UEFA Champions League updates: 4-10 April

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04/04/2016
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Benfica's Jonas and Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid kept alive their ESM Golden Shoe hopes with goals at the weekend as their clubs recorded notable victories.

Jonas scored his 30th Portuguese Liga goal of the season in Benfica's 5-1 win against Braga on Friday, and remains level with Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuaín on 60 points at the top of the standings. Ronaldo, meanwhile, scored Madrid's late winner in their comeback victory at Barcelona and has 29 goals for the campaign – translating into 58 points.

Elsewhere in the top ten, Paris forward Zlatan Ibrahimović hit a hat-trick against Nice and also has 30 goals in Ligue 1 this season – worth 45 points.

ESM Golden Shoe ranking
1 Gonzalo Higuaín (Napoli) 30 goals x 2 = 60 points
Jonas (Benfica) 30 x 2 = 60
3 Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 29 x 2 = 58
4 Luis Suárez (Barcelona) 26 x 2 = 52
5 Robert Lewandowski (Bayern München) 25 x 2 = 50
6 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund) 23 x 2 = 46
7 Zlatan Ibrahimović (Paris Saint-Germain) 30 x 1.5 = 45
8 Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) 22 x 2 = 44
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) 22 x 2 = 44
10 Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) 21 x 2 = 42
Neymar (Barcelona) 21 x 2 = 42


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Paris midfielder Lucas described Wednesday's meeting with Manchester City as "very interesting" after the French champions defeated Nice 4-1 on Saturday. "They are two teams at similar levels, with a similar ambition," said the Brazilian. "Like us, thay are aiming to win the Champions League one day. It will be a very interesting fight."

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Paris are likely to be without Marco Verratti (groin) and Javier Pastore (calf) for the visit of Manchester City on Wednesday. Ángel Di María, who sustained a knee minor injury on international duty, is expected to be available.

Possible lineup
Trapp; Marquinhos, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Maxwell; Matuidi, Thiago Motta, Rabiot; Di María, Ibrahimovic, Cavani.

What is the injury status of Bayern winger Arjen Robben? Unclear. Last week various German media outlets said he would be sidelined for five weeks, but a Dutch paper quoted Robben's father as denying those reports. Josep Guardiola was asked about it but could not give an update. "It's a question for the doctors," he answered. Reading between the lines, that likely means the 32-year-old is out of the visit of Benfica on Tuesday.

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A FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship winner with France, Christophe Dugarry, now a respected pundit in his homeland, has tipped Paris to reach their first UEFA Champions League semi-final since 1995 by overcoming Manchester City. "They are two similar teams who like to have the ball," said the former Barcelona player. "Paris are better individually and from a team point of view. City have big defensive problems, they concede a lots of goals, but have players who can make the difference at any moment. It's better for Paris to play a team like them than a completely different one, like Atlético for example."

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A 3-0 reverse at Leverkusen on Friday was not what Wolfsburg wanted before the first leg of their quarter-final against Real Madrid. "We didn't play as a team," said coach Dieter Hecking. "It won't be pretty against Real with a performance like that." Goalkeeper Diego Benaglio added: "Real are unlikely to be scared of Wolfsburg after this."

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The Catalan media have turned their attention to Barcelona's quarter-final against Atlético following the Blaugrana's Clásico defeat on Saturday. Diario Sport's front cover reads "The Champions League is in your hands" and inside the newspaper talks of how Luis Enrique's team are determined to learn their lessons and correct the mistakes they made during the 2-1 home loss to Real Madrid.

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Gerard Piqué has shared his thoughts in Spain ahead of Barcelona's meeting with Liga rivals Atlético:


We're facing a tough opponent that knows how to defend. It'll be even. We have to control the ball from the first minute, suffocate them, have the fans behind us. We're not afraid, playing at home makes us strong. We'll do everything we can to make the final. Nobody is more convinced than we are.

Bayern have been unstoppable at home in this season's UEFA Champions League, winning all four games – although they needed extra time, and a recovery from 2-0 down, to beat Juventus in the round of 16 second leg.

Zinédine Zidane became the first Real Madrid coach since Bernd Schuster to win his debut Clásico in charge and it was evident that the Frenchman learned lessons from the side's 4-0 home hammering in the reverse fixture. He set the side up in a compact way to not allow Barcelona's front three – Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suárez – any space whatsoever and deployed the outstanding Casemiro as a shield in front of the back four.

Gareth Bale and winning scorer Cristiano Ronaldo could also be seen frequently tracking back to deny Barça's marauding full-backs space to exploit in what was a disciplined display. Despite enjoying just 38% possession, Madrid were set up to frustrate and hit Barcelona on the counterattack – and that is exactly what they did.

Casemiro, Real Madrid midfielder:


I left Brazil with the mentality of wanting to win in life. I always hold my head up high. I had a dream to play in the Champions League, so every time I play for Real Madrid, and in the Champions League, I try to enjoy it as much as possible because it's the realisation of a dream.

Everyone Real Madrid could have faced would have been difficult because there are no easy teams. We need to respect Wolfsburg because we know they have some great players, but respect them while playing our football, our happy football.

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Rui Vitória, Benfica coach:


We know we've done something the club have not been able to do recently [reaching the last eight]. Any team that make this stage won't say they don't want to win the competition. We will think about beating Bayern, regardless of how strong they are, but I am also proud to see this team, in a transitional phase, getting so far in the UEFA Champions League with such young players.

Sometimes the only way to neutralise tougher opponents is to recognise their strengths, be aware that it will be a hard match, and understand that to achieve anything you have to go through difficulties and be ready for them. We go into this game knowing our opponents are candidates to win the Champions League, but we won't be backing down.

There is still a long way to go until we're at the top of European football. In the past, Benfica were one of the big European clubs. Now, when economic differences [between Benfica and the very biggest clubs] are so much greater, things aren't as easy to achieve. But it's very gratifying when, for example, we visit Russia and we have so many fans travelling. So we're all over Europe – and hopefully in Germany too.

There are many stronger teams, in a sporting and a financial sense, but at this point in the competition you have to study, prepare and have the mindset to win. We have had that all along and it's what we will look to show in the quarter-final.

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Wolfsburg midfielder Josuha Guilavogui on facing Real Madrid:


I played for Atlético so this is a derby for me. I was part of the Atlético squad that beat Real Madrid 1-0 with a goal from Diego Costa, so why not aim to repeat that kind of performance? Of course we will need to defend well because they have such a strong attack with Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, so we will need to defend really well and then play well on the counter.

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The games are coming in thick and fast for Bayern as they enter the business end of the season. On Saturday, in the first of at least eight fixtures in April, Josep Guardiola’s side secured a narrow 1-0  win over Eintracht Frankfurt courtesy of a spectacular overhead kick from Franck Ribéry. However, it was far from a spectacular performance from the Bavarians, with club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge admitting: "The quality we showed today won't be enough on Tuesday [against Benfica] - that's clear."

Wolfsburg defender Marcel Schäfer on facing Real Madrid:


Last season we worked our asses off to make it into the Champions League. Now we have made history for the club by reaching the quarter-finals, and we're playing one of the world's best teams. When you think that 20 or 25 years ago you were watching Real Madrid on TV, and now you've got the chance to play against them, it is a fantastic challenge. We know we only have a very small chance, but you go onto the pitch to be successful, and that's what we want to do against Real as well. We have nothing to lose.

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More from Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué ahead of the first-leg tie:


We're crazy excited to play tomorrow. I am convinced that we will see the Barça that comes to play on big nights and we want to show people why we've won everything and that we want to again.

What we really like are the challenges that are ahead of us. When you take the field and see who is on your team you have no doubt. We have a great challenge to win back-to-back trebles and we're going to go for it.

I have no doubts about the game. I'm really convinced we will win, and we will do everything we can go to the final. We have some of the best players in the world, so we have confidence.We don't need to be warned. Year after year we have seen that this is a very difficult competition. We know how difficult it is to try and win all the matches.

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Saturday's defeat has not dented Barcelona spirits going into the UEFA Champions League ...

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Late blow for Barcelona as right-back Aleix Vidal is ruled out of tomorrow's clash against Atlético ...

Luis Enrique, Barcelona coach:


We have played against Atlético a few times in the last couple of years but we need to analyse them and be open-minded because they may play differently this time. They are a top team with a clear philosophy; they are dangerous on the counter and pressure up high.

The [Liga] game against Real Madrid [on Saturday] was good for 65 minutes. Of course we made mistakes, but that is normal when your opponents are a quality team. We are not machines and I'm satisfied with what I saw. We had almost forgotten how it felt to lose, but I hope it will be motivation for us to get back on a winning streak again.

