Over these past few days, the teams who will be playing the Final 16 of the Champions League have been involved in various developments – whether for good or for worse.
Manchester City quickly come into mind as they were on the wrong end of the Champions League 2020 news when they were meted atwo-year ban by the UEFA Committee few days ago.
Elsewhere, Liverpool turn their attention in the European showcase since a Premier League title is already in the bag. The defending titlists will lock horns against Atletico Madrid tomorrow, who are yet to find their peak form.
Borussia Dortmund and PSG will also kick off the festivities tomorrow and football fans can check out the preview of the said match here
For now, allow SBOTOP to provide you some more updates with our news roundup.
Manchester City undergoing a huge crisis
The run of bad luck continues at the Etihad when Manchester City were slapped a two-year competition ban in the Champions League by the UEFA Committee due to FFP violations.
City were found guilty of overstating their club sponsorship revenues after a thorough investigation on their books, which was sparked by Der Spiegel’s 2018 report regarding “leaked” emails and documents involving the team owners.
The said “leaked” emails and documents indicated that team owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan was declared to have shelled out £67.5-M in annual sponsorship for City’s shirt, stadium, and academy via the Etihad. However, the emails suggested that only £8-M of that sponsorship in 2016 was funded by Etihad and the rest came from the Abu Dhabi United Group.
While City have already filed an appeal regarding this announcement, there has been much speculation of the future of Pep Guardiola and his key players, with a number of rival teams looking to poach them all.
However, Guardiola reiterated his commitment with the team saying that they should stick together amidst this crisis.
“Whatever league we are in, I will still be here. Even if they put us in League Two, I will still be here. This is a time for sticking together,” said Guardiola.
Manchester City are slated to face Real Madrid in their knockout matchup on Thursday in what is expected to be a high-scoring showdown.
Neymar expected to be back
PSG are about to get a huge boost in their Champions League campaign as they welcome Neymar back into their lineup after having missed their past four matches due to a rib injury.
Of course, this is great news for head coach Thomas Tuchel ashis squad is aiming high after enduring a three-year winless run in the tournament’s last 16 knockout phase.
“When you go out in the last 16 three times and then you’re back there again, it’s clear that it’s not a simple situation. But every year writes its own story. You need defeat in order to grow and develop yourself,” shared Tuchel in a recent press conference.
“If we have Neymar on the field, we have the self-confidence,” he added.
Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi have been carrying the load for the most part during Neymar’s absence. They are two of the club’s leading scorers with 20 and 16 goals respectively.
But adding a healthy Neymar would be a boon for the squad since he’s contributed 14 goals and eight assists already this season, and that should make them one of the dark horses in this tournament.
They will, however, face a dangerous Dortmund club who has been hitting their stride as of late. BVB recently notched a dominating 4-0 victory against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga.
Erling Haaland will make his Champions League debut for the Yellows tomorrow to spearhead their offence. The 19-year-old sensation has already scored nine goals in six games in all competitions for Dortmund.
Chelsea boost their midfield depth
Chelsea have bolstered their midfield depth bysigning Hakim Ziyech from Ajax effective this summer.
The Moroccan international has been coveted by team manager Frank Lampard as he is an adept playmaker and a set-piece specialist. He has been a prolific scorer throughout his pro career, as he scored 100 goals for his club and his country.
It can be remembered that Ziyech contributed three goals for Ajax in their 4-4 draw against Chelsea during their Champions League game last November, which included a wonderful corner kick that breezed past Chelsea goal keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
He is expected to play a huge role for the Blues moving forward as a creative spark given that Ziyech has provided 421 attacking opportunities for Ajax since joining them in 2016.
Since 2018, he has also recorded more assists than Lionel Messi in the Champions League. Only Riyad Mahrez and Kylian Mbappe are ahead of him in that regard.
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