UCL Preview: Madrid look to bounce back, United and City to cement top spot

 

UCL Preview: Madrid look to bounce back, United and City to cement top spot

Manchester United can book their place in the last 16 of this season's Champions League with a win over PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday night.

Louis van Gaal's side currently sit top of Group B with seven points from their first four, and victory at home to the Eredivisie high-flyers will see them secure a berth in the knockout stages on their return to Europe's premier club competition.

United, who are unbeaten in Europe since their defeat by PSV in September, could be without a number of key players for the crucial match at Old Trafford.

Seven first-team regulars sat out United's last-gasp win at Watford on Saturday, while three further stars picked up knocks during the match.

Despite his injury concerns, Van Gaal is confident United can book their place in the next round with one match to spare.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the game, he said: 'I still think [we are on schedule]. If we beat PSV, then we will have qualified. You always have to win your home matches.'

Wednesday night's tie could see Memphis Depay face his former club once again. The Dutch winger lined up for United against PSV in the reverse fixture, and marked the occasion by scoring the opening goal.

The English side did go on to lose 2-1, but have since picked up seven points from a possible nine in the Champions League.

PSV can go top of Group B with victory at Old Trafford, and will certainly provide a tough test for United. Phillip Cocu's side are in impressive form, and have not lost in their last 10 domestic matches.

Manchester City can secure top spot in Group D with a game to spare if they beat Juventus on Wednesday night.

Manuel Pellegrini's men have already booked their place in the knockout stages of this season's Champions League, winning three of their opening four games.

Now, attention turns to finishing top of the group, in an attempt to avoid the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the last 16.

City will be hoping to return to winning ways following their 4-1 Saturday Night Football defeat by Liverpool in the Premier League. Prior to that, Pellegrini's side were held by Aston Villa, and they have now dropped to third.

In the Champions League though, form has not been a problem for Manchester City. They have won their last three matches, scoring seven and conceding just three.

The English side's only defeat in this season's competition came in their opener against Wednesday's opponents Juventus, at the Etihad Stadium in September.

Giorgio Chiellini headed into his own net to give City the lead in the second half, before Juventus came back to win the game with goals from Mario Mandzukic and Alvaro Morata.

After winning a domestic double and reaching the Champions League final last season, Juventus have struggled for form this term.

Their victory over City in September acted as something of a catalyst, but they have only risen as high as sixth in Serie A, with pressure mounting on manager Massimiliano Allegri.

Juventus can overtake Manchester City to go top of Group D with a win, which will also see them secure their place in the knockout stages.

Real Madrid will aim to bounce back from their devastating defeat at the hands of Barcelona in El Clasico in their Champions League clash against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Rafael Benitez's men secured their place in the knockout stage of the competition, but can confirm their status as winners of Group A with a victory in Ukraine.

Real have entered crisis mode as a result of their crushing defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals in front of their home crowd at the Bernabeu on Saturday, although president Florentino Perez has thrown his support behind Benitez.

Donetsk ended their search for a win in the competition by recording a 4-0 hammering of Malmo in their last match to lift them off the bottom of the table.

Shakhtar had not scored in their opening three matches of the group stage, but displayed a clinical edge in the final third that was missing in their loss to Malmo in the away match.

Mircea Lucescu's men have been in prime form since their defeat to Malmo in October, winning five straight matches in all competitions.

The club are currently top of the Ukrainian Premier League and have only lost one of their last eight fixtures at the Arena Lviv, which came against Paris Saint-Germain in September.

Paris Saint-Germain are in Sweden this week, looking to book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a victory over Malmo FF on Wednesday night.

Laurent Blanc's side start the game four points ahead of the home side, and if results go their way, they should confirm their progress before Shakhtar Donetsk visit the Parc des Princes on Matchday 6.

Malmo know that they need all three points to give them a great chance of at least making it into the Europa Leagueand go into the game knowing they have won two of their five games against Ligue 1 sides. However, PSG are unbeaten in their five fixtures against Swedish opponents, picking up four wins and a draw.

Other fixtures:

CSKA vs Wolfsburg

Astana vs Benfica

Atletico Madrid vs Galatasary

B.Moenchengladbach vs Sevilla

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