[Atlético] have amazing individual quality with [Antoine] Griezmann and [Fernando] Torres. They have many ways of causing us trouble and can hurt us on set pieces and transitions.

Juanfran, Atlético defender:


Friendly matches, pre-season matches, league matches or Champions League matches … our aim is always to win, and give everything we have for the shirt we wear. The Champions League is different. It's something special, and it's something we've not been able to win before. So let's hope, and I'm convinced that sooner or later we will win the Champions League.

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Captain Philipp Lahm insists that Tuesday's match against Benfica will be a completely different game to the narrow success against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. "We'll be perfectly prepared," he said. "We need a better performance on Tuesday, but I'm not worrying about that." The 2013 UEFA Champions League winner has good reason to be confident with Bayern on a ten-match winning streak in the competition at the Fußball Arena München.

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Benfica have just landed in Munich, where they will face Bayern. Coach Rui Vitória took a 21-man squad to Germany for the first-leg clash, including Argentinian central-defender Lisandro López (thigh), who has been sidelined since the end of January.

Ahead of the quarter-final tie, A Bola asked former Eagles and FCB goalkeeper Hans-Jorg Butt to share his thoughts on the fixture. "Bayern are big favourites, but they cannot take Benfica lightly," he told the daily. "Benfica have plenty of quality players. Some of those might not be big names in European football yet, but they will be in the future. The fact that the return will be in Lisbon might be good for Benfica."

One of the greatest Bulgarian players of his generation, Krasimir Balakov has shared his thoughts on this week's action with UEFA.com ...

Bayern v Benfica
I expect Bayern will go through. Benfica play some great football, but Bayern are too good.

Barcelona v Atlético
This is without doubt the most interesting quarter-final for me in terms of tactical approach, especially from Atleti coach Diego Simeone. Many believe Barcelona will win comfortably, but I am sure it won’t be easy at all for them. I still think Barcelona will go through, but it will be very complicated encounter.

Paris v Manchester City
Anthing is possible in this encounter. Both teams have some great attacking players who are capable of scoring goals anytime. It is impossible to predict this tie.

Wolfsburg v Real Madrid
Real Madrid are always the favourites. Wolfsburg are a very interesting side, the German team is capable of producing a truly great performance. I hope to see as many German sides as possible progress, but here I expect Madrid to go through.

Bayern need only look towards the first leg of last season’s quarter-final tie against Porto for a reminder not to be complacent against the Portuguese league leaders Benfica on Tuesday night. The Bavarian side were beaten 3-1 in Portugal at this stage of the competition in 2014/15 and will be keen to avoid a repeat. "They are a good team; they’re among the best eight sides in Europe. You don’t get there for no reason," said Philipp Lahm.

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Bayern winger Kingsley Coman resumed training today after missing Saturday's Bundesliga win against Frankfurt ...

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It's almost exactly two years since Atlético eliminated Barcelona from the UEFA Champions League en route to the Lisbon final. As Diego Simeone prepares to try and emulate that feat, he could well have watched Barça's defeat by Real Madrid and seen some encouraging signs – despite the fact his side have lost to the Azulgrana six times on the bounce. For Luis Enrique, the challenge is to help his team freshen up mentally and physically just three days after their epic winning run was ended in the Clásico.

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"So many things have changed since I left those clubs," former Paris academy product and Manchester City defender Sylvain Distin told the PSG website. "Today, they are similar in the way they have evolved."

Asked whether the French side are favourites, Distin added: "We may think they are better than City because they are too strong for Ligue 1, but we should be careful: the Premier League is a much harder competition.

"The key for City is to stay compact and defend better than they have done so far. Considering their attacking options, if they manage to stay strong defensively, they can create a lot of problems to Paris."

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Coming up shortly, Bayern trio Josep Guardiola, Manuel Neuer and Douglas Costa will be speaking at a news conference in the build up to their quarter-final tie ...

Marcel Schäfer, Wolfsburg left-back:


[Wolves coach] Dieter Hecking has done a great job since he came here [in 2012], working closely with sporting director Klaus Allofs. They've put together a really great squad.

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Diego Godín, Atlético defender:


I worked hard so I could return as soon as possible [following a thigh injury] and be fit for tomorrow. I’m 100% ready for tomorrow.

Lionel Messi is decisive no matter where he plays. But their team is not based on only one player, so we don’t just need to stop Messi. We need to stop their entire team.

[Antoine] Griezmann is getting more and more decisive for us. He gives us variation, he can play anywhere and he can decide any game.

I really look forward to this game and I would love to win this tie. We are all thrilled about playing in this competition. We are in a different place compared to the matches we played against them two years ago in the Champions League. Today everything is different, It's just another challenge and we are really looking forward to this challenge.

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Diego Simeone, Atlético coach:


Both teams know each other very well. so I don't think there is much room for surprise. They play a specific type of football and they play spectacular well under Luis Enrique.

I don't think Barcelona's [Liga] defeat by Real Madrid [on Saturday] will affect our game. We always expect the best of Barcelona. They will definitely be up for it, playing at home. They are strong, tough opponents.

We are used to seeing the 'MSN' [strike force], with all the individual qualities that make Barcelona even better. Hopefully they will face the best of us as well. It is important that all my players understand that one minute on the pitch will be a lifetime.

[Stefan] Savić [returning after six weeks out] is a great marker. He has good timing and reads the game well. He scores goals and has been developing his consistency this season. He has learned how to play with us.

Manuel Neuer, Bayern goalkeeper:


It is not just about their strikers. We have analysed their style and we have tried to understand how they usually play against stronger opponents. Perhaps on paper we are the favourites, but Benfica have a strong attack and they also deserve to to be in the quarter-finals. I expect them to try to score [the away goal]. We have to watch out for Jonas and [Kostas] Mitroglou, they have scored 48 [league] goals between them this season.

Josep Guardiola, Bayern coach:


I am Bayern coach and we always want to be the best but I really don't think we are the favourites going into this. Benfica are playing very well at the moment and I have to admit I am very impressed how well.

Their stats are very good. They know exactly what to do, they know how to read the game. [Kostas] Mitroglou and Jonas are very strong and in the box they have lots of quality.

But we are Bayern, and Bayern are always considered favourites. I have lots of respect for them and for Portuguese football. Remember what happened last year in Porto ...

First and foremost I want a happy Franck Ribéry. I have seen him laughing a lot over the past two weeks. We have missed him a lot over the last two years. It is great to have him back to his best.

More from Bayern boss Josep Guardiola:


For the people of Munich I understand and accept that only the treble will do. If we don't win it, I know for many people it is simply not good enough. But there are many other quality teams. The most important thing is that we give it our best shot.

Coming up shortly, we will be hearing from Benfica trio André Almeida, Kostas Mitroglu and Rui Vitória ...

Atlético prepare to face a Liga rival for the third season running ...

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André Almeida, Benfica defender:


I think [Josep] Guardiola is right. Our defence is strong. The whole team has played well and we are not in the quarter-finals for nothing. I don't think it is that important who are the favourites, both teams deserve to compete at this stage.

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Rui Vitória, Benfica coach:


From a tactical point of view, Bayern are on another level. The style is almost second nature now. They know how to adapt to every situation during a game. We need to stay focused and play as a team as much as possible.
 
In the Champions League we are just taking it one game at a time – that has got us this far. We have no fears. We have analysed our opponents and they are a strong team, but we will give our all to get a good result here in Munich.

I would like to win the game – I want to win every game – but I know how difficult it will be.

We have belief. We will play with enthusiasm, with spirit and desire. And we want to enjoy it. I want my team to have fun.

Bayern fought back from 2-0 down in Munich against Juventus in the round of 16, but Josep Guardiola will be hoping for a more straightforward home victory on Tuesday. Benfica know they will need to tame Bayern's free-scoring attack if they are to have any chance going into the return leg in Lisbon next week.

Stefan Savić limped out of Atlético Madrid training tonight so Lucas Hernández, 20, could make his first UEFA Champions League start against Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar on Tuesday.

The Marseille-born centre-back has made only 12 professional appearances, and made his European bow as a second-half substitute in the shoot-out victory against PSV Eindhoven three weeks ago.

LucasLucas, summer 2015

Benfica may have had half an eye on events at home on Monday on a mixed night for their title rivals - it could now be a two-horse race.

Sporting CP closed back to two points of the Portuguese Liga leaders after an impressive 5-2 win at Belenenses, but Porto are nine adrift after slumping to a shock defeat by bottom side Tondela. There are six games remaining.

