The knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League are back under way and sure enough they did not disappoint with all four games last week providing drama and major talking points.
I cannot quite remember hype like that surrounding the first leg of Real Madrid CF v Manchester United FC, especially for a match so early in the knockout stage. But both sides played without any such burden, in particular Cristiano Ronaldo, whom we heard on Matchday Live before kick-off talking about wanting to be reunited with his former employers in the competition. His stunning headed goal and all-round display show he seems to relish the big occasions more than ever.
On Tuesday of this week's panel show we have an interview with Javi Martínez heralding the very exciting tie between Arsenal FC and FC Bayern München. Along with the many sub-plots to be discussed on our show, including the prospect of Lukas Podolski facing his old club, we will see a battle between two of the most dynamic midfields in Europe.
Jack Wilshire's return and excellent form for the Gunners has added to the guile and industry of Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta, while Bayern's €40m signing of Martínez last summer has complemented Bastian Schweinsteiger perfectly. We will have full match commentary of that game from north London and we will hear from Málaga CF starlet Isco ahead of updates on their encounter with FC Porto at the Estádio do Dragão.
Andy Brassell and I spoke on last week's show about how Galatasaray AŞ may use new recruit Didier Drogba in the competition, considering that striker Burak Yılmaz had already hit six goals in the group stage. But it appears the pair can work together, as they showed in Friday's 2-1 win at Akhisar Belediyespor. Debutant Drogba scored a brilliant header within five minutes of coming off the bench before making a goal for Yılmaz shortly after. Which may give Schalke cause for concern before their meeting on Wednesday, when we will have updates from Istanbul.
Full match commentary that night comes from Italy where AC Milan host FC Barcelona, having been eliminated by the Blaugrana last season. Mario Balotelli has four goals in three domestic games for his new club but cannot feature having played for Manchester City FC in the group phase. However, with other quality forwards on the pitch such as Stephan El Shaarawy and Lionel Messi, we will have the thoughts of two defenders trying to stop them: Phillipe Mexès of Milan and Barcelona's Gerard Piqué.
No Andy Brassell this week – and it will be a shame not to be sat next to him and his quite brilliant red fingerless gloves – but fear not: UEFA.com European football expert Paul Saffer joins us once again.
We had views on everything last week from tactics at the Santiago Bernabéu and Cristiano Ronaldo's greatest moments to the quality of Andrea Pirlo's facial hair. So follow @championsleague and get your thoughts to us using #matchdaylive. The show starts at 19.30CET on Tuesday and Wednesday.
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