On the loose this season, Barcelona and Manchester United had to fire their coaches and turn to iconic midfielders who evoke the glorious eras of historic clubs.
Both Xavi Hernández and Michael Carrick will have their first experience as coaches in a Champions League on Tuesday. Both Barcelona and United are looking for victories to reach the round of 16 with an early date.
Some points to consider for the fifth day of the group stage of the continental tournament:
After making his debut as Barcelona manager with a victory in the Spanish League at the weekend, Xavi Hernández turns his attention to the Champions League and a crucial duel against Benfica. The hometown victory in the Catalan derby against Espanyol ended a four-game winless streak in the domestic tournament and another on Tuesday will allow the Catalans to secure a pass to the second round in Europe and scare away the fear of being left out in the phase. of groups for the first time in almost two decades.
The alarms in the Catalan club went off when – with Ronald Koeman at the helm – they began their march in the Champions League with successive 3-0 defeats against Bayern Munich and Benfica.
Now, Barcelona is second in Group E, two points ahead of Benfica third and with two games to play.
The Bayern leader, classified in advance, visits Dynamo Kiev, reduced by the absences of seven players who have been detected the coronavirus or are in isolation for having been in contact with a positive. Midfielder Joshua Kimmich and forward Serge Gnabry stand out among the absent seven.
“I prefer not to think about the negative hypothesis, because I do not contemplate it,” said Xavi. “What I have experienced at Barça is winning and fighting for the titles, if I speak of the message in case of defeat I would be transmitting what I do not think. For now let me dream and think about winning ”.
CARRICK IN COMMAND
Seen as one of the best midfielders in English football and perhaps the most underrated in recent years, Carrick was known for his calm, quiet authority and his vision on the field. He’ll need all of those attributes now that he’s taking over as United’s interim manager. Carrick, who just started his coaching career in 2018 and has never been the top manager, was named Sunday following the firing of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Carrick will manage until United find another helmsman to take over for the remainder of the season. He will kick off his new role with a crucial away game against Villarreal on Tuesday, with United looking to clinch the standings.
Both teams have seven points in Group F, two more than Atalanta. Carrick will need to revive a United coming off a 4-1 loss to Watford on Saturday in the Premier League, the result that ended up costing Solskjaer his place.
FULL WEIGHTS BATTLE
A victory for Paris Saint-Germain in their visit to Manchester City on Wednesday would ensure the French side a ticket to the round of 16. In contrast to their perfect record when they played in their Parc des Princes this season, PSG have suffered on the road, drawing draws against Brugge and Leipzig in the Champions League, and a loss to Rennes in the French league.
THE CHAMPION LOOKS FOR HIS PASS
Chelsea, the reigning European champion, needs to score a point at home against leaders Juventus to accompany the Italian club into the next round. A draw would be good business for Juve, as it would ensure that they finish first in Group H. Jorginho would be fit to play for Chelsea after cramming in a 3-0 win over Leicester on Saturday that kept the London club atop the Premier League. In addition, Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner could reappear after injuries. Coming from injury, Argentine forward Paulo Dybala will be among the substitutes for the visit to Stamford Bridge. In the other group match, Zenit St. Petersburg visits bottom Malmo, who has not scored a single point and has not scored goals either.
Salzburg leads Group G with seven points and an away win on Tuesday against French champions Lille (5 points) will make them the first Austrian club to reach the round of 16 since Sturm Graz in 2000-01. Salzburg could have sealed their qualification earlier, but lost to Wolfsburg.
Without victories in this edition, bottom player Sevilla (3 points) is risking his life by receiving Wolfsburg (5). The Spanish team has two of its attack pieces between cottons: the Argentine Erik Lamela and Suso. Wolfsburg will be without goalkeeper Koen Casteels after testing positive for coronavirus.