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The UEFA Champions League takes centre stage on the front of L'Equipe this morning. The French daily investigates the relationship between coach Laurent Blanc and talisman Zlatan Ibrahimović on the eve of Paris Saint-Germain's quarter-final first leg at home to Manchester City. The newspaper describes it as a "trusted relationship that never stopped growing". The pair have won every trophy going in France – with Ibrahimović becoming the club's all-time leading scorer in the process – and the UEFA Champions League remains the ultimate goal for both.

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Only one game is on everyone's lips in the Spanish capital today: Atlético's huge clash with Barcelona. The front cover of today's Madrid-based sports newspaper Marca carries picture of Diego Simeone, declaring his Atlético side as "the worst opponent at the worst possible time" for Barça following their Clásico defeat on Saturday. Simeone set his stall high in his pre-match press conference, saying "a good result at the Camp Nou is to win" and that is exactly what he will be trying to do this evening. Inside the paper, it says the Catalan outfit’s frontline - Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar - are desperate to make amends for their 'ineffective' display at the weekend.

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Today's Barcelona-based Diario Sport, meanwhile, focuses on Gerard Piqué's pre-match press conference and declare him "the spokesman" for the club. He heaped the praise on Atlético, as do Sport inside. They feel Luis Enrique will go with the same lineup that faced Real Madrid at the weekend, who they say will be determined to 'prove a point' against the side who have proven to be their closest rivals in the fight for the Liga title this campaign.

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Gerard Piqué, Barcelona:


We will try to decide the tie in the first leg, especially after what happened on Saturday [against Real Madrid]. We will do the best we can and score as many goals as possible.

It is always a challenge after a loss. We want to play again quickly, especially against a rival like Atlético. We want to prove that we are still the team that has won everything. We want to win it all again that.

In terms of morale, Saturday's defeat was a defeat like any other. We hadn't lost for 39 games, but sometimes this happens in football. We are ready again and have a unique opportunity to set the bar high again.


Atlético have had a spectacular season, so it's going be more complicated than Saturday. They know how to defend and are really good on the counter. It all boils down to how we play. We want the ball, to pass it around quickly. And we want the fans to support us at they did on Saturday. If they do that, we will be unstoppable.

We don't need to be warned about the size of our task. Year after year we have seen that this is a very difficult competition but we are going to try to win the treble again. It's a brutal challenge but we are give all we have to do it again.

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Bayern and Lisbon giants Benfica have met in three previous ties – and not only have the German champions won them all, they have gone on to reach at least the final of the competition on every occasion.

The sides were first paired in the quarter-finals of the 1975/76 European Champion Clubs' Cup, a goalless first leg in Lisbon preceding Bayern's 5-1 win in Munich in which Bernd Dürnberger and Gerd Müller each scored twice and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge got the other Bayern goal. Bayern went on to defeat St-Étienne 1-0 in the final at Hampden Park, Glasgow – therefore claiming the trophy for the third year in a row.

It was a similar story when the teams met again in the 1981/82 European Cup second round, the first leg in Lisbon again ending scoreless. Once again Bayern ran out comfortable victors at home, thanks mainly to a Dieter Hoeness hat-trick. Paul Breitner got the other in a 4-1 victory. Again Bayern progressed to the final, although this time they missed out on the trophy, going down 1-0 to Aston Villa in Rotterdam.

Jürgen Klinsmann was the standout performer the last time the teams' paths crossed, in the 1995/96 UEFA Cup third round. The striker scored all four goals in Bayern's 4-1 home first-leg victory, then added two more in a 3-1 Lisbon success with Andreas Herzog contributing the other.

Bayern went on to the final and beat Bordeaux 5-1 over two legs. Klinsmann finished with 15 goals for the season.

Wolfsburg playmaker Julian Draxler appears to be a fan of Real Madrid No7 Cristiano Ronaldo. "Look at the way he's played at such a high level for so many years and scores such incredible goals," said Draxler, in an interview with sports news agency SID. "Obviously you would try to emulate a player like him."

The 22-year-old World Cup winner is confident of causing an upset against the Spanish giants: "Naturally, everything needs to click for us. Real Madrid are clearly the favourites but we have a good chance as the underdog if we produce our best performance."

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Tonight's game against Benfica is a milestone for Bayern manager Josep Guardiola - it's his 150th as manager of the German outfit. In his 149 games to date, he has recorded 115 wins, 14 draws and suffered only 20 losses.

Bayern can still complete a treble - league, domestic cup and UEFA Champions League - and Guardiola understands that only success will do for their fans. "For the people of Munich I understand and accept that only the treble will do," he said. "If we don't win it, I know for many people it is simply not good enough. But there are many other quality teams. The most important thing is that we give it our best shot."

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Samir Nasri, a notable omission from Manchester City's UEFA Champions League squad, spoke to L'Équipe ahead of the Premier League outfit's tie in France. "Paris are the favourites," he said. "We have a lot of injured players. Paris also have the experience from their recent quarter-finals [PSG are in the last eight for the fourth year in a row, having lost to Barcelona in 2013 and 2015 and Chelsea in 2014]."

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Bayern captain Philipp Lahm is confident but cautious going into the clashes with Benfica. "They're a good team and among the best eight in Europe - you don't get there by accident," he told the club's website. He continued: "We're the favourites and if we play to the best of our ability, we'll progress."

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Croatian newspaper 24sata claims that Ivan Rakitić will be the key man for the Spanish champions this evening. Since Rakitić signed for the Liga giants in 2014, Barcelona have won the past six meetings against Atlético. Before the midfielder joined Luis Enrique's side they had gone six consecutive matches without a victory against Diego Simeone's charges. Will the Barça No4 maintain his winning run against Atleti?

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Despite having a wealth of attacking options at his disposal – even without the injured Arjen Robben – Josep Guardiola has had to cope with numerous defensive injuries this season and will welcome Javi Martínez's return to fitness ahead of tonight's match. The Spain international played 90 minutes as part of a back three alongside David Alaba and Juan Bernat last time out in the Bundesliga and is contention for a start tonight.

"Javi Martínez is fit," said the Bayern coach. "He has a great mentality, he can play with one leg."

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"More goals than Messi and Ronaldo" says the headline of Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung this morning, referring to Benfica forward Jonas. The marksman has scored more league strikes this term (30) than Cristiano Ronaldo (29) or Lionel Messi (22). Can Bayern stop the in-form striker?

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Barcelona-based football newspaper Diario Sport focuses on the slightly mystifying fact that Atlético's most consistently free-scoring striker, Antoine Griezmann has yet to notch a goal against Barcelona for Los Rojiblancos. The Frenchman has played Barça 16 times and whenever he scored against them for Real Sociedad it signified either a point or a victory for his ex-team. But his six matches against Luis Enrique's Barcelona have yielded six defeats and no goals. Yet. Sport identifies him as: "The danger for Barça" this evening.

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In something of a barnstorming press conference yesterday Barcelona's no3, Gerard Piqué, made various predictions including that Barça would go on to win the title irrespective of the painful Clásico defeat to Real Madrid ahead of this UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie with Atlético. One of his other predictions has already come true in that he said rain was forecast for Tuesday and the day is wet, cold, grey and most un-Barcelona-like for this time of year. Piqué's point wasn't to show off meteorological prowess but to demand that the Camp Nou fans turn out in numbers, irrespective of the climate, to boost the European champions' performance. 

DID YOU KNOW?

Real Madrid No1 Keylor Navas has kept eight clean sheets in as many appearances in the UEFA Champions League and sits behind only former Arsenal goalkeepr Jens Lehmann (853) in number of minutes played without conceding in the competition.

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Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart resumed training this morning ahead of Wednesday's quarter-final first leg against Paris. The England international has been out since 20 March after suffering a calf injury against Manchester United in the Premier League.

Fabian Delph (ankle) also took part but Yaya Touré (knee and heel) missed the session. Vincent Kompany (calf) and Raheem Sterling (groin) remain sidelined.

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Benfica forward Jonas has managed 18 goals in 16 appearances in all competitions this calendar year. Bayern will need to be wary of the Brazilian and his strike partner Kostas Mitroglou ...

Bayern and Benfica have met three times on the European stage, with the Munich side beating their opponents either 4-1 or 5-1 on each of the three home ties. The Bavarians progressed the final of the competition on each occasion, which will no doubt be a good omen to Josep Guardiola and the Bayern fans, for whom domestic success alone is simply no longer enough.

Spain's biggest selling football daily feature a lovely moody picture of Atléti's Argentinian coach, Diego 'El Cholo' Simeone with an old-style leather football. Marca reckon that despite Luis Enrique's Spanish champions beating Atleti in each of their last six meetings that the Madrid side are 'the worst rival at the worst time' - indicating that Atleti are hard to play against, very hard to score against and that Barça, the sports newspaper reckons, are a bit damaged by losing to Real Madrid at the weekend. Time will tell.

