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3. TV PREVIEWS: UEFA Champions League
February 19th, 2007 4:58PM

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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.

Tuesday's Games:


REAL MADRID-BAYERN MUNICH. They 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 Bayern game.
TV: ESPN Deportes, live, 2:30 pm ET; ESPN Classic, Setanta Sports USA, delay, 5 pm ET.

LILLE-MANCHESTER UNITED. Tiny 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. The 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 loan 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 pm ET.

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 11-point cushion.
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.

Wednesday's Games:

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 partnership."
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.
TV: ESPN 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 Morientes (9).
TV: ESPN Deportes, delay, 4:45 pm ET; Setanta Sports USA, delay, 9 pm ET.

ROMA-LYON. 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.
Internet-PPV: espnsoccernet.com, live, 2:40 pm ET.


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