Europe’s top soccer teams return to the pitch on Tuesday, as Champions League play continues with the start of the Round of 16.
The first leg of two matchups will be held on Tuesday, as Liverpool visits Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain heads to Germany to take on Dortmund.
EPL Lead Allows Liverpool to Focus on Champions League
Liverpool have run away with the Premier League race, meaning the club can focus its efforts on defending its Champions League crown. Despite that luxury, manager Jurgen Klopp says the Reds are far from favorites to retain their title.
“I have no clue if we can win the Champions League again, but we should be ready to go for it,” Klopp told reporters. “What I know and what we showed last year is that we can beat the best. It doesn’t mean we will, it just means we can, and that is the only thing I have to know. There are so many strong teams out there you have to be ready for the fight, then it’s about luck in certain moments to win anything.”
Even Atletico manager Diego Simeone had nothing but praise for Liverpool and the tremendous season the English side is having.
“We are facing a magnificent team, really well-trained by a coach who is different and has different alternatives in his team,” Simeone told reporters. “We have always spoken about great teams throughout time, and I have no doubt this Liverpool is going to go down in history as a great team because it is different to teams we have admired [in the past].”
Liverpool comes into Madrid as a road favorite. FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Reds as a +115 pick to win the first leg, with Atletico posted as a +270 underdog. Liverpool sits as a -380 favorite to advance to the quarterfinals.
PSG Boss Expects Neymar to Play Tuesday
Tuesday’s other match pits Ligue 1 leaders PSG against Dortmund, which currently sits third in Germany’s Bundesliga. PSG has dealt with injury concerns over the past few weeks, but manager Thomas Tuchel expects to have both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe available for Tuesday.
“Neymar is fine,” Tuchel told reporters. “His return changes almost everything for us. Positively, I hope. We have quality if Neymar is on the pitch. He has the ability to do decisive things. It changes everything for us, it gives the team confidence. We do not have many other players of the same caliber.”
That quality leaves Dortmund in a tough spot at home, though oddsmakers expect at least this first leg to be a competitive affair. PSG stands as the +130 favorite over Dortmund (+190), according to FanDuel.
Overall, Manchester City (+360) remains the favorite to win the Champions League this season, despite the fact that the club is facing a two-year ban from the competition moving forward. Liverpool (+400), Bayern Munich (+550), and Barcelona (+650) are also among the top picks to win a European title this year.