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Paris are in the quarter-finals for the fourth year in a row, but the Ligue 1 side 'want more reasons to celebrate' on Wednesday ...

Youri Djorkaeff, who won the 1996 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in his only season with Paris, believe his boyhood club has what it takes to reach the last four of the UEFA Champions League this season. "I think that Paris is ready to go past the quarter-finals," he told the PSG website. "It's a very important game, but it's one the club must do everything to win.

"Paris's European future depends on this quarter-final against City. Paris must go through and send a strong message to the rest of Europe."

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Zlatan Ibrahimović on Paris's upcoming quarter-final against Manchester City:


I am coming into the quarter-finals very relaxed. The game is obviously pretty important for everybody – for me, for the club, for the city, for the country – but I am pretty relaxed and confident. I feel fresh – physically I feel good, very focused and confident.

I try to collect as many [titles] as possible. This is what the game is about – collecting trophies.  At the end of your career when you look back you will count all the trophies that you won. I have a couple of them, so I am not complaining.

They are a good team, a very good team. They have had a lot of success in the years since the project began and they have fantastic individual players. I played with Yaya Touré [at Barcelona]. I like him, I like him a lot. And then you have [David] Silva, [Sergio] Agüero – the whole team is strong. You don't watch out for one [particular player], you need to watch out for the team.

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Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart (out since 20 March, calf) resumed training this morning ...

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Laurent Blanc, Paris coach:


I have excellent memories of Manchester from when I was playing for Manchester United. We used to drive by the City training ground on the way to ours, but it's no longer there, I think. The city itself has transformed a lot. It used to be very post-industrial, but it has flourished into quite a charming place now. On the sporting front, City are reducing their deficit to United and becoming a great club again – let's not forget they were strong in the 1970s.

They say experience can make the difference in ties such as this and that all details count. After the draw, some were relieved and said it was a good one for us, as we had avoided the two giants, Barcelona and Bayern. I strongly warned my players not to listen to them. Those who say that don't understand anything about football. We'll be confronted by a team with quality and quality in depth – their squad overall has much more quality than ours. These will be two difficult and delicate games.

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See how Atlético beat Barcelona in the last eight in 2014

Watch the highlights of Atlético's quarter-final tie with Barcelona two years ago. Can they get the better of their Liga rivals again this year?

Last time out, Franck Ribéry returned to his brilliant best, Mario Götze played 84 minutes, Douglas Costa was rested and Kingsley Coman sat out due to injury against Frankfurt on Saturday. With all four wingers fit and available tonight, Bayern coach Josep Guardiola has the tricky task of deciding who will support Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski in attack.

Costa is a consistent performer on either wing and he has started all seven of Bayern's matches in the competition this term, while Ribéry's experience and superb display on the weekend may earn him his place on the left. Götze has been seemingly out-of-favour in the bigger games when fit, but scored in each of Bayern's first two UEFA Champions League matches this season. Fellow Frenchman Coman may have to settle for a place on the bench again, Guardiola opted to use him as an impact substitute against Juventus in the round of 16.

Paris go into their fourth consecutive quarter-final quietly confident of taking the next step for the first time in 21 years, especially after getting the better of Manchester City's Premier League rivals Chelsea in the last round. Enjoying prolific form, evergreen forward Zlatan Ibrahimović showed his hunger in that tie, but the French side will need to beware world-class predator Sergio Agüero and the dynamic input of fit-again Kevin De Bruyne – even if City do have key men missing.

Maxwell, Paris defender:


We want to go through; we will do everything to qualify. In a match like this, it's dangerous to be optimistic. We must remain grounded.

Sergio Agüero is magnificent, I love him as a player. He's reminds me of Romário (pictured) from Brazil - short and strong with tons of quality. We  must not give him any space.

It's almost exactly two years since Atlético eliminated Barcelona from the UEFA Champions League en route to the Lisbon final. As Diego Simeone prepares to try and emulate that feat, he could well have watched Barça's defeat by Real Madrid and seen some encouraging signs – despite the fact his side have lost to the Azulgrana six times on the bounce. For Luis Enrique, the challenge is to help his team freshen up mentally and physically just three days after their epic unbeaten run was ended in the Clásico.

Coming up shortly, Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking and midfielder Vieirinha will be discussing Wednesday's tie against Real Madrid ...

Dani Carvajal, Real Madrid defender:


[The Wolfsburg fans] will fill the ground early, I’m sure of that, they're going to be on top of the game. We have to raise above all this and try to put in a big performance and think that it's just 11 against 11 and try to win.

It's a difficult ground to play at, they pressure a lot. They usually press you very high up. I'm sure it will be an uncomfortable match.

It's very important to not concede goals. Against Roma [in the round of 16] we were able to keep clean sheets in both games. The only one where we conceded was against Shakhtar [on matchday five] in a strange 20 minutes. This is the key to the Champions League: if you don't concede, you have half a foot in the next round.

At the moment we're thinking about this tie, and it's going to be difficult. It’s not just any team that makes it to the quarter-finals. We'll try to do our best to be in the semi-finals, one step away from the final in Milan.

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Josep Guardiola, Bayern coach:


I am Bayern coach and we always want to be the best but I really don't think we are the favourites going into this. Benfica are playing very well at the moment and I have to admit I am very impressed.

Their stats are very good. They know exactly what to do, they know how to read the game. [Kostas] Mitroglou and Jonas are very strong and in the box they have lots of quality.

But we are Bayern, and Bayern are always considered favourites. I have lots of respect for them and for Portuguese football. Remember what happened last year in Porto ....

Rui Vitória, Benfica coach:


From a tactical point of view, Bayern are on another level. The style is almost second nature now. They know how to adapt to every situation during a game. We need to stay focused and play as a team as much as possible.

In the Champions League we are just taking it one game at a time – that has got us this far. We have no fears. We have analysed our opponents and they are a strong team, but we will give our all to get a good result here in Munich.

I would like to win the game – I want to win every game – but I know how difficult it will be. We have belief. We will play with enthusiasm, with spirit and desire. And we want to enjoy it. I want my team to have fun.

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DID YOU KNOW?

In the quarter-finals for the ninth season in a row, Barcelona recorded their tenth successive UEFA Champions League home win with a 3-1 defeat of Arsenal in the round of 16 second leg. The last team to avoid UEFA Champions League defeat at Barcelona was Atlético in 2013/14 ...

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With Laurent Blanc confirming that neither Marco Verratti nor Javier Pastore will be fit to face Manchester City on Wednesday, Adrien Rabiot will get another chance to shine in Paris's midfield. The 21-year-old, who scored away against Chelsea in the last 16 – and spent six months in City's academy in 2008 – is one of the brightest young prospects in French football, proving he belongs at this level after pushing for a loan move due to a lack of playing time earlier this season.
 
"Since he's come into the team because of Marco's injury, he's done well," explained fellow midfielder Thiago Motta at the weekend. "Adrien knows what he's capable of. It's up to him to understand what the team needs, but also up to us to help him raise his game. He's a different player to Marco – a more physical player who can score goals. We lose a little with Marco's absence but we gain something different with Adrien."

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Vieirinha, Wolfsburg midfielder:


[Portugal team-mate] Cristiano Ronaldo is like a friend to me, he is a very helpful and a nice human being. To stop the greatest player on the planet won't be easy and you can't do it on your own. We have to do it as a team.

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The scene at the Parc des Princes, which will host Paris's home leg against Manchester City on Wednesday ...

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Dieter Hecking, Wolfsburg coach:


Motivation won't be a problem tomorrow. We have a big chance to perform on a great stage. Nobody thought we could get this far. But in the end I still say: "This must not be the end for us." We will look for our opportunity, even with this draw, and if we beat Real it would be one of the biggest sensations. So this is what we want to begin tomorrow.

Since we were drawn against Real Madrid, we've been really excited. But is it the biggest match in our club's history? I think there have been other great games, though maybe this is the one with the most attention. It is extraordinary for every one of us and we want to demonstrate why we are still in this competition.

Real Madrid have a great squad with top-class players. They are one of the favourites for the title and one of the top clubs in Europe. But we will try to annoy them and I think my team can do that. It won't be enough to just stop [Cristiano] Ronaldo.

I don't know right now if [centre-back] Naldo will be able to play. We have to talk to the doctor and also the player. He wants to play, but now it's up to me if I trust him. I don't share the speculation that he will definitely play.

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The scene at the Camp Nou just over three hours before Barcelona's first-leg tie against Liga rivals Atlético ...

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Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid coach:

 

There might be changes in the starting eleven. It'll be a tough match against Wolfsburg, but we are well prepared. We handle the match like a final, because every match is important in this competition.

