Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph is hoping to be fit in time to take on Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League after shaking off an Achilles injury. "They are great team who have many world-class players, but so have we," Delph said. "We'll have a game plan and if we execute that to perfection, I can't see why we can't come out victorious over the two legs."
Today is a dual celebration for Benfica; it is central defender Jardel's 30th birthday and sporting director Rui Costa's 44th. Jardel, who recently signed a new deal committing himself to the Eagles until 2020, told the Brazilian media "the team is focused on their main goal of the season – retaining the Portuguese league title", adding: "It has been a very even league this year."
Good news for Wolfsburg. Goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, out since 6 February with a rib injury, is ready to return to action, giving Dieter Hecking a decision to make: does he keep faith with Koen Casteels, who has peformed well in Benaglio's absence, or restore the Swiss international to the side? "It's good that Diego is back," said Hecking. "I have something in mind, but our two goalkeepers are the first ones who should know about that decision."
Barcelona are fearing the worst after Jérémy Mathieu limped out of France's 4-2 friendly win against Russia with a suspected knee injury. Although Mathieu must undergo further tests, it looks likely that the defender will be unavailable for Saturday's crunch match at home to Real Madrid and the UEFA Champions League quarter-final opener against Atlético Madrid three days later. If reports that the 32-year-old will require surgery are confirmed, he will miss the remainder of the season and UEFA EURO 2016 in his homeland.
Barcelona have now confirmed that Jérémy Mathieu has torn the meniscus is his right knee and will undergo surgery on Thursday. He is unlikely to play again for his club this season and is a major doubt for UEFA EURO 2016.
With the clash against Real Madrid on Wednesday captivating the entire city, Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking has warned that it is business before pleasure. Trailing the Bundesliga UEFA Champions League berths by six points at the moment, Friday's encounter against Leverkusen, who have top four ambitions of their own, is "a trend-setting match" according to Hecking. The good news is that Bas Dost could make his comeback, with the striker expected to sit on the bench for the first time since December. Goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, meanwhile, who missed seven Bundesliga games with a rib injury, will return to the starting XI.
Paris Saint-Germain are the only club still to be involved in three UEFA competitions this season. The capital club's women's team sealed their place in the UEFA Women's Champions League semi-finals with victory against Barcelona on Wednesday, while the men's side are in the last eight of Europe's premier club competition. Lastly, Paris are also through to the last four of the UEFA Youth League and will face Real Madrid on 15 April. Paris president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi said it is a source of "great joy and great pride for the club" to have reached the latter stages of all three competitions.
Bayern getting set for Saturday's visit of Eintracht Frankfurt ...
Real Madrid have released a statement on the condition of Raphaël Varane after an injury on France duty ruled him out of tomorrow's trip to Barcelona:
After the tests carried out today at the Sanitas La Moraleja University Hospital the player Raphael Varane has been diagnosed with muscle injury in his left ankle. Further developments will be monitored.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has been speaking ahead of the showdown with Madrid ...
Wolfsburg's hopes of qualifying for next season's UEFA Champions League suffered a severe blow as they lost 3-0 at Leverkusen. A tepid first half came to life when Leverkusen opened the scoring, Julian Brandt neatly exchanging passes with Hakan Çalhanoğlu before sweeping his finish past Diego Benaglio.
Max Kruse drove into the side-netting before the break and Marcel Schäfer fired straight at Bernd Leno after the interval as Wolfsburg threatened sporadically, but Leverkusen sealed the points when Javier Hernández (73) curled in sumptuously from outside the area and Vladlen Yurchenko drilled in a late third.
Jonas became the first player in top-flight European football to reach 30 league goals as Benfica swept aside Braga 5-1.
The hosts had the victory wrapped up before the break thanks to Kostas Mitroglou (17), Jonas's penalty (37) and Pizzi (40). Jonas had laid on the third goal and provided the assist for Mitroglou's second on 71 minutes before substitute Andreas Samaris (75) made it five. A late penalty for Braga was the only blemish for Benfica, who move five points clear of Sporting ahead of their trip to Belenenses on Monday.
Franck Ribéry's first goal of 2016 was enough for Bayern to go eight points clear in the Bundesglia, at least until Borussia Dortmund play later. Bayern had 13 shots on target but visiting goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky was on inspired form.
Manchester City returned to form and remain in the top four after a 4-0 win at Bournemouth. Fernando opened his goal account for the season in the seventh minute and, back from injury, Kevin De Bruyne volleyed in his first goal since 26 December as he showed fine form ahead of the trip to Paris. Agüero made it 3-0 up 19 minutes and Aleksandr Kolarov added a fourth in added time.
Atlético Madrid remain in second behind Barcelona after winning 5-1 against Real Betis. With defensive injuries, Diego Simeone gave Nacho Monsalve a Liga debut at the back but the action was at the other end once Fernando Torres finally broke the deadlock on 37 minutes. Antoine Griezmann scored twice, striking in his sixth straight Liga game, with Juanfran and Thomas Partey also on target.
Zlatan Ibrahimović warmed up for Wednesday's visit of Manchester City with his first home hat-trick of the season for champions Paris Saint-Germain as they won 4-1 against third-placed Nice, David Luiz also scoring. Paris now have a 25-point lead over Monaco and Ibrahimović, on 30 league goals, has twice as many as anyone else in the division this season.
There's still one game left tonight involving the two quarter-finalists yet to play their weekend league fixture ...
The Barcelona v Madrid teams ...
Barcelona's 39-game unbeaten run is over after ten-man Real Madrid produced a comeback to win 2-1 and keep their Liga hopes alive. Preceded by a minute's silence observed by the 99,264 crowd for Johan Cruyff, the game was dominated by Barcelona in the early stages but Madrid repelled their attacks and began to settle. The deadlock was broken when Gerard Piqué headed in an Ivan Rakitić corner only for Karim Benzema to level after Marcelo set up Toni Kroos to cross.
Late on Gareth Bale had a goal disallowed and Cristiano Ronaldo hit the crossbar in a late push from the visitors. And although Sergio Ramos was then sent off for a secpnd bookable offences, Ronaldo chested down a Bale cross and finished at an angle. Barcelona's lead over Atleti is down to six points with Madrid one further back.
Barcelona's loss to Real Madrid on Saturday was not the ideal preparation for Tuesday's quarter-final opener against Atlético, but Barça coach Luis Enrique remains focused on the challenges ahead.
Luis Enrique, Barcelona: "Going 39 games unbeaten means little if you don’t win titles at the end of the season." pic.twitter.com/JhKagGVECS— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 3, 2016
Bayern München host Benfica in Tuesday's other quarter-final first leg and will be hoping for another Manuel Neuer clean sheet. The Germany goalkeeper continues to rack them up in the Bundesliga, and reached a new landmark on Saturday.
Paris Saint-Germain will entertain Manchester City in full confidence on Wednesday, having already dispatched Premier League opposition in the form of Chelsea in the round of 16. City have struggled domestically of late but will surely be spurred by the return from injury of Kevin De Bruyne, after the Belgian international starred in Saturday's 4-0 win at Bournemouth.
Paris certainly seem to be in hungry mood this season …