The Champions League Round of 16 resumes Wednesday, with FC Porto hosting Juventus at Dragon Stadium and Sevilla welcoming Leicester City to Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium in the first legs of their respective series.
Porto vs. Juventus Wednesday’s can’t miss game features two of Europe’s hottest teams, as Porto and Juventus have won six and seven consecutive games, respectively, in all competitions … and done so with style.
Juventus has a comfortable lead atop the Serie A (Italian first division) standings and has advanced to the Coppa Italia (Italy Cup) semifinal. But Max Allegri’s team would love nothing more than to win the Champions League for the first time since 1996. The “Old Lady” of Italian soccer will be missing defender Leandro Bonucci, whom Allegri dropped from the squad for disciplinary reasons. However, Juventus will be at full strength in other areas, particularly up front where Gonzalo Higuain is at the peak of his powers.
Second-place Porto trails Benfica by one point in the Liga NOS (Portugal’s first division) title race. Having already exited both domestic cup competitions, Porto can rely on a full and fresh squad for the first leg against Juventus. Francisco Soares’ arrival during the January transfer window has improved Porto’s attack, which should cause European defenses more trouble than it did during the group stage.
Sevilla vs. Leicester City Two teams heading in opposite directions will meet in Spain. Leicester City enters the match amid a dreadful run of form, having won one, lost four and drawn one of its last six games. The Foxes have fallen to 17th place in the Premier League standings, just one point above the relegation zone. However, their Champions League group-stage results and performances were good enough to top their group.
The soccer world will learn Wednesday whether that Leicester City arrives in Spain or the lousy domestic Foxes turn up. Islam Slimani will miss the game due to a leg muscle injury. Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy will bear much of the goal-scoring responsibility for Leicester.