We can not relax, the win against Barcelona is already forgotten. We are in good shape and the team is very concentrated – this is the most important thing for me. It's getting more and more difficult round by round. If we are working as a team we can win titles.

Wolfsburg fought hard to be here and deserve to be in this round. Even if they have some problems in the Bundesliga, this is a completely different competition and they will have another motivation here. Sergio Ramos is close to his top-level after some injuries. He is the captain and one of the most important players in this team.

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Head over to the UEFA Champions League MatchCentre now for all the build-up for tonight’s quarter-final first legs as Barcelona welcome Liga rivals Atlético Madrid to the Camp Nou while Benfica travel to Bavaria to face Bayern München. It promises to be a thrilling start to this week’s first-‘leg ties before Wolfsburg take on Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain host Manchester City tomorrow evening. Team news and reaction to follow ...

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An early goal from Arturo Vidal proved enough for Bayern to record a slender win at home to Benfica in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg, although their failure to add to that lead leaves the tie in the balance ...

Meanwhile, Luis Suárez scored two second-half goals as Barcelona came from behind to maintain their recent hex over an Atlético side reduced to ten men early on ...

'In conquest', is the front-page headline on L'Équipe this morning as Paris set out to crush Manchester City at Parc des Princes. Under a picture of Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Thiago Motta and David Luiz, the daily writes: "PSG are aiming to strike a blow to the Citizens tonight and take a step towards the semi-finals."

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'Warrior with brains', is Münchner Tageszeitung's headline today, a reference to Arturo Vidal's nickname, after the Chilean headed the only goal in Bayern's victory over Benfica. "He covered every blade of grass on the pitch," the paper writes, adding: "The midfielder is known as the warrior by fans but he is more than just an exceptionally gifted fighter. He also plays with his head."

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Dante used a rather colourful phrase to explain to Spanish radio station Cadena Cope how Wolfsburg will need courage when they face Real Madrid tonight. "We will have to work and run a lot and when we are in possession, we must have the [rude word] to play football," the Brazilian central defender said. Dante rated his team's chances of advancing to the last four at a measly "2%", but insisted he and his team-mates would be giving their all regardless. "I told my team-mates that we have to enjoy this, that we need to be fully switched on at all times and to win every individual duel if we want to beat Real Madrid," the former Bayern man said. "This is a difficult mission but we are going to fight until the last."

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As usual in Sweden, all eyes are on Paris's Zlatan Ibrahimović. Dagens Nyheter football writer Anders Sännås Lundqvist writes in Wednesday's paper: "A month ago, [Ibrahimović] sank Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the round of 16. Now comes the second wave of attack against English opposition. Manchester City, in a down period and with a shaky back line, will experience all kinds of problems when in-form Ibra takes the fight inside their box."

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Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said that Luis Suárez is "half-Catalan" and added that Atlético sending-off changed game last night:


To play against Atlético, you have to be very precise and have good tempo, positioning and ball control. Maybe we didn't have that in the first half. Atlético created a very good chance in the first half and, combined with our mistake, it enabled them to score.

The [Fernando Torres] sending-off changed the game. At half-time we tried to talk about controlling the pace and attacking Atlético as a team rather than individually. In the second half the fans enjoyed themselves, I think. We managed to keep Atlético close to their box.

I'm happy with the performanace and happy to win again. Some people, not in the team obviously, could perhaps have been scared [when we went 1-0 down] but these players have a lot of confidence. We are looking forward to playing at the Calderón.

Since I got here we have always thought one game at a time. We want to win at the Calderón and that's the only result that's good for us. With this attitude and these players we can go anywhere.

We thought we had lost Rafinha for the season [when he got injured at Roma in September] but the medical team here is top-class. It is marvellous we can count on him again. He can score goals, control the ball and play in tight spaces. Having him back was, apart from the win, the highlight of the night.

It was difficult for Suárez tonight, because he was always playing against two centre-backs. That is why it was important for our players on the wing to stay out wide. Suárez brings a work-rate and character to this team – not just goals. He has integrated himself in a special way. You could say he is half-Catalan.

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Atlético coach Diego Simeone hailed his team's spirit after Tuesday's 2-1 loss at Barcelona ...


I feel proud of my players and I'm happy to work with a team that give their lives in every game. They can come back from any situation. Any trees in the way, they try to jump over. They don't look for excuses.

We played really well until the sending-off. Of course Barcelona had lots of chances in the second half and they cornered us in our area. It was difficult to get out. My players are really strong. They want to keep defending this shirt.

We are alive. They had their chances and they could perhaps have scored more, but they didn't so that generates some expectations and gives hope to us and the fans who will come to the stadium next week.

We always feel strong. We will try to give everything and all the players will give their best. It is very difficult to reach the semi-finals, but we will give it our all. We will probably feel this extra effort from today on Saturday.

When I see the lads in the dressing room, they are all happy to play for this team. We need to find the best way to make the most of what we have done so far.

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Barcelona's two-goal hero, Luis Suárez said he felt "pure joy" when he first equalised and then won this UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg for the holders against Atlético ...

Filipe Luís, Atlético full-back:


It's not easy playing against Barça in the Champions League in any situation, whether with ten men or not. At half-time the manager [Diego Simeone] told us we had to produce an epic display to win, but also to stay calm because there would be the second leg. We had the chances to win it in the second half but we also spent a lot of time in our own area, which meant a lot of opportunities for them. Fortunately they only scored twice because it could have been more – and we are still alive. It will be very difficult to go through, very difficult.

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Josep Guardiola called scorer Arturo Vidal "a great character" and Franck Ribéry "extraordinary" after Bayern won 1-0 against Benfica on Tuesday:


It was a hard game but I am happy with our performance. I know very well the quality that Benfica have. A big compliment to my team.

[Franck] Ribéry was extraordinary today. Vidal is very important too – he is a great character, he has shown this during the last month.

In the quarter-finals the more important game is always the second leg, which we will play in Lisbon. It all depends on how we play in Lisbon. We could have lost this game. I have watched a lot of Benfica matches in recent days – they are really strong, they always try to get the second ball.

I was not surprised about their game, it is not easy to play them. They are good from set pieces. But we had some really good chances to score more goals.

Of course we want to win in Lisbon now. We want to score one or two goals there. There are no favourites – favourites are normally the team with the better stats but this does not count for anything. It all depends on the match next week in Portugal.

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Benfica coach Rui Vitória was "proud" despite first-leg defeat in Germany:


The game went as we expected. I am proud of my players – we played really well here. Of course we had our problems but in the end we played quite well. Of course I am not too happy with the result, but overall we played really well and we followed our strategy.

Four or five thousand fans from Benfica were here. They were very important for us, so thanks to the fans – I was very happy to have them here. Next week we will have around 60,000 behind us. We are looking forward to it.

To concede an early goal here wasn't in the plan. But nevertheless we played well and that early goal did not kill our confidence. We were able to cause some problems for Bayern and we might even have deserved a goal. Everything is still open, we have a second match next week and we will give it our best again.

I guess we did not surprise our opponents, but probably the Bayern fans. I guess they expected clear dominance and more goals from their team.

Of course we will miss Jonas [suspended for the second leg], but another player will get his chance. It is not about indviiduals, it is all about the team.

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"In the quarter-finals, the second leg is always the more important game," Bayern München coach Josep Guardiola explained after his side's 1-0 success against Benfica left everything open for the return fixture in Lisbon.

It was the Bundesliga leaders' third consecutive 1-0 win in all competitions – the hallmark of champions, some say – with Thomas Müller noting: "If we keep winning 1-0, we will go through." That optimism was shared by team-mate Manuel Neuer. "It's a good result," said the goalkeeper. "It is in our hands."

However, it was a far from convincing display by Guardiola's men. For the first time this season, the German titleholders failed to score more than once at home in the UEFA Champions League, though the coach put a brave face on it. "It was a hard game but I am happy with our performance," he said. "I was not surprised by their game; they are not easy to play against."

Bayern, though, maintain an advantage, however slender. "It would have been better if we had scored more, but we didn't concede," Arturo Vidal told UEFA.com. "That's important when you're at home."

Bayern are not a side that goes out to defend leads and with Benfica needing a win the return leg promises to be a more open encounter than the first. "Of course, we want to win in Lisbon," Guardiola said. "We want to score one or two goals there."

Just as he did before Tuesday's match, the Bayern coach insisted "there are no favourites" going into next week's deciding contest. Given that the first leg was a lot closer that many predicted, perhaps he is right.

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Eliaquim Mangala, Manchester City defender:


I feel well, I was injured a long time but now I am back to play last three games and I trained well so physically I feel very well feel confident and happy to play.

