By DAN KARELL
It will be hard to top the late drama that the world witnessed in Dortmund on Tuesday night, but both Wednesday UEFA Champions League matches could live up to the hype.
Paris Saint-Germain travel to Barcelona for the second-leg, needing to win or draw scoring three goals or more. Meanwhile Juventus hosts recently crowned German champions Bayern Munich trailing 2-0 on aggregate, and hoping for a revitalized spirit in the rematch.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is a game-time decision after suffering a hamstring injury during the first leg against PSG, which ended 2-2. PSG will be buoyed if Messi is unavailable to take the field, but knowing the history, they’ll find it tough to win in the Camp Nou regardless. David Beckham could be handed another start by manager Carlo Ancelotti after starting the first-leg and going 70 minutes.
Though they sit atop the Serie A standings, Juventus have struggled all season to find a consistent scorer. No one on their roster has scored double digit goals in Serie A yet, and their leading scorer, Fabio Quagliarella has finished just 12 times in all competitions.
On Wednesday, they’ll need to find a way to click in order to take down Bayern, who have had no problem scoring recently, as evidenced by their 9-2 win against Hamburg. The German powerhouse has only failed to win once since December 18, which was the 2-0 loss to Arsenal at home. Outside of that, even on the road, Bayern have been more than dominant enough to make a return to the Champions League final again.
Here is a closer look at today’s Champions League quarterfinal matches:
BARCELONA VS. PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
2:45pm, Fox Soccer Channel
Players to Watch: BARCELONA – Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, David Villa; PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Javier Pastore, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marco Verratti.
Quick Kicks: Barcelona will be sweating over the fitness levels of Lionel Messi, who will at best be coming off the bench, and at worst, not take part in the match against PSG at all. Adriano and Pedro missed the match against Mallorca through injury. Javier Mascherano’s knee injury suffered in the first-leg has ruled him out until the end of May. PSG will be without midfielder Blaise Matuidi due to yellow card accumulation, and could likely be without holding midfielder Thiago Motta, due to a nagging groin injury. Both central defenders from the first match Alex and Thiago Silva missed PSG’s win on Saturday through injury, but are expected to be fit to play at the Camp Nou.
JUVENTUS vs. BAYERN MUNICH
2:45pm, Fox Soccer Plus, MSG+
Players to Watch: JUVENTUS – Andrea Pirlo, Mirko Vucinic, Alessandro Matri, Fabio Quagliarella; BAYERN MUNICH – Mario Mandzukic, Frank Ribery, Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Quick Kicks: Juventus picked a good time to score some goals, with Vucinic bagging both goals in their 2-1 win over Pescara on Saturday. Vucinic will likely lead the line on Wednesday but they’ll be without Nicolas Anelka and Sebastian Giovinco due to injury, and Arturo Vidal and Stephan Lichtsteiner due to suspension. Bayern welcome Javi Martinez back from suspension, but won’t have the services of Toni Kroos, who was injured in the first leg and will likely miss the rest of the season.
What do you think of today’s matches? Do you believe PSG has a chance to move on? Do you see Juventus scoring on Bayern? Which match are you most looking forward to?
Share your thoughts below.