Today’s Champions League Round of 16

Bayern aim to topple Lazio in Champions League last-16

Trailing by one goal following last month’s first leg in Rome, Bayern Munich will aim to overturn Lazio‘s lead in the Champions League last-16 on Tuesday.

While the Serie A side are close to a first quarter-final appearance in two decades, the German champions have made that stage for three years straight and are ultimately seeking a seventh European crown.

Following an autumn stroll through Group A, where they finished top of the pile by eight points, Bayern Munich may have expected to make serene progress to the Champions League’s latter stages, but they suffered a serious setback at Stadio Olimpico, losing 1-0.

The turning point arrived midway through the second half of a close-fought game, when Dayot Upamecano was sent off and conceded a penalty, before Lazio captain Ciro Immobile stepped up to coolly convert from the spot

As Bayern have already exited the DFB-Pokal and lost the DFL-Supercup to Leipzig, the prospect of a trophyless season looms large. With silverware seen as a requirement from each and every season, the pressure is therefore on the six-time European champions to defy dwindling odds and become kings of the continent once again.

The German giants have previously progressed from all but one of their last dozen ties at this stage of the Champions League, and are also unbeaten in 13 home matches in the competition.

However, history suggests staging a second-leg comeback may not be so straightforward: Bayern have been eliminated from each of their last seven Champions League ties when losing the first leg.

Neither side is enjoying their best form, but last month’s opener suggests they are not quite so mismatched as many pundits thought. Lazio have been better in the Champions League than in Serie A this season but rarely fare well on the road; even misfiring Bayern should have enough firepower to take advantage.



Real Sociedad, PSG renew acquaintances at the Reale Arena

Three weeks on from an entertaining first leg at the Parc des Princes, Real Sociedad and Paris Saint-Germain renew acquaintances for the return fixture at the Reale Arena on Tuesday night.

The Ligue 1 champions weathered a first-half storm to emerge triumphant by two goals to nil in the opening encounter, since when their hosts have already experienced one dose of knockout dejection.

PSG players

Competing in the Champions League knockout rounds for just the second time under its current name, Real Sociedad – semi-finalists of the old European Cup in 1982-83 – had their moments in the first half at the Parc des Princes on Valentine’s Day, but they were not feeling the love in front of goal.

Wasting a succession of promising chances in the opening period would unsurprisingly prove fatal in the French capital, where Kylian Mbappe broke the deadlock for Les Parisiens in the 58th minute, before Bradley Barcola surged past Hamari Traore and finished a slick solo run with a finish through Alex Remiro‘s legs at his near post.

A two-goal deficit is not insurmountable for Imanol Alguacil‘s troops, but history does not favour the men in blue and white, who lost 1-0 to PSG’s Ligue 1 rivals Lyon in the first leg of their last-16 tie in 2003-04 – their only other knockout round appearance since 1992 – and suffered the same fate in the second leg.

Bidding to banish the last-16 curse which has haunted them in many a Champions League tournament, a PSG side still searching for their maiden top-level European honour need only avoid a catastrophic collapse at the Reale Arena to take another step towards that elusive crown.

While their upcoming hosts have recorded several blots on their notebook in 2024, the French champions head to Spain with an impressive 20-match unbeaten run to protect, although they have dropped points in their last two Ligue 1 fixtures with Rennes (0-0) and Monaco (0-0).

PSG will be under no illusions that they were fortunate to escape with a clean sheet from Friday’s draw with Monaco, where Donnarumma proved himself as one of the world’s best shot-stoppers, and second-leg collapses are nothing new for the French champions.

With several big-hitters primed for returns to the first XI, Real Sociedad should give their visitors a strong run for their money, but their home record makes for painful reading, and a place in the quarter-final draw surely awaits Enrique’s troops.



La Liga to analyse alleged racist abuse of Vinicius Jr at Valencia

La Liga is analysing a video reportedly showing Vinicius Jr being racially abused during Real Madrid’s game at Valencia, BBC Sport understands.

The video posted on social media allegedly shows a child fan directing abuse towards the player, reports The Athletic.

Vinicius Jr

Vinicius scored twice in Saturday’s 2-2 draw and celebrated by raising his fist in the air.

The 23-year-old has faced racist abuse several times during his time in Spain.

In May 2023, Vinicius said “La Liga belongs to racists” after he was abused by Valencia fans at the Mestalla.

Three people were later arrested in connection with the abuse and Valencia were fined and ordered to partially close their stadium for five matches, later reduced to three on appeal.

The racist abuse Vinicius has faced in the past 18 months includes:

September 2022 – Some Atletico Madrid fans sang racist songs toward Vinicius outside their Metropolitano stadium before Real Madrid played them. Atletico Madrid later condemned the “unacceptable” chants by a “minority” of fans.

September 2022 – Some pundits in Spain criticised Vinicius’ goal celebration, in which he danced by the corner flag. He responded by saying “the happiness of a black Brazilian in Europe” is behind the criticism.

December 2022 – Vinicius appeared to be subjected to racist abuse at Valladolid while he walked past fans after being substituted. The next month La Liga said it had filed charges relating to the racist abuse of Vinicius to the “relevant judicial, administrative and sporting bodies”.



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