I respect PSG, I respect Zlatan [Ibrahimović], [Edinson] Cavani and [Ángel] Di María, but I am not scared of them. Everyone knows Zlatan and the magnificent career and season he has had even though he is 34 he is in top condition at the moment. He has been criticised a lot because he has not been decisive in the Champions League in the past but he has been in the last few games. He is reaching the peak of his career now, but we are not just focusing on him.

They have the experience of being in a quarter-final before and we need to respect their experience but they are not a threat to us. It will be a close game.

David Alaba, Bayern defender:


We wanted to concentrate on defending. Benfica launch long balls up to their strikers, but we dealt with it well and put in some good work defensively. The balance was okay. Benfica stretched the game out so there was a lot of space between the lines. That's not so easy to deal with. We've kept a clean sheet and that was our target. Our aim was to win. It would definitely have been a lot more comfortable if we'd have scored a second or third goal.

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Jonas, Benfica forward:


It not easy to play here. Bayern always have lots of possession, so we had some issues dealing with that. But as time went by we were able to create some chances to score. I had one when I got past [David] Alaba. Unfortunately, I was not able to score, but we showed that we have what it takes. We could have left with a better result but the tie is open. At home, in front of our fans, we have the ability to score goals and hopefully reach the next round.

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Ederson, Benfica goalkeeper:


The entire team did well, it was not just me. We showed that we were ready to battle. Now we will have the [return] match in Lisbon - that will be decisive.

Hear from Luis Suárez and Josep Guardiola as our panel – host Rob Daly, Chris Parrott, Richard Kaufman and Mark Scott – review Tuesday's UEFA Champions League quarter-final first legs and preview Wednesday's action in the official podcast. You can download the podcast from iTunes.

"Bayern brilliance lasts just 109 seconds," says Bild this morning, lamenting the performance of Josep Guardiola’s side after they failed to build on their early lead against Benfica. However, unlike other newspapers, the Bild reporters remain positive.  After all, every time the teams have met, FCB have gone on to reach at least the final of the competition.

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"There is a light" Portuguese sports newspaper O Jogo declares this morning, hailing Benfica's first-leg performance against Bayern which has left the tie open going into the return at the Estádio da Luz (Stadium of Light). "Vidal scored after just two minutes, but Ederson saved the rest and the Eagles made sure they will have a say at home," the daily adds.

Meanwhile, A Bola says "Benfica postponed the decision of the tie against Bayern," before highlighting one negative aspect from the first meeting: "Jonas will be out of the second leg" after being booked in Munich.

Finally, Record notes that Eagles goalkeeper "Ederson was a giant in goal and Jonas - who will miss the second leg through suspension - had two clear chances to score."

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The Süddeutsche Zeitung was critical of Bayern after their narrow win over Benfica. "Bayern lacked inspiration for 88 minutes," the daily claims, with the German side having gone ahead in the second minute. "Sometimes a 1-0 win has to do. We will head to Lisbon fully aware that everything is still to play for," Manuel Neuer is quoted as saying. The Munich-based newspaper also adds that the result still hangs in the balance. "Taking the lead after two minutes suggested that it would be an easy route to the semi-finals. That is now not the case as the team failed to improve their position."

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"If Paris put pressure on Manchester City, they will suffer," according to Luis Fernández, the man who guided Paris to their only European trophy - the 1996 UEFA Cup winners cup. Speaking to L'Équipe, he added: "City have lost 13 games this season - their backline is their weakness."

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Real Madrid's players were understandably euphoric following their 2-1 weekend victory against Liga rivals Barcelona. Coming from behind to earn a notable win in a Clásico while ending Barça's 39-game unbeaten run in the process was a feat worthy of praise.

Undoubtedly caught up in the emotion of it all, Madrid attacker Jesé spoke gleefully to the media shortly after the game. "If we continue along this path we could well go on to win the Champions League," the Canary Islander said. When Jesé's words were repeated to Sergio Ramos, however, the Madrid captain offered a tempered response. "In this game, you have to keep your feet on the ground," he said. "We haven't achieved anything yet but we are going in the right direction. The good team spirit you see reflects the hard work we've been putting in during these past weeks." Wednesday's visitors to Germany go into tonight's quarter-final against Wolfsburg on the back of six consecutive victories.

Paris are in the quarter-finals for the fourth year in a row, having lost to Barcelona in 2013 and 2015 and Chelsea in 2014. Tonight, they host the only team English left in the competition - Manchester City ...

Manchester City's much-maligned defence have a test in store tonight against a Zlatan Ibrahimović hungry to end his long wait for a UEFA Champions League title in potentially his final season in the competition. Out of contract in the summer, the 34-year-old has often been criticised in the past for wilting in the knockout stages and struggling against English teams, but he responded in the best way possible against Chelsea in the last 16 with a goal in both legs.
 
Ibrahimović has now struck nine times in 36 UEFA Champions League knockout contests, and has found the net in his last four games in the competition, defying the ravages of time in a superb campaign for Paris. In total, the Sweden striker has scored 38 goals in 40 games in 2015/16, and he is determined to reach what would be just his second semi-final at this level since 2006. For the likes of Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolás Otamendi, preventing him from getting there will be no easy task.

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Last season's Bundesliga runners-up and German Cup winners Wolfsburg set very high standards last season. Indeed, the expectation and pressure to reproduce some of that form this term is taking its toll on Die Wölfe at a crucial moment in the campaign.

The losses of Kevin de Bruyne and Ivan Perišić - who transferred to Manchester City and Inter respectively - combined with subsequent injuries to key defenders and the inconsistent form of André Schürrle and new arrival Julian Draxler have all combined to leave Wolfsburg currently lagging behind the European qualifying spots in eighth place in the Bundesliga. Yet the UEFA Champions League has clearly acted as a counterbalance to the team from Lower Saxony, who are in the knockout stages for the first time and boast a 100% home record to date in this season's competition.

With ten-time tournament winners Real Madrid in town tonight, Dieter Hecking's men will be aiming to produce a morale-boosting performance.

Gareth Bale, Real Madrid No11:


It's an incredible experience [to be managed by Zinédine Zidane]. He was one of the best players in the world and to have him as a coach is an honour. He's now demonstrating that he is a great coach. I'm really enjoying working with him and hopefully it continues.

I think that I've improved in every aspect of my game. Lots of things have been good for me. The Premier League is more about attacking from one end to the other and La Liga is more possession based. I can see that I've improved the possession side of my game and also my finishing.

When I came to Real Madrid I knew the history of the club, I'd seen it as a child. So to have been able to contribute to it is incredible. And we want to contribute more, we want to win more European titles and continue to add more silverware to the trophy cabinet.

Watch Zidane settle the 2002 final with a sensational volley ...

So, should Real Madrid coach Zinédine Zidane stick with a winning formula by starting with the lineup that took to the field against Barcelona at the weekend? If he does, it will mean more bench time for players like Isco and James Rodríguez who, although frustrated of late, must be filled with admiration for team-mate Casemiro who is blossoming in a defensive midfield role. "[Against Barcelona] we played an impressive game defensively against great players and [Casemiro] was important for us," Zidane said of the Brazil native after the Liga win.

One analyst on the Spanish Saturday night radio show El Larguero (The Crossbar) commented, "Casemiro is like a bull," referring to the 24-year-old's strong physique, bravery and tireless running. "Every time I play in the Champions League, I try to enjoy it as much as possible because it's the realisation of a dream," Casemiro told UEFA.com ahead of tonight's encounter against Wolfsburg, of whom he said, "We need to respect them because we know they have some great players, but respect them while playing our football, our happy football."

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Paris fans breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when coach Laurent Blanc revealed that Ángel Di María is fit to start against Manchester City. The Argentinian playmaker was left out of Saturday's squad to face Nice after being taken off with a leg injury during international duty last week, but Laurent Blanc assured that he is "in top form" ahead of tonight's quarter-final opener.

Di María has not made a consistent impact since his arrival from Manchester United in the summer, but on his good days he adds a fresh dimension to the French club. Their first scorer in the UEFA Champions League this season, he has also helped himself to nine goals and 11 assists in Ligue 1 – the latter figure the joint best in the division alongside Zlatan Ibrahimović's own passing contribution.
 
Crucially, he has helped take the focus off Ibrahimović in Paris's build-up play, giving opposition teams a whole new problem to worry about, with a zip and creative vision capable of unlocking any defence. Allowed free reign in his preferred position on the right, the 28-year-old will likely be a key presence at the Parc des Princes in the absence of Marco Verratti and Javier Pastore – especially if City focus too much attention on his extravagant Swedish team-mate.

