warming up as a substitute at Aberdeen on Saturday.
TV: PPV-Setanta, live, 2:40 pm ET;
ESPN Deportes, delay, 4:45 pm ET.
BARCELONA-LIVERPOOL. This shapes up
as the marquee match of the round of 16: Barcelona, the 2006 champion,
against Liverpool, the 2005 champion. Barca is coming off a 2-1 loss at
Valencia that dropped it into a tie with Sevilla for first place in La
Liga, but a bright spot was the play of Argentine
playmaker Lionel Messi, who
has recovered from a foot injury and looked sharp as a second-half
substitute against Valencia. Samuel Eto'o, who didn't suit up
against Valencia, is also expected to be available. With French
defender Lilian Thuram
also healthy, Barcelona is at full strength for the first time in
months. While Barcelona is considered the heavy favorite, former
Barcelona great Johan Cruyff
thinks the Reds' attack can cause trouble. "Barcelona against Liverpool
is the absolute top match in the Champions League and, normally
speaking, it shouldn't be a problem for Barca," Cruyff told The Sun.
"But the last time I saw Liverpool playing, I have to say that with [Dirk] Kuyt and [Peter] Crouch up front, they played
some excellent stuff. The two of them form an enormously good
TV: ESPN Deportes, live, 2:30 pm
ET; Setanta Sports USA, live, 2:40 pm ET; ESPN Classic, delay, 5 pm ET.
PORTO-CHELSEA. Manager Jose Mourinho leads
Chelsea against Porto, the team he coached to the 2004 Champions League
title. With speculation about Mourinho being on his way out, the
pressure is on Chelsea, which has the added burden of contending in
four competitions. The Blues are second behind Manchester United in the
EPL and they have reached the quarterfinals of the FA Cup and final of
the League Cup next Sunday against Arsenal. "To win the Champions
League is the maximum
prize for a European team," says Chelsea striker Didier Drogba,
"and we need to win it now. And in this season when we are going for
everything, I can see we could win it." With the games against Porto
and Arsenal in mind, Mourinho rested former Porto defender Ricardo Carvalho, Claude Makelele and Michael Ballack on Saturday against
Norwich in the FA Cup and took out Drogba and Frank Lampard with the Blues
cruising to a 4-0 win.
Deportes, delay, 7 pm ET.
INTER MILAN-VALENCIA. Inter is the hottest team in Europe, the
winner of 17 Serie A matches in a row. The Nerazzurri have one of the
deepest frontlines in Europe. Swede Zlatan
Ibrahimovic (10 Serie A goals) is back in action after suffering
a head injury that kept him out of the lineup last week. Hernan Crespo (8) is still going
strong, while Brazilian Adriano
(4) has regained his scoring touch. Valencia, which beat Barcelona,
2-1, to close within four points of the leaders Barcelona and Sevilla,
counters with the frontline tandem of David
Villa (10 La Liga goals) and Fernando
TV: ESPN Deportes, delay, 4:45 pm
ET; Setanta Sports USA, delay, 9 pm ET.
After going five straight games without a win, runaway French leader
Lyon has won back-to-back games, including a 2-1 win at Lille Friday
night on a pair of goals in the last seven minutes. Coach Gerard Houllier's two best
midfielders, Brazilian Juninho
and Portuguese Tiago,
missed the Lille game, but they should be available against Roma. The
Italian club is coming off a 1-0 loss at Empoli that dropped it 14
points behind Serie A leader Inter Milan. Roma's first-choice
centerbacks, Christian Chivu
and Philippe Mexes, should be
back for the Lyon match after sitting out the last two Serie A games.
TV: ESPN Deportes, delay, Thursday,
4 pm ET.
live, 2:40 pm ET.