Four midweek matches to watch in the UCL

Atletico Madrid v Chelsea @Arena Nationala @9pm on Feb.23

Will Thomas Tuchel taste his first loss as a Chelsea manager against Diego Simeone’s experienced Atletico side in the UCL? Atletico lost their La Liga match at the weekend and Simeone will expect a positive reaction from his players, especially from Luis Suarez, who has scored against Chelsea in the past.

Tuchel sent a powerful message to his players during the 1-1 draw away to Southampton on Saturday when he sent on Callum Hudson-Odoi at the interval and then removed the forward 30 minutes into the second half.

Tammy Abraham may have given up his chance to lead the line with an inept performance while Thiago Silva misses out with a thigh injury. Atletico will be without Yannick Carrasco, Sime Vrsaljko, Jose Gimenez, and Kieran Trippier is still suspended. The match will tell a lot about both teams in the last leg of the season.

Current Form: Atletico [L-D-W-D-W]; Chelsea [D-W-W-W-W]

Head-to-head

05/12/17 UCL Chelsea 1 – 1 Atletico

27/09/17 UCL Atletico 1 – 2 Chelsea

30/04/14 UCL Chelsea 1 – 3 Atletico

22/04/14 UCL Atletico 0 – 0 Chelsea

31/08/12 USC Chelsea 1 – 4 Atletico

Prediction: Atletico 1-2 Chelsea

Lazio v Bayern Munich @Stadio Olimpico @9pm on Feb.23

There should be a reaction from the reigning European and world champions, Bayern Munich when they face Lazio in Rome on Tuesday after a rare defeat in the Bundesliga.

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But Bayern have proven unbeatable in Europe-17 matches unbeaten and 16 wins. Lazio won at the weekend but will be without Luis Felipe, Thomas Strakosha, and Stefan Radu. Simone Inzaghi’s team were unbeaten in the group stage-two wins and four draws; scoring 11 goals and conceding seven and the major talking point is they did not keep a single clean sheet.

Bayern have some injuries and COVID-19-enforced absentees with Corentin Tolisso, Serge Gnabry, Benjamin Pavard, and Thomas Muller while Niklas Sule is a doubt.

Current Form: Lazio [W-L-W-W-L]; Bayern Munich [L-D-W-W-W]

Head-to-head

First meeting

Prediction: Lazio 1-3 Bayern Munich

Borussia Monchengladbach v Manchester City @Puskas Arena @9pm on Feb.24

It is not the right time to face Manchester City, especially for a floundering Monchengladbach side which has lost two out of their last three matches. City are on an 18-match winning run with Kevin De Bruyne having returned from injury.

Pep Guardiola has re-engineered his team into a tight defensive side with goals from back to front. In the group stage, they scored 13 goals and conceded just one goal. Monchengladbach can be an awkward opponent and they have goal scorers in their ranks, with Marco Rose putting together a compact group that is not easily broken down.

They will play on the counter through the likes of Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea, whom Rose described as being very ‘important’. “If there is something that Manchester City don’t like, then it’s not having the ball. We need to play with courage and defend with passion. I have a team that is absolutely capable of that.” The result of this could hinge on which team gets the first goal.

Current Form: Monchengladbach [L-D-L-W-D]; Manchester City [W-W-W-W-W]

Head-to-head

23/11/16 UCL Monchengladbach 1 – 1 Manchester City

14/09/16 UCL Manchester City 4 – 0 Monchengladbach

08/12/15 UCL Manchester City 4 – 2 Monchengladbach

30/09/15 UCL Monchengladbach 1 – 2 Manchester City

Prediction: Monchengladbach 1-3 Manchester City

Atalanta v Real Madrid @Gewiss Stadium @9pm on Feb.24

Atalanta on their good day will run the best teams into the ground, with their fervour and high press. Atalanta made it a third consecutive win with a 4-2 home win over Napoli.

Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel are in good scoring nick, though they will look to reverse a bad run of no wins in their last three UEFA Champions League matches at their Gewiss Stadium this season.

On the road in this season’s UCL, Real Madrid have won once, drawn once and lost once but have a plethora of injuries-Eden Hazard, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Federico Valverde, Rodrygo, Daniel Carvajal, Karim Benzema, Eder Militao, and Alvaro Odriozola are all out of the encounter while Atalanta have only Hans Hateboer out of the encounter. Can Zinedine Zidane pull another rabbit out of the hat?

Current Form: Atalanta [W-W-W-D-D]; Real Madrid [W-W-W-W-L]

Head-to-head

First meeting

Prediction: Atalanta 3-2 Real Madrid

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