Wolfsburg midfielder Maximilian 'Maxi' Arnold is trying hard to forget last Friday's 3-0 Bundesliga reverse against Leverkusen. "The way we played was shocking; it just wasn't acceptable," the 21-year-old fumed. "We were constantly a step behind and never made an impact." Passionate words indeed.

When asked about facing Real Madrid tonight, the German international - who signed a three-year contract extension with Die Wölfe in February - lit up. "As a child I dreamed of this but never imagined it would become real," he explained. "Zinédine Zidane was a role model of mine for some time; he was an incredibly elegant player." Wolfsburg's youngest ever debutant at 17, Arnold said the team from Lower Saxony would look to "be clever," against their Spanish opponents later. "We respect Madrid but we do not fear them," he concluded. 

Manuel Pellegrini, Manchester City manager:


It'll be difficult but I believe we have a chance. Paris are a very good team, with a project similar to Manchester City in a sense, trying to grow year by year. Both teams have an opportunity to push on. I don't think there's a clear favourite in this tie.

It was important this season for us to win our group for the first time, and then we won in the round of 16 for the first time. We will see what happens against Paris.

Joe Hart has worked without any problem for the last few days and we tested him today. There's always a risk when a player returns from injury, but I don't think there's a problem with him playing.

Laurent Blanc, Paris coach:


I have excellent memories of Manchester from when I was playing for Manchester United. We used to drive by the City training ground on the way to ours, but I think it's no longer there.

The city itself has transformed a lot. It used to be very post-industrial, but it has flourished into quite a charming place now. On the sporting front, City are reducing their deficit to United and becoming a great club again – let's not forget they were strong in the 1970s.

They say experience can make the difference in ties such as this and that every detail counts. After the draw, some were relieved and said it was a good one for us as we avoided the two giants, Barcelona and Bayern. I strongly warned my players not to listen to that. Those who say that don't understand anything about football.

We'll be up against a team with quality and quality in depth – their squad overall has much more quality than ours. These will be two difficult and delicate games.

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Dieter Hecking, Wolfsburg coach:


Motivation won't be a problem. We have a big chance to perform on a great stage. Nobody thought we could get this far. But in the end I still say: "This must not be the end for us." We will look for our opportunity, even with this draw, and if we beat Real it would be one of the biggest sensations. So this is what we want to begin tomorrow.

Since we were drawn against Real Madrid, we've been really excited. But is it the biggest match in our club's history? I think there have been other great games, though maybe this is the one with the most attention. It is extraordinary for every one of us and we want to demonstrate why we are still in this competition.

Real Madrid have a great squad with top-class players. They are one of the favourites for the title and one of the top clubs in Europe. But we will try to annoy them and I think my team can do that. It won't be enough to just stop [Cristiano] Ronaldo.

I don't know right now if [centre-back] Naldo will be able to play. We have to talk to the doctor and also the player. He wants to play, but now it's up to me if I trust him. I don't share the speculation that he will definitely play.

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Zinédine Zidane, Real Madrid coach:


It will be a tough match but we are well prepared. We will approach it like a final, we cannot relax: the win against Barcelona is already forgotten. We are in good shape and the team are focused – that is the most important thing for me.

Wolfsburg have fought hard to be here and deserve to be here. They may have had problems in the Bundesliga, but this is a completely different competition. We are not untouchable and Wolfsburg are able to hurt us. They have a fast attack so we have to be alert.

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Paris forward Zlatan Ibrahimović says "collecting trophies" is "what the game is about":


I am coming into the quarter-finals very relaxed. The game is obviously pretty important for everybody – for me, for the club, for the city, for the country – but I am pretty relaxed and confident. I feel fresh – physically I feel good, very focused and confident.

I try to collect as many [titles] as possible. This is what the game is about – collecting trophies.  At the end of your career when you look back you will count all the trophies that you won. I have a couple of them, so I am not complaining.

I played with Yaya Touré [at Barcelona]. I like him, I like him a lot. And then you have [David] Silva, [Sergio] Agüero – the whole team is strong. You don't watch out for one [particular player], you need to watch out for the team.

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Paris and Manchester City undoubtedly have much in common. Fallen giants taken in hand by owners from the same part of the world, Paris and City are both newly rich powerhouses looking to translate huge financial resources into European success. Unlike fellow nouveau-rich juggernauts Chelsea – UEFA Champions League winners in 2011/12 – neither has managed to break their way into the elite as yet, but a semi-final spot will change all that for one of them.

City have struggled most thus far, with this their first quarter-final since their takeover in 2008 (or before it, for that matter), but Paris have hardly taken the competition by storm either. Through to this stage for the fourth consecutive year, they are desperate to avoid the impression that they have reached the ceiling of their potential. After all, they did not choose the motto 'Dream bigger' by accident, yet it is a phrase that could just as easily apply to their opponents. And only one of them will get to keep their dream alive in the last four.

Barcelona No12 Rafinha made his long-awaited comeback in Tuesday's first-leg victory against Atlético. The midfielder suffered a knee injury on matchday one, and was ruled out for six months after undergoing surgery on 22 September.

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart (out since 20 March, calf) is fit to play against Paris in tonight's quarter-final first leg. "Hart has had medical and physical tests and has no problems to play," said manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Paris go into their fourth consecutive quarter-final quietly confident of taking the next step for the first time in 21 years, especially after getting the better of Manchester City's Premier League rivals Chelsea in the last round. Enjoying prolific form, evergreen forward Zlatan Ibrahimović showed his hunger in that tie, but the French side will need to beware world-class predator Sergio Agüero and the dynamic input of fit-again Kevin De Bruyne – even if Manchester City do have key men missing.

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Wolfsburg sporting director Klaus Allofs may have mixed emotions when he sees the Wolves emerging from the tunnel alongside Real Madrid tonight. On the one hand, this is exactly the grand stage the 59-year-old wants his team to be performing on. However, witnessing Madrid will also bring back some painful memories for the former West Germany international. Allofs scored the opening goal for Köln in the 1986 UEFA Cup final, first leg against the Merengues at the Santiago Bernabéu. The lead lasted just nine minutes as Madrid stormed back on that April night to win the encounter 5-1. Although Köln rallied in the return leg, it wasn't enough to prevent the Spanish giants from retaining the trophy.

In an interview published in the Berliner Zeitung, Allofs spoke about just what tonight's encounter means to Wolfsburg. "The games against Madrid are the next step for us," he said. "Our goal is to establish ourselves among the top four in Germany and to be a permanent presence in the Champions League." On Wolfsburg's chances in the tie, the former Bundesliga and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup winner with Werder Bremen said: "Of course it's great to play against a club that fascinates people the world over, but we're not going out there to collect autographs. Madrid are the clear favourites, [but] we are in the quarter-finals on merit and we have potential."

Did you know? This is Wolfsburg's first European Cup quarter-final; Madrid are at this stage for the sixth season running – their last-eight record in this competition stands at W26 L6.

Ali Benarbia, who spent two seasons at Paris before joining Manchester City in 2001, has warned the Ligue 1 champions of complacency against the Premier League side. "City's strength is their front line," said the former Algerian international. "Their league campaign has been a bit strange this season, but this team have a lot of options, especially in attack. They're a team who are capable of coming to the Parc des Princes and scoring. That will be one of the keys for Paris: avoid conceding in the first leg."

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It will be interesting to see who Laurent Blanc prefers on the left of his attack against Manchester City tonight. Lucas looked to have supplanted Edinson Cavani as first choice in recent weeks, but many expect Cavani to get the nod in this quarter-final opener. Despite his sometimes wayward finishing, the Uruguay striker is a tireless worker and does not mind taking on defensive tasks, something that his Brazilian colleague is not especially renowned for. Given the threat City can pose on the break, nor least given the pace of Jesús Navas down Paris's left flank, a forward willing to harry the opposition could prove vital.

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Head over to the UEFA Champions League MatchCentre now for all the build-up to tonight's games. Team news will be arriving shortly, with expert analysis, live text and audio commentary, exclusive photography and immediate reaction to follow as the evening progresses.

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According to L'Équipe, Paris were "very disappointing" against Manchester City, with the sports daily saying "a completely different attitude" is needed in the second leg to progress.

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Zeit Online say Dieter Hecking's Wolfsburg were victorious against Real Madrid because the coach "was able to rely on his entire team". The article continues with praise for Bruno Henrique, who was surprisingly preferred to Max Kruse in the starting lineup. "The decision to field Henrique panned out. He assisted the second goal and had a lot of good moments. Hecking discovered that Real can be cracked on the wings." The paper explains that while the Wolves do not have the largest fan base in Germany, they were able "to capture everyone's heart". Wrapping up, the piece says: "It was David against Goliath. Modest against vain. Dieter against Zinédine. It ended with a huge upset."

