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Wednesday, November 29, 2023
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Champions League preview: PSG head to Madrid with edge

AP – The first four spots in the quarterfinals of the Champions League are up for grabs this week, with most of the competition’s title favourites in action. Here’s a look at the upcoming second-leg matches in the round of 16:

THURSDAY, 4am Brunei time

Holding a big lead, City has the luxury of being able to rotate its players amid a busy run of fixtures in three competitions as the season reaches the business end.

Defence is the area where Pep Guardiola has few options, though, with Kyle Walker serving the second match of his three-game suspension, Ruben Dias out for up to six weeks with a hamstring problem and Nathan Ake also injured.

It’s up front where Guardiola may make changes three days after the Manchester derby and the likes of Gabriel Jesus and Jack Grealish looking for game time after returning from injury.

City will reach the quarterfinals for the fifth straight season unless something sensational is produced by Sporting, which is more likely to come into the match in damage-limitation mode after its thrashing three weeks earlier in Portugal.

Real Madrid enters the second leg against PSG with coach Carlo Ancelotti having to figure out a way to set up his midfield.

Casemiro is suspended and Toni Kroos and Federico Valverde are listed as doubtful.

Valverde is more likely to be available after missing a game because of flu symptoms, but Kroos is expected to be out due to a muscle injury. Ferland Mendy also is out due to suspension.

PSG prepared for the trip to Spain by losing for only the third time in 27 French league matches this season.

Coach Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping to have Achraf Hakimi, Leandro Paredes, Ander Herrera back from injury to face Madrid.

Pochettino rested defenders Presnel Kimpembe and Nuno Mendes against Nice. Kylian Mbappé didn’t play due to suspension so will be fresh to link up with Lionel Messi.

PSG is aiming to winning the Champions League for the Qatari ownership for the first time.

PSG’s Kylian Mbappe scores a goal during a French League One match at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. PHOTO: AP

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