Champions League matchday: Bayern Munich, Liverpool aim to advance; Real Madrid face Inter in crucial clash
Real Madrid's visit to Italy could leave one of the big two on the verge of elimination. “It's a final,” Inter coach Antonio Conte said.
A look at what’s happening in the Champions League on Wednesday:
European champion Bayern Munich can secure a place in the knockout rounds with another win over Salzburg. The Austrian team put up a fight against Bayern in their last game and took the early lead but was eventually overwhelmed 6-2. Bayern’s main concern is their leaky defence. Bayern have conceded at least once in all of their last five games and dropped points in a 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
Atlético Madrid, who plays Lokomotiv Moscow, haven't lost since the opening game against Bayern Munich in Germany. They have won five of their six games in all competitions since then, including against Barcelona in the Spanish league on Saturday. Diego Simeone again won’t be able to count on striker Luis Suárez because of a positive coronavirus test.
No one expected Real Madrid and Inter Milan to be struggling halfway through the group stage. Still, that's what has happened in a topsy-turvy group where neither Madrid nor Inter have beaten either of the supposed outsiders Borussia Mönchengladbach and Shakhtar Donetsk. That means Madrid's visit to Italy could leave one of the big two on the verge of elimination. “It's a final,” Inter coach Antonio Conte said. “We have to win.” Real Madrid will be without several players because of injuries, including Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Federico Valverde. Out because of positive coronavirus tests are defender Militão and forward Luka Jovic. Gladbach hammered Shakhtar 6-0 away and can extend their lead in the group with another win over the Ukrainian club.
One of four teams to have a 100 percent record after three group games, Manchester City need just a point from their trip to Olympiakos to qualify for the round of 16 for an eighth straight season. City have netted three goals in each of their opening games, a far cry from their form in the Premier League where scoring has — somewhat unusually — been an issue for Pep Guardiola's team. Sergio Aguero could make his latest return from injury to strengthen City's attacking options after staying on the bench for the 2-0 loss to Tottenham on Saturday. Olympiakos start the game in third place and three points behind Porto, who is away to a Marseille team that has yet to score a goal or collect a point this campaign. In fact, Marseille face the humiliating prospect of setting a Champions League record of 13 straight defeats in the competition. Marseille share the worst streak of 12 losses with Belgian club Anderlecht.
Liverpool can secure a spot in the knockout stage with two games to spare, and go a long way to clinching a first-place finish in the group, by beating Atalanta in their return match at Anfield. The English champions made it three wins from three by thrashing the Italian side 5-0 in their first meeting before the international break and are five points clear of both Atalanta and Ajax, who appear to be vying for the second spot. “It was a harsh result in the first leg but we start this game at 0-0,” Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini said. Mohamed Salah is available to play for Liverpool after returning to training following repeated negative tests for the coronavirus .
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Ibrahimovic proved he has returned to his best after injury, with the club set to sign former Juventus and Bayern Munich forward Mario Mandzukic to help their title push.
Roma stay third with 34 points, but are six points off leaders AC Milan having also played a game more.
Serie A: Juventus manager Andrea Pirlo credits former boss Antonio Conte for inspiring coaching ambitions
Ex-Juve boss Conte, 51, led the Turin giants to the first three off their current run of nine Serie A titles with then midfielder Pirlo, 41, on his team.