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"Bad, bad bad," says AS of Real Madrid's loss to Wolfsburg. "The 2-0 result was the consequence of all the home players being up for it and all the away team living in fear," writes editor Alfredo Relaño. "And the most alarming thing is 2-0 was a fair result for a game Wolfsburg took far more seriously, not just in the first half but in the second too, when Madrid had already been warned." Renowned Madrid columnist Tomás Roncero adds: "It's inexplicable that just 96 hours after the huge victory in the Clásico, the same players are capable of producing a display so poor and full of errors."

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The message from Marca, also based in Madrid, is different. Their front page is already focusing on Tuesday's second leg at the Santiago Bernabéu, attempting to summon Madrid's past record of great European comebacks. "He who doesn't believe in the comeback should give up their place in the team," is their headline.

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Wolfsburg needed to survive early Real Madrid pressure last night, before the Ricardo Rodriguez penalty injected the confidence that eventually led to such a memorable evening. Spiegel Online noted "an earthquake of medium proportions" in Wolfsburg's stadium when Rodriguez's shot hit the back of the net. Struggling to find an explanation for how Wolfsburg looked lifeless in the Bundesliga last weekend and so full of spirit just a few days later, the newspaper says: "It was an evening on which Wolfsburg demonstrated what force they can unleash when they are being challenged on the biggest stage. And when the opponent is not Darmstadt or Hoffenheim."
 

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On Tuesday, Paris travel to Manchester City for their most important game of the current era, and newspaper Le Parisien singled out "three challenges" for coach Laurent Blanc, following a disappointing 2-2 home draw this week.

1. "Find a new gameplan"
"Paris will have to win to go through [except in case of 3-3 draw or more], but this doesn't mean go all for attack. A balance must be found between taking risks and threatening opposition," the daily said, underlining that freedom should be given to Ángel Di María.

2. Key players
They were not key on Wednesday, with Le Parisien naming Edinson Cavani and Di Maria "the shadows" of themselves and reminding that "it took 20 minutes to Thiago Silva to settle in the game although he was the best Paris player at the end of the night".

3. Change spirit
The earliest ever French champions on 13 March, Paris "since then partially unplugged the power". "So far, Paris always managed to lift their level higher for Champions League games," Le Parisiennoticed. "Blanc will have to find the words to urge players to repeat Chelsea's achieevement last year."

Following his side's 1-0 win against Benfica on Tuesday, Bayern München coach Josep Guardiola was able to sit back and watch Wednesday's action on the couch. He was impressed by Wolfsburg during their 2-0 triumph over Real Madrid. "Football is marvelous, everything can happen," he said. "It was a great lesson for everyone, fans and media especially. I am very happy for Wolfsburg and compliment them on a great performance. It showed that it's never easy for the favourites and how complicated things can be at this stage of the competition." Asked about the injury status of Arjen Robben, Guardiola said: "The expectation is that he will not be available by next week."

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Laurent Blanc confessed himself frustrated after the 2-2 home draw to Manchester City as he spoke to the media ahead of Paris's meeting with Guingamp.

"Honestly, we all thought we would play better. But we faced a good team with effective strikers. I am pretty sure we should have won that match. We did not though, and now City have the edge. We could, we should have won at home. Why not do it in Manchester? I believe in my squad, we sure can do it."

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Benfica captain Luisão is part of their 20-man squad to face Académica on Saturday. The 35-year old Brazilian central defender broke his left arm in November and was previously due to return to action in early February before suffering a further setback.

Two points ahead of Lisbon rivals Sporting at the top of the Portuguese Liga, Benfica face second-bottom Académica on a run of six straight league victories. “It's an important match for us and they need points so they will give everything against Benfica,” said coach Rui Vitória.

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Laurent Blanc's Paris squad for today's game at Guingamp shows how important next week's decider is to his side. French champions since 13 March, Paris have allowed ten key players the day off to prepare for the quarter-final. Blanc has said that Javier Pastore and Marco Verratti are injured, and “have a small chance” of playing in Tuesday’s game, while Edinson Cavani, David Luiz, Ángel Di María, Nicolas Douchez, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Maxwell, Thiago Motta and Thiago Silva have also been rested.

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Bayern were 3-1 winners at Stuttgart in their Saturday Bundesliga fixture. Georg Niedermaier was the fall guy for the home side, deflecting in a shot from the impressive Franck Ribéry in the first half, and Bayern doubled their advantage after the break, David Alaba lifting the ball over a defender before driving in his first goal since November. Stuttgart replied, and then Thiago Alcántara hit the bar, but Bayern battled on, with Douglas Costa scoring his first goal of 2016 – a powerful, curling effort.

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Real Madrid rallied following their midweek loss at Wolfsburg with a 4-0 demolition of mid-table Eibar. James Rodríguez converted direct from a fifth-minute free-kick, and Cristiano Ronaldo set up Lucas Vázquez for the second, before scoring one of his own a minute later – his 30th in the Liga this season. Ronaldo was the provider for Madrid's fourth too, Lucas wrong-footing the defence to invite Jesé Rodríguez to meet the Portugal striker's pass at the far post. The only relief for Eibar was that there were no more goals after the break.

Laurent Blanc rested the majority of his first-team players, but French champions Paris still came away from Guingamp with a 2-0 win. Lucas Moura converted from the penalty spot on 56 minutes after a foul on Christopher Nkunku, and scored a second from Layvin Kurzawa's pass. Of more concern, goalkeeper Kevin Trapp was taken off at the break with an injury, Salvatore Sirigu brought on to replace him.

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Atlético's second visit to Barcelona this week ended in a more positive fashion, as they came from behind to win 3-1 at Espanyol. Fernando Torres replied six minutes after his side conceded a 29th-minute Pape Diop goal, chesting down Koke's pass before finishing low for his third in as many games. Diego Simeone's side then completed a turnaround when Antoine Griezmann fired in off the post on 58 minutes. At the death, Torres combined with Koke for the midfielder to head Atlético's third.

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Making his first Premier League start since September, following a long struggle with a thigh injury, Samir Nasri scored City's 66th-minute winner against West Brom on a rainy evening in Manchester, finishing into an empty net after Sergio Agüero's shot had been blocked. The UEFA Champions League contenders had gone behind to a sweet Stéphane Sessegnon effort, but the goalscorer then gave away the penalty from which Agüro equalised – the Argentinian's 18th league goal of the season.

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Wolfsburg are without a win in four Bundesliga games after following up their 2-0 UEFA Champions League success against Real Madrid with a 1-1 draw against Mainz. The better side in the first half, the Wolves took the lead after the break, André Schürrle chipping the goalkeeper after good work from Bruno Henrique, but a Jairo Samperio equaliser – and Dante's late dismissal – ensured another day of Bundesliga frustration.

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Samir Nasri on his winner for Man City, his first goal following a long absence with a thigh injury:


It has been more than five months since I have been out so I can't explain how happy I am. It is the best thing to do before we play Paris St-Germain in the Champions League next week. The medical staff have done some good work but when you are out for so long, you want to prove to everyone you have the quality to be in the side. With all the new players, I wanted to contribute to the team.

 

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Raúl Jiménez's 85th-minute strike kept Benfica on course for their 35th Portuguese title, the Mexican controlling with his chest and swivelling to finish as the Eagles came from behind to beat Académica in Coimbra. Nuno had put the home side in front 17 minutes in, but Kostas Mitroglou replied before the break, getting a head to Pizzi's cross for his 19th Liga goal of the campaign.

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The Estadio de Anoeta proved once more to be a bogey venue for Barcelona, who lost 1-0 at Real Sociedad to give their title rivals hope. The Catalan side have not beaten Real Sociedad at their San Sebastian home since 2007, and Mikel Oyarzabal, 18, headed over Claudio Bravo after just five minutes to put the mid-table hosts in front. Barcelona lacked some sharpness, with Munir El Haddadi standing in for the suspended Luis Suárez, though Gerónimo Rulli made some great saves to preserve his side's lead.

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Having beaten Eibar 4-0 on Saturday, Real Madrid are switching their focus to Tuesday's quarter-final second leg against Wolfsburg – and the Spanish giants have work to do after losing 2-0 in Germany.

After closing the gap at the top of the Liga to three points on Saturday, Atlético have more reasons to celebrate today as 10 April is the anniversary of two of their famous trophy wins …

Some good news for Bayern ahead of their quarter-final decider away to Benfica on Wednesday ...

This has also been big day for Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, who may make his return from injury at home to Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday. Coach Manuel Pellegrini is said to be considering risking the Belgium centre-back, out with a knee injury since 15 March.

This blog is now closed, but our continuing coverage of the UEFA Champions League will resume on Monday as the countdown intensifies ahead of the quarter-final second legs.

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